Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at City Dog, Country Frog

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at City dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems.

For once, I don’t have a personal story to tell you that relates to the picture book I’m reviewing. So, why am I reviewing this book, you might ask? Because it’s about friendship, and friends are precious to me.

I thought I had a lot of friends when I was a child until my mother told me what a true friend is.

“A true friend,” she said, “is someone who will always be there for you no matter what. A true friend is someone who won’t make you feel bad for your choices and will support you in your decisions.” Then Mom added, “If you think about all the people you call a friend and really look closely at the relationship you have with them, you’ll only have enough true friends to count on one hand. The rest,” she said, “are acquaintances.”

That seemed a little harsh, so I softened it by renaming the two categories: True friends and friends.

We all have at least one friend we especially like being around. That person is someone who brings out the best version of ourselves. This leads me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, City Dog, Country Frog. A story of two unlikely friends who discover a great joy when they are together.

Title – City Dog, Country Frog – view on Amazon HERE.

Written by – Mo Willems

Illustrated by – Jon J Muth

Published by – Hyperion Books for Children 2010

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics/Theme –  Friendship and loss

Opening – Spring.

City dog didn’t stop on that first day in the country; he ran as far and as fast as he could and all without a leash!

Amazon Review – In spring, when City Dog runs free in the country for the first time, he spots Country Frog sitting on a rock, waiting for a friend. “You’ll do,” Frog says, and together they play Country Frog games. In summer, they meet again and play City Dog games. Through the seasons, whenever City Dog visits the country he runs straight for Country Frog’s rock. In winter, things change for City Dog and Country Frog. Come spring, friendship blooms again, a little different this time.

Mo Willems’ spare, poignant text and Jon J. Muth’s expressive watercolors team up to tell a story that will resonate with readers of all ages.

Why do I like this book? The reader is taken along on a friendship between two unlikely characters – a city dog and a country frog. Through words and tender, watercolor illustrations, we feel the dog’s excitement each time he bounds outside through the changing seasons to be with country frog. This is the story of a friendship, how it began, how it grew in strength, and how all this changed…ended…when winter came. When spring arrives, a new friend comes into dog’s life. Yes, this is the story of loss, and Mo Willems handles this delicate subject with great care, ending not with a feeling of sorrow, but instead, with a feeling of hopefulness.

Learn about Mo Willems HERE.

Learn about Jon J Muth HERE.

Find more picture book reviews at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog HERE.

Activities to do with children –  Have children think of two very different animals such as the dog and frog in today’s picture book. Then, have them think up some games like hopscotch, jump rope, or twister. Ask them which animal would have the easiest time playing that game and why. Ask  what would make it challenging for the other animal and why? Maybe brainstorm ideas on what each animal could do to play that game.

Grab a glass of wine or cup of coffee and let’s have a toast to friendship.



  1. Lindsey McDivitt

    Lovely sounding book! Important message for children here. I’m with you on friends Leslie! Hope you’re enjoying their company this holiday weekend!

  2. Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

    Well…no plans to spend the weekend with friends, but definitely plans to be with my husband and daughter, and that is plenty perfect!

  3. Patricia Tilton

    Thank you for sharing your mother’s wise words. So true. I’d add a third category — acquaintances — like the friends we have on FB, or through our blogging community.

    Love that cover. You know it’s going to be a great story. I’m glad Mo includes loss and the cycle of life in the story.

    • Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

      It’s so true. A great front cover so often comes with a meaningful or too-fun-to-only-read-once kind of story. I’ve checked this book out several times. I enjoy it that much. And you’re right about adding a third category. We all have loads of acquaintances.

  4. julie rowan zoch

    An original painting from this book hangs at Books of Wonder in NYC should you ever get the chance to pop in!

  5. Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

    That would be wonderful to see! The watercolor illustrations in this book add such a lovely level to the story. Jon J Muth is quite the talented artist.

  6. books4learning

    Sounds like a sweet story! I love stories about friendship too. 🙂 Only, I disagree that a true friend always supports your decisions. I think a real friend tells you the truth–even when it hurts. Sometimes that means not supporting all her decisions. Sometimes people need to be talked metaphorically off a ledge or encouraged not to follow destructive behaviors. Just me two cents. 🙂

    • Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

      You’ve made a very good point. You’re very right. Depending on the situation, telling the truth to a friend is far better than supporting them. Thank you for adding your two cents. I appreciate that.

  7. Cathy Ballou Mealey

    My daughter was deep into Elephant and Piggie and Pigeon books when we saw this title at our library. It was so different from the books that she knew and loved that she decided it must be another writer named Mo Willems. Had I read this review in advance I would have been better prepared to help her appreciate the truths in this book!

    • Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

      I know what you mean. I never expected this to be a story of loss. This was quite different from the other books by Mo Willems. But, I thought he handled the theme rather well.

  8. ptnozell

    What a wonderful choice and what a wise mother you have. So glad I was able to spend some time with a dear friend this weekend.

  9. Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

    The theme Mo Willems chose for the book surprised me, but because of how well he handled it, I wanted to share it here. A weekend with friends is a great thing!