'Frog and Toad' by Late Jewish Author Arnold Lobel Will Finally Be an Animated Show – Kveller
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‘Frog and Toad’ by Late Jewish Author Arnold Lobel Will Finally Be an Animated Show

The new Apple TV+ series was executive-produced by his two children.


via Apple TV+

Good children’s books stay with you forever — not just their stories, but the sensations they evoke. That’s true about “The 16th Sheep,” by Israeli author Yehonatan Geffen, who passed away today, and it’s especially true about the books of Jewish author Arnold Lobel.

That’s why I’m so happy that his Caldecott and Newberry award-winning children’s book “Frog and Toad” is becoming an animated show, created by Titmouse Studios (“Big Mouth”) and co-produced by Sobel’s children, Adrianne and Adam.

Lobel created moments and images that, as a reader, always live with me: giant ice cream cones and dense chocolate chip cookies you can taste, the sense of comfort in companionship that you find in the quiet moments of togetherness. With his creatures, Lobel taught me what it means to be a living, feeling being, what it feels like to make mistakes, and ways of imagining and defining myself (I always felt like a Toad who wanted to be more of a Frog, but really, most likely, I am Owl from his incredible “Owl At Home”).

Lobel was the grandson of Jewish German immigrants, and was raised mostly by his grandparents in Schenectady, New York. His most reliable companions as a kid were books. At Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, Lobel met his wife, fellow children’s book illustrator and author Anita Lobel, a Jewish Polish Holocaust survivor, and the two settled and raised their kids across from Park Slope Zoo. Lobel’s early children’s’ book illustration gigs were all of Jewish books — like “Happy Times With Hanukkah Rhymes” by Tamar Grand and “My First Book of Alef-Bet” by Edythe and Sol Scharfstein. He released the first of four “Frog and Toad” books in 1970. He came out to his family as gay in 1974, and separated from Anita in the 1980s.

In the years since his death from AIDS in 1987, his daughter, Adrianne, confirmed that Frog and Toad’s friendship may have been more of a companionship, and that telling the story helped her father in his journey of coming out.

While I still think nothing will be quite as great as the original books — the delicate illustrations, the space between the words — the forthcoming series does seem to capture some of that magic, and I’m so excited to have this new way of sharing the enchantment of “Frog and Toad” with my little ones.

The just released trailer for the show is full of evocative moments from the book series — the cookies, the ice cream, the thistles and little island, and, of course, Frog and Toad on their iconic tandem bike.

The cast features some delightful comedian and actors. Academy Award-winning screenwriter, actor and comedian Nat Faxon (“Our Flag Means Death,” “Disenchantment”) voices Frog and Emmy Award nominee Kevin Michael Richardson (“Leelo & Stitch,” “American Dad!” and too many iconic voice credits to name) is a most excellent Toad. Other characters are voiced by the wonderfully funny and delightful Ron Funches, Fortune Feimster, Yvette Nicole Brown, Margaret Cho and Cole Escola. What a cast!

“Frog and Toad” comes to Apple TV+ on April 28.

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