I meant to write another post, another review for a totally different book. But I read this today and couldn’t help it. There are times when you just have to do it and this is one of them. Have you ever heard of Tadpole’s Promise– a children book written by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Tony Ross? If you haven’t you must know that it won the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize (Nestlé Children’s Book Prize) Silver Award. I’m positive, children weren’t the ones who voted as that is one of the saddest books I’ve read lately, plus it has a very disturbing subliminal message.You might think I’m a freak with all the hidden messages I find behind books, blame it on BA in Journalism and Communication Studies. 🙂
Back to our book now, we have a love story here. Actually it’s more of a tragedy in the end, but it starts as a love story with lots of hearts and promises. The main characters in this plot are a tadpole (see the title) and a caterpillar who even have nicknames- black pearl and beautiful rainbow. They promise each other to never change, stay the same forever, but you see life is complicated. And things, people, tadpoles, caterpillars do change in time. So children have to learn it from an early age, from a book. The tadpole breaks his promises three times by becoming a frog so caterpillar ends brokenhearted. But he’s not the only one who changes. Over the time, caterpillar transforms himself/herself into a beautiful butterfly and decides to give tadpole a second chance. He/She still loved him after all. I’m not sure about the butterfly’s gender but being the rainbow, can’t help associate it with LGBT community. Which is a very good thing as discrimination is not something we want to teach children. So the Rainbow butterfly decides to see tadpole/frog again, but when it arrives at the place where they usually met, he’s being swallowed by its lovely friend. The book ends with the sad tadpole who still waits for the rainbow caterpillar to come back and be friends again. Of course he didn’t realize he ate his friend. But as my colleague said “At least they can be together forever after that”, or as I must add, at least until his digestion is finished. So kids, be aware, never fall in love, because you’ll end up to be eaten alive by the loved one.
I still wonder what was Mrs. Jeanne Willis thinking when she wrote this book. Maybe it happened after she broke up with someone so she wanted to send a clear message to future generations. Whatever the reasons behind it, the book is not OK. It’s not right or suitable for children and it is not a story I would read again. Can’t even rate it, so I just leave it like that. Hope to find nicer stories in the future 🙂