Written and illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
“Stand tall, Frog Belly Rat Bone! I dub thee king of the Treasures!” This monster tale is far from sweet or cute, but there is a certain charm about it. This tale is well-suited for a second or third grade boy (or girl, for that matter) who appreciates stories and art from off the beaten path. The protagonist in this story is a special boy from a dreary place called Cementland. When the boy’s wish to find treasure comes true, he follows the treasure’s directions to bury the “specks” found within the treasure box. After his treasure disappears one night, he decides to build Frog Belly Rat Bone, king of the Treasures. When the boy and Frog Belly Rat Bone bury the treasure, they discover how truly wonderful it is. It’s a treasure that returns many dividends and beautifies Cementland: flowers! Ering’s book would be a fantastic addition to any unit about Spring, Arbor day or Earth day.
The themes of environmentalism, friendship, and patience are also well-suited for several different journal prompts including, “Have you ever planted anything? Tell about that experience.” “Who is your most unlikely friend, and what makes him/her so special to you.” Or “What was the most rewarding thing you every waited for, the thing or event that required the most patience from you.” Frog Belly Rat Bone is well suited for reading aloud, and as a follow-up comprehension activity, students may answer simple questions about the main who, what, when, where, why, and how of the book. To produce a classroom garden, students could plant their own “specks” in zipper bags or cups filled with soil. How fulfilling to watch their own garden growing day to day.