Book Jacket

 

rank  Editors Pick
word count 16312
date submitted 24.05.2011
date updated 22.07.2013
genres: Fantasy, Children's
classification: universal
complete

Magic of the Frogs

JJ Marro

A magical spell is hiding something very important about the animals that live around the pond:
Who they truly are...

 

In the land of Brackenridge, during an age of wizards and warriors, the Frogs of Covington only know about their simple life around the pond.
Kept in solitude, their human characteristics and way of life was never questioned.
But when a beautiful sprite appears, and warns the frogs of a dark wizard and his evil snakes, Bastion must learn the truth about their past and fulfill his destiny as the guardian of Covington.


Magic of the Frogs, (aka.. Bastion Guardian of Covington) is the first in a series, and is geared for ages 6-10, but anyone who reads will enjoy this fairy tale adventure. This is a true children’s chapter book, designed to promote reading at higher levels. The story was written with the help of educators in three different schools as well as their students that struggle with reading, This fast pace action packed adventure that will challenge the reader, But In-turn, not take away from the pace of the story with words they would struggle with.

 
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tags

children, fantasy, magic, young adult

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349 comments

 

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HarperCollins Wrote

Broad Overview
Plot Summary
A children's novel about magical frogs, whose habitat is threatened. Bastion, their guardian, must work out how to save their way of life with the help of Larien, the sprite. Only she can help him defeat the snakes…

Genres & Similar Authors
This is a magical fairy story told in straight text with chapters, and as such might have something in common with classics like ‘The Wind in the Willows’ or ‘Animals of Farthing Wood’, ‘Watership Down’, or more contemporary children’s adventure books.

First Impressions
This is a sweet children's story, but there is a serious disjunction between the reading level (fairly high) and the content (fairly young and pastoral).

Where would this sit in the market?
Perhaps a book for reluctant readers – I do not think this would sit amongst 9-12 fiction very comfortably, but it is too advanced for younger readers.

Weaknesses

This book is very well written, but there is a problem with the content. It is a very sweet, pastoral tale of a frog saving his community, but there is never a pressing sense of danger. The threat in the story is very mild, the resolution fairly easy, and it is lacking in drama. If this was a picture book for very young children, that would be fine, but the complexity of the text here poses difficulties. Whilst you offer the idea that the text could help young readers, I’m not sure this would work commercially without fitting in with a government-approved reading scheme to cater for primary levels.

To bring this to life, you might need to add human interest. At the moment, Bastion is virtuous and the sprite is very clever. What we need, perhaps, is a muddy child to come along for the adventure – someone who must keep the secret world concealed from adults, or something similar. Or, a threatening human presence. A greater sense of danger in general would also help add suspense and level out the disparity between the reading level and the content. ‘The Animals of Farthing’ is a brilliant example, and well worth reading.

Alternatively – or perhaps additionally – although Authonomy does not support illustration, it might well be worth thinking about illustrators for this work at agent stage. This might work with a much-reduced text element, bringing the age of the story down. I think these are the two ways this would work better – either bringing the reading age down, or pushing it up.
Strengths

This is excellently written. The language is both accessible and challenging, and the plot is well-considered. The cast of characters may be slightly small, but the characters are vivid, with their strengths and weaknesses delineated clearly. It is fast-paced, and contains a complete narrative within the story, with all loose ends well tidied away. It is a very pleasing read, and the world-building is very good.
Decision
This book feels as if it is not quite clear what it is yet.

The problem with target age in terms of writing and content is sufficient that at the moment we will not be taking this forward.

One of the potential things to look at could be charging the plot with more peril – raising the stakes and making the language more immediate. We could also see more bloodshed, perhaps, or more terrifying threats on the part of the villains.

We wish the author every success making this book brilliant – it certainly has potential!

Stark Silvercoin wrote 447 days ago

There are a very few books that can actually change a child’s life. We’re lucky if we find one title that we can hold dear in our hearts as we grow old, or one book that represents childhood and the joys of innocence. We have a very limited window of time to find it too, before the world and school and the pressures of growing up force us to banish childish things from our lives. And those of us who find that one book are truly blessed, because we are surely better people for it. Magic of the Frogs could easily be that book for so many children. It deserves to be published before they too join us in the ranks of less-happy adulthood.

