Stuck on Stick

   Following the stagnant, overbearing heat of summer, the first crisp gusts of fall sweep in and invigorate our souls.  Everyone heads outside to prance and cavort in the cool grass and shade of the full trees before the leaves fall, especially the animals.  This time of year always has me searching for whimsical books that transport us to different realms of nature.  Time and time again, we always grab the same one when we head to the park, to the campsite, or to a picnic.  We are stuck on Stick by Steve Breen.

The Story

   Like any other growing little creature, Stick is every parent's worst nightmare and finest treasure- naïve, independent, and determined to pave his own trail.  Even the slight freedoms his mother allows for this long-legged rascal aren't enough.  He wants more.  Stick wants to prove to himself, his parents, and the world that he can do it on his own!  Until one day at lunch, his eyes were too big for his head, and he got carried away- literally!  This audacious amphibian takes us on a raucous sail through the soggy backwaters of New Orleans, into the heart of the French Quarter, onto and above the streets of Cajun country all by himself, "until Stick really was all by himself."  Thankfully, Stick overcomes his stubbornness and asks a swamp regular, the great blue heron, for a ride and makes it back home safely!

The Storyteller

   Steve Breen tackled writing a children's book for the first time with Stick but is no stranger to illustrating.  While earning a bachelor degree in political science at the University of California, Riverside, he began contributing editorial cartoons to the school paper, The Highlander.  Poised to become a history teacher for high school students, Breen was offered a job by Asbury Park Press in the art department.  After two years there, he became the full-time editorial cartoonist in 1996.  [source]  Now a two time Pulitzer-Prize winning editorial cartoonist for The San-Diego Tribune, his pointed but "polite-ical" cartoons can be found in The New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, and US News and World Report.
   As a celebrated illustrator and father of five, Breen reels us into the bayou with his dazzling depictions of the moss, the gators, the music, and one adorable little frog.  You can feel the wind of the highway press your face and hear the sound of the fisherman's boats tug along with his whimsical panel illustrations. 
   But this tale is not without a gaggle of giggles!  Since the story is told in the style of a comic book with few words, I end up adding silly sound effects to pair with Stick's hilarious predicaments.  Even without my ad lib, his tale is full of ridiculous physical comedy and a surprise ending that always gets belly laughs from my girls- no matter how many times we've read it before!

A sneak peek at the ending. 

The Review

   From the very first time I read Stick to my girls, they laughed out loud and have asked me to read it again, and again, and again ever since!  Because there are so few words, we enjoy making up dialogue and parts of the story as we go along.  We add a different twist to the characters each time we visit Stick!  This book is one of the reasons I will never stop shopping at discount bookstores.  Without them, I may never have found this gem!  Stick (recommended for preschool - third grade) easily earned 5 out of 5 blueberries as our 16th Blueberry Book!!

The Classroom

   I found some super cute crafts to get your little ones excited about Stick and his wonderful world as a frog!  Click HERE to download the Life Cycle of a Frog Wheel for free!


   I love the idea of using blowers to demonstrate
how the tongue of a frog stretches!


 This poem would be a great way to combine science and reading lesson plans!

And for those a bit more patient than others,
this free Origami Jumping Frog and Frog Mask look fun!!


According to this lesson plan, we aren't that different from frogs.

   How are you similar to a frog?
  • I hop about madly never going very far.
  • I stick out my tongue a lot.
  • I love green and I'm cute.
  • I often feel like a stick in the mud.

Lastly, here are some discussion questions, courtesy of Leslie Preddy!

  • What do you know about frogs?
  • What do frogs eat?
  • How do frogs eat?
  • What adventures have you gone on or want to go on?

   During reading:

  • What kind of things do you like to do by yourself? (page 1)
  • What do you think Stick’s mom is thinking on this page? (page 2-3). 
  • Do you think Stick realizes the danger he could face? (page 6-7)
  • What do you think will happen when Stick goes through town? (page 9)
  • What do you think “jazzy city” means? (page 10)
  • What do you think will happen next to Stick? (page 13)
  • Why is everyone in town chasing Stick? (page 16)
  • What do you think will carry Stick away this time? (page 19)
  • By looking at the picture, what do you think the motorcycle rider is thinking? (page 20)
  • What do you think Stick is feeling by looking at this picture? Why? (page 27)
  • Why do you think Stick finally asks for help? (page 28)
  • How do you think Stick and his mom will feel when they see each other again? (page 33)  
  • What happened to the lightening bug? (page 38)


  • What do you think Stick learned while he was away from home?
  • Do you think he will go on another adventure anytime soon? 

Thank you for reading!
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