The Frog in the Well is both beautifully written and illustrated. The story of how the frog views his world will jump off the pages for children while educating them about Chinese culture and language. I have had an interest in China ever since a 4th-grade teacher opened my eyes to the country and its people, culture, language, and history. The Frog in the Well will create a spark for learning about China and the most spoken language in the world: Mandarin Chinese. Parents, teachers, and educational leaders should be encouraged to help children discover China, and The Frog in the Well is a great tool for doing so. This will help prepare our children for the transformational world that they are entering and make America a magnet for Chinese investment in the future. Don’t just sit there—hop on over and pick up a copy of The Frog in the Well.”
Michigan State Superintendent of Schools (2001–2005), MI
Honorary Professor, Mianyang University
Every parent loves a book that will entertain and teach their child. CE Bilingual Books has come up with a clever way to teach language and culture that is sure to please even the most discriminating young mind.
“The Frog in the Well” is a beautifully illustrated Chinese children’s fable about the foibles of close-mindedness. A frog living in a well believes his well to be the whole world, and is confident in his vast knowledge of the world, until he meets a sea turtle and learns the world is much larger than he imagined. The story ends with a straightforward pronouncement of its very valuable moral.
The short tale is sweet and amusing enough to stand on its own, but these series of books offer much more. The book begins by defining the style of the Chinese idiom, and their cultural position, then explains how the author uses the Mandarin Chinese “pinyin”, a phonetic system to represent sounds. Each line is then translated into Mandarin Chinese, with the corresponding sounds above that.
The idea for the series is the brainchild of Irene Tsai, an American-Chinese engineer and a published children’s author, whose love of books was nurtured by her mother. Pattie Caprio designed and illustrated the book, and the translation was done by Joyce Lin.
Whether a child is learning Chinese or simply filled with natural curiosity, “The Frog in the Well” will fascinate them. I personally know one 8 year old, my daughter, who had great fun reading the story and discovering a piece of Chinese culture in the symbols and sounds, and who is earnestly looking forward to seeing more from this educational series.
Highly Recommended by Reviewer: Nancy Morris, Allbooks Reviews.
In retelling The Frog in the Well, a Chinese fable, Irene Y. Tsai, with the assistance of illustrator Pattie Caprio, has provided a book for children that is both entertaining and educational. The Chinese translation by Joyce Lin is an important contribution that will enable young readers to learn to read in English and Chinese simultaneously. Although this is a delightful children’s book—recommended for ages five and up—adults should take advantage of the unique presentation to share a special learning and sharing time with the younger generation. My eight-year-old granddaughter loved the storyline and insisted that we learn the Chinese together. She plans to take it to school and share it with her teacher. A future artist, she found the illustrations to be captivating.
The storyline is easily understood, age appropriate, well-written and will stimulate young minds to consider the status of both the frog in the well and the turtle in the vast ocean when considering their own lives and the opportunities they have before them. There is an ocean of knowledge to investigate that is outside the confines and happiness found in a well if one chooses to listen to others and broaden his or her cultural experiences. We can all be embarrassed by what we think we know—just ask the frog in the well.
It is my belief that this book, and ones similarly presented, should be utilized by the educational system as a teaching tool for children. The Frog in the Well is definitely a “must buy” picture book for parents and all caregivers of children—buy an extra one to give as a gift that is “bound” to please.
Bettie Corbin Tucker
IP Book Reviewers
Are you a Frog or a Sea Turtle? Not sure what that means. Read The Frog In The Well to find out. You may learn something about yourself, and learn a little bit of a new language in the process.
The Frog In The Well is a Chinese idiom. An idiom is based on folklore, myth or historical fact and is used to demonstrate a moral teaching. This Chinese idiom is brought to colorful life by Irene Tsai and Joyce Lin as the writers, and Pattie Caprio as the illustrator. The fun part about this story is that it is written in English, with Chinese text beneath or next to the English. There are four forms of Chinese text used on each page, Simplified Chinese, Pinyan (which is Romanized so readers can sound the words out), Traditional Chinese and Zhu Yin Fu Hao. There is also an English/Chinese dictionary at the back of the book which covers the basic words in the text.
The story of The Frog In The Well is about just what the title implies, a frog that lives in a well. The frog is happy, believing that he is the best and smartest creature alive. For him, the well is his world. Then one day, he meets a Sea Turtle and learns much about not only himself but also his way of thinking. The story is good to show children that they need to keep their minds open, and never believe that they have learned all they need to know.
The illustrations of the book enhance the story. The text and pictures work together beautifully to bring the idiom to life in a way that children will enjoy. Kids will love the bold colors that help bring the story to life. The pictures will help make kids want to keep coming back to the book.