Author JJ Marro paints his tale with magical and colorful brush strokes. His descriptions of place bring us right down into the story and his characters are memorable, even when they exist in the guise of humble frogs, or perhaps more so because of it.

The writing itself is stylistically perfect for the age group. It’s challenging enough so that readers will feel rewarded going through it, yet never so much so that it gets in the way of the adventure. It will help children learn to read, and learn to read better, even as it entertains them along the way.

Magic of the Frogs is destined to be a classic, and I know one day we will be talking about Marro in the same breath as Judy Blume and other authors who have made their mark on the world, and left it a better place.

John Breeden II
Old Number Seven

Sara Stinson wrote 571 days ago

I read the book in its entirety several weeks ago. "Magic of the Frogs" is an excellent story for children. Whether you are a fan of children books or not, you will enjoy this story. It is written to perfection and with the style of a classic. Children stories are a challenge. JJ Marro has met this challenge with a fantastic read.
I applaud you!
Sara

Eva H wrote 526 days ago

CHIRG review
I loved this - such a wonderful tale. Perfect for the age group. Beautifully described with strong characterisation. There are some clever ideas in here. Love the sinisters snakes. Larien is truly magical. I could picture Covington perfectly. This is exactly the kind of story I would have read to my son when he was younger, and I know he would have loved it. Wishing you much luck, and success with MOTF.
Eva H
Children of the Raven

RK Summers wrote 845 days ago

I utterly adore this magical tale. It has all the elements needed for a perfect fairy tale, and is superbly written. Bastion is likable, the names you used for the snakes are imaginative and fun (Morgana especially is one I enjoyed!), I can't wait to read on and learn more about that adorable little sprite! The whole thing just sparkles with magic.

I wish I could say more about it, but I don't think I can, it has quite literally left me speechless. This deserves a place on the ED!

Well done, very highly starred!

RK Summers
The Albion Pages

Eleanor Raif wrote 959 days ago

The Magic of the Frogs is a sweet little tale. My girls are lovers of magical stories and this did not disappoint! Reading a bit every night, they enjoyed the cliffhangers and the suspenseful moments, and the magic of it all. Of course the best loved children's tales are full of talking animals and the tiny creatures that children naturally give a voice to. Bastion is a lovable hero, cute, funny and bold to boot. Larien, the imp, added a great element of femininity to the story and my little princess drank her up. This story is simple, a sweetness reminiscent of Little Bear or Wind-in-the-Willows while bearing all of the heroism of a true adventure. The best part for me is the mature sentence structure level of reading skill required. It is difficult for me to find books that are fun and exciting for the girls to read. Its a delicate balance, finding something that is not so long that they lose interest but challenging enough to help them sharpen their reading skills. Chapter books are often so simply written, not allowing a child's mind to be challenged. The Magic of the Frogs strikes the balance, providing enough strong characters to keep the child wanting to read while secretly teaching them better literacy skills. I highly recommend this story and I would love to see more of this caliber on the shelf in the children's books section. Well done JJ Marro!

Voices of the Pacific wrote 22 days ago

The editor who wrote the HarperCollins review could have saved much space by simply writing:

"I don't think this story will sell, and if I accept it, I may be standing in an unemployment line, if it doesn't ."

She/he mentions the story has potential. Fine. In that case maybe the editor would like to try his/her hand at making it a literary masterpiece. You will have to forgive the sarcastic remarks I am making, but I think honesty is the best policy here.

Personally, I think this story is wonderful. I would buy it. I think other people would buy it also, and I do not believe children reading it would have the same thoughts as the editor who might want to remember what he/she read as a child. If JJ Marro had a track record of previous successes, the manuscript would be snapped up right away. The whole process of acceptance can be very subjective at times.

The manuscript deserved the medal it received, and I would suggest that the author seek out an agent or a publisher who is more receptive. They are out there.

SSweete wrote 229 days ago

Extremely amusing and good fun, loved the character!

