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FROG IN THE WELL
Retold by Irene Y. Tsai
Illustrated by Pattie Caprio
CE Bilingual Books
pages with enchanting illustrations
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 childrens bookrecommended for ages five
and upadults 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
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 knowjust 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 childrenbuy an extra one to
give as a gift that is bound to please.
Bettie Corbin Tucker
For IP Book Reviewers
June 19, 2008
HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Frog in the Well
Author: Irene Y. Tsai
Illustrator: Pattie Caprio
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
Tsai, Irene Y. The Frog in the Well (published in 2008 by CE Bilingual Books LLC). The title of this Chinese-English bilingual book is a Chinese idiom. Chinese idioms, which are frequently used in the Chinese language, usually consist of four characters and tell a story based on folklore, myth, historical fact. There is also a moral teaching demonstrated. In this story, a frog hops into a well and thinks that because he knows everything in the well he is the smartest frog in the world. Then he meets a turtle from the sea and learns that there is a bigger world outside of the well. Thus, "the frog in the well" describes a narrow-minded person who thinks he knows a lot but really does not.
This is an interesting and fun story on its own for children to read, but there is an added benefit for parents who are interested in having their children exposed to the Chinese language. The story is not only told in English, but it is also written in Chinese, as translated by Joyce Lin, with both traditional and simplified characters, along with Pinyin, a phonetic notation that uses the Roman alphabet to represent sounds in Mardarin Chinese, and Zhu Yin Fu Hao, another phonetic notation for learning to read, write, and speak Mandarin. If you want your children to learn more about China and its culture, you should find
this book very useful.
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. Dont just sit there
hop on over and pick up a copy of The Frog in the Well.
Michigan State Superintendent of Schools (20012005), 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
childrens 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 childrens 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,
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. Im
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.
Much to my delight, the book is actually printed in a total of 5 different
scripts, allowing for a maximum audience of English and Chinese speaking
children and parents. All text is printed in English, as well as both
simplified and traditional Chinese scripts. This is quite notable, as
most Chinese and Chinese bilingual texts will be printed in simplified
OR traditional, but not both. This makes the book remarkably democratic
-- equally accessible to Mainland Chinese and to Taiwanese/Hong Kong
parents, as well as to the assorted Chinese diaspora throughout the
world (most of whom use traditional characters). Additionally, each
Chinese script is accompanied by phonetic markers -- Roman script (roma
pinyin ¬€¬Ì´˜âþ) with the simplified characters,
and "bo po mo fo" (íçâþïÑÂj)
with the traditional characters. This makes the Chinese version accessible
not only to fluent Chinese readers, but also to Chinese literacy learners,
whether they be child learners or second language learners. Essentially,
this means that one can read the Chinese words, even if one does not
know the character. This makes the book a valuable lesson in literacy
learning for both Chinese L1 children, as well as for L2 learners of
Chinese as a foreign language. A quick note on the type font: probably
for reasons of type-setting conventions, the traditional characters
are presented in a smaller, different font from the simplified characters.
This, combined with the different spacing conventions (inherent when
printing the roma pinyin) made the simplified version much more eye-catching,
and sometimes easier for me to read -- even though I am much more familiar
(re. "literate") in traditional script. For non-natives, such
as myself, the traditional script will require more visual attention.
All characters are written in a script which is large enough to see
clearly at an extended arm's length (i.e., how one would often read
to small groups of children while showing the pictures), but if one
is dependent upon the bo po mo fo to read, it will be difficult to see
those markers without moving the book closer to one's eyes. The illustrations
are delightful and colorful. Of pedagogical importance, there is enough
happening in most pictures to spur some reader-child interaction to
further vocabulary learning.
Pedagogically, I think this book would be an important addition to any
Chinese language classroom. The variety of scripts permits reading access
by even first semester students of Chinese. Learner age is actually
immaterial in the second language context. I was thoroughly entertained,
although at 33, I'm well beyond the book's intended audience. Towards
the back of the book, there is a vocabulary chart which heightens the
usefulness in L2 contexts. The book would also be of considerable interest
to Chinese who are living and raising children in English-speaking countries,
and to parents who want their children to learn Chinese.
Reviewed by: Clay Williams
The title of this Chinese-English bilingual book is a Chinese idiom.
Chinese idioms, which are frequently used in the Chinese language, usually
consist of four characters and tells a story based on folklore, myth,
historical fact. There is also a moral teaching demonstrated. In this
story, a frog hops into a well and thinks that because he knows everything
in the well he is the smartest frog in the world. Then he meets a turtle
from the sea and learns that there is a bigger world outside of the
well. Thus, "the frog in the well" describes a narrow-minded
person who thinks he knows a lot but really does not.
This is an interesting and fun story on its own for children to read,
but there is an added benefit for parents who are interested in having
their children exposed to the Chinese language.
The story is not only told in English, but it is also written in Chinese,
as translated by Joyce Lin, with both traditional and simplified characters,
along with Pinyin, a phonetic notation that uses the Roman
alphabet to represent sounds in Mardarin Chinese, and Zhu Yin Fu Hao,
another phonetic notation for learning to read, write, and speak Mandarin.
If you want your children to learn more about
China and its culture, you should find this book very useful.
Stories for Children Magazine 5 Star Review
REVIEWED BY: Wayne S. Walker
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
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 its 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. Its
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. Hes 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 yus 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.Its
not written in rhyme as many children picture books are but it does
have a certain poetic feel in the way
it describes the frogs world,very like an haiku. Its really
quite a lovely book.
The 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
he is humbled yet ready to learn more about all he doesnt 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
These books will also be available at Barnes & Nobel ISBN-13:
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