The fact that the book is bilingual is also a plus for children. They will have fun learning even just a little bit of a new language. I’m sure that even parents will try their hand at reading and sounding out the Chinese text. The added bonus is that four forms of Chinese text are included, providing both traditional Chinese symbols with a version of text that even beginners can sound out.
The Frog In The Well is a book that children will not only enjoy, but also be able to learn from. The core message of the story alone is a good learning tool for kids. But, it should also be noted that bilingual books are beneficial for children, especially at a young age when their minds are forming. This book in particular is interesting because it covers a language which is not as widely used in bilingual books. Definitely worth a read.
Reviewed by A. E. Jaskiewicz
Front Street Reviews
"The Frog in the Well" is a story based on a Chinese idiom, which describes a narrow-minded person.
As the publishers first book, this Chinese English bilingual book is sure to be a huge hit. The design is easy to follow. The illustrations by Pattie Caprio are bright and eye-catching. With the note to readers in the front of the book and the word list in the back, readers will be able to receive the full benefits from the old Chinese fable included within.
The story begins with a happy frog that lives in a deep well. He thinks that his well is the world until he meets a sea turtle looking for the huge ocean.
Teachers can easily incorporate this wonderful book into their lesson plans. Children will have fun exploring the English to Chinese text simultaneously placed on each page. The publisher believes "The Frog in the Well" will help prepare children for the global market. This reviewer agrees. There are many book published in English/Spanish, however, as many years as I've been reviewing books, I've not seen a English/Chinese book for children.
My children and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this interesting, fun, and educational book by some very talented people.
Reviewed by Jennifer LB Leese
Jennifer LB Leese is a writer from Maryland who writes children's picture books, young adult novels, and paranormal fiction.
I love books that teach, especially books that teach language and comprehension. In The Frog in the Well, Irene Tsai retells an ancient cheng yu. A cheng yu is an idiom or proverb. The meaning of The Frog in the Well would probably be evident to people of Chinese heritage but it would not be immediately understandable to those of us who are not Chinese. In much the same way, the phrase “a bird in the hand” or “the turtle and the rabbit” might be easily understood by someone in North America.
In our multicultural society, we often share the “sayings,” “dichos” and “idioms” that our parents and grandparents taught us with people of other cultures. Sometimes the meanings of these idioms have an equivalent in our own culture, but often the words and stories behind them are quite different. Irene Tsai not only shows us the story of the frog in the well, but she manages to depict this wonderful universal story in such a way that both young children and those learning the Chinese language can understand.
The Frog in the Well is written in English, traditional Chinese characters, simplified Chinese characters, Zhu Yin Fu Hao, and Pinyin a kind of transliterated Chinese that approximates the phonetic sounds of Mandarin Chinese. Talk about helpful layers of language.
One would think a book with so many languages and alphabets on each double-spread page would be cluttered. But it’s not. The layout is unobtrusive and is actually quite clear with the English words in a larger font. The Chinese characters are also very clear and precise.
The story is about a pleasant little frog who lives in a well. It’s a lovely home. But the problem is he thinks that the well is all there is. One picture is a little sad because we see him splashing away inside the well while the outside world blossoms all around him. He’s very pleased with himself because he knows every nook and cranny of the well and is pretty much the king of his world. He is somewhat aware of the world outside because when a sea turtle arrives at his well, he invites him in for a swim. When the sea turtle tells him that he lives in an ocean, the frog is surprised and embarrassed. I am not sure if the turtle represents aged wisdom in Chinese culture (unlike American culture where it represents slow steadfastness) but the author gives us a nice wrap-up of the cheng yu’s moral.
The Frog in the Well is told in the present tense and the English vocabulary is easy for a pre-kindergartener to understand. An older child will have no trouble reading it. A young child would probably need help understanding the Phonetic Chinese – all those linguistic accents– but those learning the Chinese language will probably be greatly helped by it. Each group of pictographs has their own little phonetic pronunciation notation.It’s not written in rhyme as many children picture books are but it does have a certain poetic feel in the way it describes the frog’s world, very like an haiku. It’s really quite a lovely book.
The computer illustrations are a sweet blend of Chinese-style water color and a westernized animation cell. The frog is cute and happy-go-lucky, not at all arrogant..just a little ignorant about the larger world outside. Although his disappointment and shock are evident when he realizes how little he knows, he has a hopeful look on his face at the end of the story. The child reader will know that he is humbled yet ready to learn more about all he doesn’t yet know. This is definitely a good book for kids and one that will gently tell children that there is so much more in the world for them to discover and encounter.
This is part of a series and I have no doubt that other books in the series are equally well done and also show the richness of Chinese culture and wisdom.
Recommended for all children, and especially for bi-lingual Chinese children and for all those who are learning the Chinese language.
Reviewed by Carole McDonnell