Kim Sayker wrote 283 days ago

Just put this on my watchlist, and I must say looks like a genuinely enchanting tale. Really love the bit 'Who they truly are'

george kohlman wrote 284 days ago

I like the writing of this.

Kmaria wrote 417 days ago

Ever wonder why you cannot recall a dream upon awakening? Meet the Dream Gypsies.


Hi my name is Kareasa, I would like to read your book and comment honestly, and would appreciate if you would take a look at Gypsy of Vilda. :) a YA/MG fantasy.Thanks for your time. :)

KMM

phillc wrote 419 days ago

read the first chapter really enjoyed it

My2Cents wrote 429 days ago

What a great story and so well written. Well paced and captures the imagination as well as the attention of the young and young at heart. The one fault I can find is that there isn't enough of it; hopefully there will be in the near future!

M Morgan wrote 434 days ago

A clever idea, well written, that does exactly what it says on the tin. Excellent.

ibholdvictory wrote 439 days ago

JJ, congratulations to you have. What a great book for children. Hope to see you in print soon.

Catherine

Davidvan wrote 440 days ago

Love it! elements of Watership Down and other lovely stories I still read. I like the easy style and reliance upon word pictures. Well done!

Stark Silvercoin wrote 447 days ago

There are a very few books that can actually change a child’s life. We’re lucky if we find one title that we can hold dear in our hearts as we grow old, or one book that represents childhood and the joys of innocence. We have a very limited window of time to find it too, before the world and school and the pressures of growing up force us to banish childish things from our lives. And those of us who find that one book are truly blessed, because we are surely better people for it. Magic of the Frogs could easily be that book for so many children. It deserves to be published before they too join us in the ranks of less-happy adulthood.

Author JJ Marro paints his tale with magical and colorful brush strokes. His descriptions of place bring us right down into the story and his characters are memorable, even when they exist in the guise of humble frogs, or perhaps more so because of it.

The writing itself is stylistically perfect for the age group. It’s challenging enough so that readers will feel rewarded going through it, yet never so much so that it gets in the way of the adventure. It will help children learn to read, and learn to read better, even as it entertains them along the way.

Magic of the Frogs is destined to be a classic, and I know one day we will be talking about Marro in the same breath as Judy Blume and other authors who have made their mark on the world, and left it a better place.

John Breeden II
Old Number Seven

fictionguy8 wrote 449 days ago

I spent 14 years of my life watching all children's movies, tv shows and reading children's books to my children. When they finally grew past that, I thought I was done, then the grandchildren came. I am accustomed to children's stories now, but there are not many that are as charming as this story. You have quite an imagaination. I don't think I can ever write a story like that and I have been writing for 44 years. It is delightful, especially the characters and their wonderful names. You have a winner. I don't give 6 stars often, but you deserve six stars.

Laurence Howard wrote 450 days ago

A delightfully imaginative read. The kids will love it!
Backed with pleasure,
Laurence Howard, The Cross of Goa

Sarah J Ryan wrote 455 days ago

Lovely tale. Perfect for reading at bedtime, either alone or with a parent; without giving the little ones nightmares.
Sarah J Ryan

Sarah J Ryan wrote 455 days ago

Lovely tale. Perfect for reading at bedtime, either alone or with a parent; without giving the little ones nightmares.
Sarah J Ryan

Goliath Stokes wrote 456 days ago

This book has a lovely overall feel about it which, in my opinion, is a prerequisite to a successful aged 6-10 story.
When I think back to my childhood (which is difficult as my 'think' doesn't go that far back these days) memorable stories were Robin Hood, The Elves & the Shoemaker, Treasure Island, The Cat in the Hat - all quirky but with a clear storyline, larger-than-life characters and a generous sprinkling of magic dust. I think Magic of the Frogs has all of this.
Just one thing though, I prefer the original name which is actually one of the things that drew me to the book amongst the vast pile of other books on here. I can understand why the name might have changed for commercial reasons, but 'Magic of the Frogs' is more memorable and has more standout for me. Just sayin' .Cover works a treat though :)

Good luck with your ED review. High stars from me.
Goliath Stokes

yoyokid123ialsolovereadingnot wrote 457 days ago

this is a goood fuc*in book i actually like it and i hate reading wtf lol

Brian G Chambers wrote 465 days ago

Chirg
I cannot understand why I have not commented on this before now. It is a great childrens story and well deserves to be where it is now. I am going to shelve this and hope you would do me the honour of having a look at my Tales for Children. I look forward to hear what you think of it.
Brian.

