Learning About Animals: في صفنا ضفدع

I’ve been looking for books that teach the boys about animals and that might tie in to the Egyptian Ministry of Education curriculum in various ways.

I think the Weekly Reader translations of the في حديقة الحيوان series, published by Dar al Farouq, are all right. Nothing to write home about, but they have some decent information, nice photos, and straightforward prose. (What do animals eat, where do they live, how do they interact.)

Although there isn’t really much information about animals, I also like فرحانة وحديقة بدون حيوانات , by Rania Hussein Amin, for the way it teaches children that animals also have inner lives and desires.

There is also a book where Bakkar goes to the zoo (بكار في حديقة الحيوان) available free on the International Digital Children’s Library, although Bakkar doesn’t learn much about animals beyond that Hasouna shouldn’t pester them.

So I was pleased to find في صفنا ضفدع, written by تغريد النجار and illustrated by منال حدادين, a book that both examines the life-cycle of a frog and has a compelling story around it. (My two-year-old really likes the part where the frog is on the teacher’s head.)

The story begins when Basel and Rana discover some frog’s eggs, and bring them in to their teacher. She is, as a good teacher should be, delighted. She explains to them how the بيض will become أبا ذنيبة and later a ضفدع. And so he does.

But the frog is not really happy with his life under glass, and one day—when the children forget to re-place the lid properly—he jumps out among the toys and books. And, if you lift the flap at the end, you’ll find out his fate.

One of things I really like about the illustrations in this book is that, in the classroom, all the books and posters and blocks are in Arabic, not English. Plus, look at that sweet little frog jumping for freedom.

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