By Patricia Hewitt
A few years ago Island resident Audrey Nourse was visiting her granddaughter, Giulia Shelton, now age 10, in Ohio. One spring evening they heard frogs singing. Giulia was curious; who was making the peeping sounds and why?
Nourse explained that the little singers were tree frogs. More questions followed. “Do the tree frogs grow up and get married?” Giulia wondered. Soon Nourse was telling the story of the frogs’ life cycle.
That magical moment shared by grandmother and granddaughter grew into the writing of a children’s picture book published in 2010. “In a small pond in a little neighborhood in a big city in the middle of Ohio, a gray blob of jelly quivered and shivered, wiggled and jiggled, until out popped a slithery, round, tiny green creature with a long, squirmy tail.”
The stars of the book, tadpoles named after Nourse’s son (Timothy) and daughter-in-law (Edwina), grow into frogs, learn to climb trees, and eventually fall in love.
The story takes the little frogs through the seasons of the year. “The leaves on the tree turned from green to red and then fell to the ground. And it turned cold, and snow covered the branches of the tree. Edwina and Timothy found a cozy spot in the mud at the bottom of the pond, and they snuggled together and sang:
We are T, Peep Peep
We are T-R-E, Peep, Peep
We are T-R-E-E F-R-O-G-S, Peep Peep
And we are happy,
Are we happy?
You can bet that we will say a great big yes!”
The story doesn’t end here. After seeing Judy Perry’s art quilts, Nourse imagined a wonderful birthday surprise for Giulia: a quilt designed around their book “Timothy Tree Frog.
Perry, who also lives on the Island, sent images of the book to be scanned and transferred on fabric. She then began the design process looking for color, movement, and texture. Nourse said, “I was just amazed at what Judy was creating. It was well beyond what I had imagined.”
The quilt is a glorious, joyful dance of bright greens with red accents. Incorporated throughout are the scanned fabric images of the frogs with quotes from the text.
The quilt was presented to Giulia this summer. She said, “I have always loved to be read to. I like writing stories and talking about them. The quilt is very nice and fun!”
“Timothy Tree Frog” written by Audrey S. Nourse and Giulia M. Shelton; illustrated by Dan Cooper, 2010. Copies are available from Amazon.com.