Michael Matula wrote 466 days ago

This is a CWOG review, as well as a Children's Reading Group (CHIRG) and Write the Fantasy (WTF) review:

Truly lovely start to the book, and a very enjoyable, light sense of humor. There's some great writing, and the story is brimming with imagination. I really enjoyed the quirky group of characters you've assembled here, with the pompous sprite and the daring frog, and there was a real sense of adventure and fun.

I wrote down a few notes as I read, though they're all quite minor, and could simply be subjective. Please do disregard anything you disagree with.
CHAPTER 1:
- “the pond(')s trusted guardian.”
- “Occasionally, Bastion would encounter one or more of them.” - I wasn't sure about this line, as it felt a bit like stating the obvious, though it could be perfectly fine for the age group.
- “listened intently” and “listened carefully” were in the same paragraph. I might possibly take one out.
CHAPTER 2:
- I might change the line to: “He cut the hook off the line with his sword(, being) careful not to cut himself.”
- There were quite a few instances of “as he” in this chapter for me, including two in the sentence starting with “Bastion held his sides as he laughed”; I'd try to mix up the phrasing a bit to avoid using this too often.

Despite a few very minor quibbles, though, I thought you did an excellent job with this, and I had a great time reading it so far.
Very high stars.

Mike
What, the Elf?
Arrival of the Ageless

John Lovell wrote 466 days ago

I've just finished chapters 4-10 and I've decided to back the book for many reasons. Mainly because I believe it to be joint best young children's book on this site (alongside Grampa's Teeth). The story never loses purpose, pace and isn't afraid to show a little bit of death. I wasn't making many notes and just want to read out of pure enjoyment but the parts that stood out for me were the small details, such as the fly sandwich. Bastion skidding around the pond on his bottom added that humorous image, Delathalion and his castle area was cool, Draqur was a villain with simple motives and great for the target audience. The deaths of Morgana and Voltar were actually a bit unexpected and made the story better. Baldar's battle with them was good, I was glad Gerald lived because he added comic value to the story. The story had a great ending for what it is and no doubt there can be more from Bastion and Larien.

Fantastic children's book that is worth the read. Well done JJ

Mark Cain wrote 467 days ago

CWOG Review

A charming tale, charmingly told. One of the nice things about reading a children's tale on authonomy is that it's usually not so long one can't finish it. I read the entire story. Talking frogs, snakes, fish, and turtles. Swashbuckling amphibians. all great fun.

This is a story that I think a child would very much enjoy. It could be read to a child over a week's period or it could be an early book that the child reads him/herself.

Nicely done. I can see why it's so popular on the site.

Mark
HELL'S SUPER

CARite wrote 468 days ago

Magic of the Frogs - The name says it all. A whimsical tale that is sure to please the younger crowd, the stage is set early with mystery of the sprite and the terrors of the serpents. Of course there's also , the heroic Bastion to guard over them all and keep them safe! Nicely done...
Cindy
CADreiliing - The Line - Beginnings

Seringapatam wrote 469 days ago

This is a fantastic childrens book and I can see good times ahead if you support and push it. You have chosen a Genre that is very difficult to write for yet you do it with ease. I have to congratulate you on a brilliant book.
Sean Connolly British Army on the Rampage. (B.A.O.R) Please consider adding me to your wish list wont you. Happy New Year.

Sid-bh wrote 469 days ago

I know frogs, but I never know duty bound frogs, king frogs, mermaid-flirting frogs, gaurd frogs.- OH..MY.. Mr. JJ where did you get all these frogs. don't tell me from your brain. Highly starred and on my W/L. On the way to my shelf.

