Most everyone, regardless of age, knows Frog and Toad — the beloved characters of the four 1970s children’s book series, “Frog and Toad,” by the late Jewish author and illustrator Arnold Lobel. Now there’s some speculation that the characters may have been more than just friends, but romantic partners.
Lobel’s own daughter Adrianne, who also illustrated two of her father’s books after his death, recently suggested, in an interview with The New Yorker, that the two friends may have been gay, stating:
“[They are] of the same sex, and they love each other. It was quite ahead of its time in that respect.”
In 1974, Lobel came out to his family, which was four years after the first book in the series was published. Adrianne went on to say that she thinks “‘Frog and Toad’ really was the beginning of him coming out.”
This is not too big of a stretch, since the books solely center around the deep friendship between Frog and Toad. New Yorker writer Colin Stokes went on to say in the piece that their friendship may closely resemble a romantic relationship:
“In the end, the trials of their relationship are worth bearing, because Frog and Toad are most content when they’re together.”
Speculation about the nature of their relationship aside, Lobel’s “Frog and Toad” stories themselves beautifully illustrate the power love, trust, and support can make in someone’s life — and what better lesson can we teach our kids?
Sadly, Lobel could never confirm or deny any of Adrianne’s speculations, as he died from a heart attack in 1987 at age 54. He also suffered from AIDS during his life. In a previous interview with the children’s book journal The Lion and the Unicorn, the author explained how he weaves his personal life into his stories:
“You know, if an adult has an unhappy love affair, he writes about it. Well, if I have an unhappy love affair, I have to somehow use all that pain and suffering but turn it into a work for children.”
In 2012, The Jim Henson Company announced that they’re developing an animated film adaptation of the “Frog and Toad” stories. We can’t wait to see them.