An Army of Frogs

by Trevor Pryce with Joel Naftali.

Ages 8 to 12.

Darel has big dreams. He wants to be a warrior. That might sound a bit strange considering that Darel is a frog. Specifically, he’s a wood frog, which isn’t particularly impressive even in the frog world.

But once readers get to know young Darel, the main character in “An Army of Frogs,” it doesn’t take a big leap of faith to think that he could become a warrior.

Darel’s father was a great warrior who died in battle. He had been part of a group of poisonous frogs called Kulipari. Darel is determined to follow the same path. So he studies and practices his warrior moves. Only two things stand in his way: He’s not poisonous, and there hasn’t been a threat to his homeland, the Amphibilands, for many years.

Those two things are enough for fellow frogs to think he’s a little nutty. They feel completely secure from their foes, the scorpions and the spiders, because of a magical protection called the Veil. What is the Veil? “It’s a trick of the mind that confuses the enemy when he gets too close,” explains Old Jir, a frog elder.

Sergue, the turtle king, created the Veil to protect the frogs after their last encounter with the spiders and scorpions. And it worked for years. The enemy couldn’t find them. At least not till now.

That’s because enemies usually plan revenge. Lord Marmoo of the scorpions and Queen Jarrah of the spiders have teamed up. Marmoo wants to take over the Amphibilands, and Jarrah wants to kill Sergue, the long-ago mentor she now considers a rival.

When Darel and his pal Gee spot several scorpions just inside the Veil, the warrior talk sounds a lot less ridiculous. Darel sends Gee home to warn the others and sneaks closer to spy on the scorpions.

What comes next forces Darel to test his warrior skills. He may not have poison as his father did, but he has determination and quick thinking that in some situations are even better weapons.

But Darel is still just one frog against thousands of scorpions and spiders. He’s going to need help to fight the ever-nearing invasion. He eventually realizes that a defense of the Amphibilands is going require every tree frog, swamp frog and wood frog to use his or her talents, no matter how small.

— Christina Barron

Author Trevor Pryce will talk about “An Army of Frogs” on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW.

Next week

The Familiars

By Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson. Ages 8 to 12.

Aldwyn, an alley cat, is hiding in a strange pet shop when a wizard boy named Jack chooses him to be a familiar, or a magical companion. The cat has no special powers, but when Jack and his friends are kidnapped, Aldwyn joins with two other familiars to attempt a rescue.

Click here to join the Summer Book Club.

Click here to share your favorite animal book.