Carrie Barrie wrote 471 days ago

Adorable story. I love it, and want it to stay on the Ed. desk! 6 stars and going on my bookshelf! =D

Jaclyn Aurore wrote 471 days ago

i don't have room on my shelf sadly, and it needs 24 hours for it to even matter - but i wanted to give your froggy book some love before the year ends so i've added you back to my watch list, ramped up your stars... and wrote a comment just because

big hearts! and a happy new year!

Lionell wrote 471 days ago

Hi Jack, A friend asked me to look at your book and I have read the first chapter and based on what i read and especially looking at your write up and purpose of the book. I have starred it a six . I hope this will help you to stay on the desk. Good Luck!

maretha wrote 471 days ago

CHIRG REVIEW
Magic of the Frogs/J.J. Marro
Bastion the frog brought a smile to my face. He is the kind of guy many would enjoy to have as a friend. Your description at the pond is really magical and a child will very easily be able to "live" in this world :-) You've created enough excitement and wonder to keep young minds occupied and when the sprite turns up, Bastion is quite off his stride of looking busy as if he's fishing...
many stars from me and all the best on the Ed's desk
Maretha
African Adventures of Flame, Family, Furry and Feathered Friends

faith rose wrote 472 days ago

I'm so happy to see this lovely book in the top 5! I remember visiting it on this site awhile back...a wonderful piece!

All the best,
~Faith

Madeagle wrote 473 days ago

I have started to read this book it is great so far! highly starred!

Thomas

AlexandraMahanaim wrote 474 days ago

Wonderful, wonderful story, filled with bravery and magic. I read the whole thing and truly enjoyed it. It should definitely make it. I also like the cover--it is beautifully done. Larien is my favorite, of course. I thought it was nice that she went on into another existence, continuing the prior legacy. I enjoyed the description of Bastion's duties around the pond--described so well, can definitely picture it perfectly. I also liked the fact that all the people of Covington end up being alive--no one died from the final attack.

Hope you will return the read of Return to Eternity,
Alexandra

Steph Merrix wrote 477 days ago

Hi

This was a great piece I feel that you have created a colurful and engaging world that I found myself become involved in I loved all the elements and your writing style is good and allows the story to progress , a really lovely piece that all children would love - starred and on my shelf !

Good luck
Steph

Fragmented wrote 479 days ago

I only read a few chapters, but have backed you to help keep you at the desk :-)

If you ever have time, would appreciate it if you would look at my work too

Thanks

xx

John Lovell wrote 482 days ago

CWOG and CHIRG review Chapters 1-3

JJ, I have to admit I'm into this more than I thought I was going to be. You've blatantly created this small world (so far) down to the tiniest details. Bastion is easily liked, his mannerisms and the way he talks are memorable. There's a fun element to it too. I made the connection with the name Mr. Bass straight away and laughed that they used that name as part of a joke.

I didn't read the pitch until just now - I don't like having spoilers if I can help it. The story Larien tells in Chapter 3 comes as a great surprise. I didn't see that coming - although you give the hint of snakes and frogs being the only animals that can talk. More than anything, children would love this. The age range I'd say you're aiming for is about right.

I will read more (I often read full stories on here when I can and with this being in the top 5 now I may have to complete it pretty sharpish) Anyways well done. - Awesome cover too.

John

riantorr wrote 486 days ago

Great cover!

Rian Torr
New London Masquerade
www.ATstudio.ca

fit wrote 487 days ago

What can I say? I love frogs.

Jaclyn Aurore wrote 487 days ago

Hi there,

I saw your book rising to the top and figured it must be good - plus I've already told you how cool your cover is, so why not give it a read?

First off, have you considered joinging WTF - I think your book would fit right in:
invite to WTF: http://authonomy.com/forums/threads/106125/wtf-write-the-fantasy/

I love the unique names of Bastion and Larien...

This is for sure a cute children's tale... but it's fun for all!

