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Frogs! Strange and Wonderful

THE STORY BEHIND THE BOOK

As usual, I learned a lot while working on this book. For example, in the manuscript I first sent to the publisher I referred to "frogs, and their close relatives, toads." That seemed to be accurate, based on my research. However, a herpetologist who read those words made it clear that scientists do not consider toads to be anything other than frogs. They are ALL FROGS!

I had also used the term "poison dart frogs," but learned that herpetologists prefer to all them simply "poison frogs"--except for those three species that were actually used to poison darts.

The book was published with a mistake in it, but not the sort of mistake that could have been prevented. Here's what happened: on page 11 I wrote about Earth's biggest and smallest frogs. I told of two species, the gold frog from Brazil and a Cuban frog that are tied for the title of "world's smallest four-footed animal." That was true: until January 2012! Then discovery of a new, even smaller frog was announced.

I quickly e-mailed editor Andy Boyles, asking him if there was still time to change the wording on page 11. Alas, it was too late. The book was already being printed, and so does not have this new discovery in it. However, when a second printing is done, it will tell of the frogs that WERE called the smallest. Then sentences will be added: "Then American herpetologists announced the discovery of even smaller frogs! These little champions measure just three-tenths of an inch long. They live among fallen leaves on the forest floor of Papua New Guinea. They have no tadpole stage, but are
born as tiny miniatures of the adults."

I hope you will read the Author's Note--A Life Full of Frogs, at the end of the book. The reviewer of Booklist, Carolyn Phelan, wrote, "An enjoyable author's note relates Pringle's close encounters with frogs as a child, as a father, as a wildlife photographer, and as a neighborhood ecologist acting locally to protect and even create anuran habitats."

That continues. In the summer of 2013 I dug deeper to help small ponds in nearby woods hold more water (and life). In 2014 I might dig a new one. Our spring evenings are sweetened by a chorus of spring peepers from the neighborhood wetland forest. Also, almost every day we visit our backyard garden pond. Several green frogs, large and small, live there. There are tadpoles of both green frogs and gray tree frogs. (Two of our cats are also frog-watchers. Fortunately, their fear of water usually keeps them from being frog-catchers.)