I like to comment on one or two things that jump out at me - things i might do differently, or spelling/grammar mistakes, but nothing caught my eye. This is highly polished and enjoyable - not at all surprised it is doing so well!
you'll be number 1 next month, easily :)

cheers for now
Jaclyn x
It Never Happened

Mysky1 wrote 490 days ago

As I love pond fishing, I entered the frog world very quickly. Your easy to read story will (I am sure) help send a child to dreamland without a fuss.

fit wrote 491 days ago

Read it in one sitting. Loved it and will back it.

U.B. Harper21 wrote 497 days ago

Hello JJ.

This is a very enjoyable read and I even smiled as I finished the first chapter (doesn't happen often). I think you really have something special here and I think children will simply adore this book. It is well written and your talent for painting pictures with your writing is astounding. I will not only watchlist this and come back to finish it, but I will gladly back this wonderful piece of work. There are only a very few bits of grammar mistakes but none really to make note of. I really wish the best for you and this book and congrats on a wonderful job! -Uriel Author of Spark

Andrea Taylor wrote 497 days ago

This is lovely. Clearly written, very good well-drawn characters and a believable setting. Excellent!
Andrea
The de Amerley Affair

ibholdvictory wrote 499 days ago

JJ Great writing. Wonderful story telling. So creative and enjoyable to read. I am sure any one looking for a good children's read should not miss this one. It is exciting and full of life. Makes the reader want to know more. Lovely. I shall find space to support you soon. You are going into my watch list. Great book.

Catherine
"If Only You Could Tell"

aguzzi12 wrote 499 days ago

This story is great! Kind of like "Wind in the Willows" with a magic twist. I love it so far. I will be putting this on my shelf I think.

Lufane wrote 499 days ago

Reading it and (just because I'm picky like this [sorry]) I've noticed a few grammatical errors... Save that and it is a very well written story. It is, however, not my kind of read. Well written, I will give you that, I just wouldn't read the whole thing.

Fiona Murtagh wrote 500 days ago

I've just started to read your book, and I think it is really enjoyable. It is very imaginitive, and well written. I think children of any age would find this a good read. I would love it if you could have a quick look at my book and see what you think. Dream Questers is a fantasy novel for children and young adults, with all the usual suspects - dragons, elves, wizards, etc. It is my first book, and I would love some feedback.
Good luck with your book.
Fiona

Cathy Hardy wrote 500 days ago

Hi, thanks for accepting my friend request, your pitch looks great. There are only certain children;'s book that I enjoy, but this looks like one of them. Added to my watch list x

Cathy

superostah wrote 513 days ago

Thanks for the invite to check this book out, it's a very fun read. I only read through the first chapter, but I can already see a magical world filled with all sorts of things for children to meet as Bastion continues on his epic adventure to wherever the fairy leads him.
I'll toss you up on my watchlist and will be back to read more as time permits.

Blancherose wrote 519 days ago

This is lovely! I adore frogs and your have woven a hopping tale with these sweet little magic amphibians.
Blessings!
Please read my second book Scribe-LIngs for children.
Thank X

Mawdlin wrote 520 days ago

This is based on the first 4 chapters but I do intend to read more. I very much preferred chapters 3 and 4 to the first two. For me it did seem to take a while to find some kind of hook or point of tension. You evoke the world beautifully but, perhaps personal taste here, I found the descriptions and scene setting just went on a bit too long. However, once more characters were introduced and the excellent hook of the 'tale' at the end of chapter 2 were brought in I really began to warm to it.

I love all the names you give to your world and characters and somehow they are all pitch perfect and just work. For me I enjoyed your conversations which fizzed and sparkled and wonder if you couldn't introduce a bit more of this in the first two chapters..? but again this could just be down to personal taste.

Personally I have never quite got on with anthropomorphic books but this one may well change my views on that!

I enjoyed the language and world you'd evoked.

Mawdlin
The Witches' Cauldron

Eva H wrote 526 days ago

CHIRG review
I loved this - such a wonderful tale. Perfect for the age group. Beautifully described with strong characterisation. There are some clever ideas in here. Love the sinisters snakes. Larien is truly magical. I could picture Covington perfectly. This is exactly the kind of story I would have read to my son when he was younger, and I know he would have loved it. Wishing you much luck, and success with MOTF.
Eva H
Children of the Raven