Monday, May 18, 2009

Review, Pobblebonks

Pobblebonk, pobblebonk, pobblebonk! Isn't that a great word? But what IS a pobblebonk?

Short answer: it's a frog.

Slightly longer answer: it's a Western Banjo Frog, also known as Lymnodynastes dorsalis, and it's found in the south-western corner of Western Australia. The male frog's call is like the plucking of a banjo string. When a group of males sing together, the chorus sounds like: pobblebonk.

Pobblebonks is the title of Garry Fleming's picture book (Hodder Headline Australia, 1998).

"At the end of my street where the tall reeds grow, live the pobblebonks.
What are they? Do you know?"

There's a mysterious feel to the accompanying double page illustration. Just right for the beginning of what is essentially a rhyming puzzle for the young reader to solve. The narrator proceeds to explain about pobblebonks obliquely - by telling us (and picturing) features they don't have, what they don't eat etc. More clues are added until at last we discover a pobblebonk lives in a jar beside his bed. The end papers tell us some facts about the frog.

From what I can discover,
Pobblebonks is no longer being published. It's definitely worth keeping an eye open for in secondhand stores or online (Amazon UK has one for 22 pounds!) Pobblebonks is a great book for young animal lovers, and would make a wonderful resource for students involved in environmental studies. I enjoyed it mostly as a puzzle book, because the illustrations are a collage of animal snippets, and it was fun to try to identify each creature.

Book Chook Tip: Puzzle books might be a way to get your reluctant reader interested in widening his range of reading. You could start with all visual puzzles like Where's Wally. Then introduce books with just a little text, like some of the I Spy books. Add more text gradually. Is this sneaky? Yes! Does it work? Absolutely!

Find more great non-fiction books at the ACPL Mock Sibert blog. 


  1. This sounds like such a great story. I love books like this. Have you seen Something Special? It has a similar theme. Ribbit!

    Recent blog post: Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup - 18 May

  2. Corey Schwartz19 May, 2009

    Oh, great word! I love it. May replace my exisiting favorite which is currently kerfuffle :)

    Recent blog post: Waiting

  3. Mary Ann Scheuer19 May, 2009

    What a great review - I love the idea of a puzzle book where you're searching for information about the animals. If you think of more books like this, please share! thank you!!

    Recent blog post: Good Question - How do babies get inside their mommies?

  4. bookchook19 May, 2009

    I didn't know you were a puzzle book fan too, Terry. I don't know Something Special but I'd like to. We chickens enjoy books about frogs.

    Recent blog post: Review, Pobblebonks

  5. bookchook19 May, 2009

    Kerfuffle? Hmm, wonder where you got that one from? Did you see Mo had two books in Betsy's Top Ten?

    Recent blog post: Review, Pobblebonks

  6. bookchook19 May, 2009

    I surely will Mary Ann. I have a post coming soon on creating your own puzzle books.

    Recent blog post: Review, Pobblebonks

  7. Rebecca Newman20 May, 2009

    'Pobblebonk' is a word that would make a good tongue-twister! I'll have to get my hands on this one - my son loves frogs, and it's bound to spark interest in finding a western banjo frog next time we're down south ...

    Recent blog post: 24 May: Kids Day Out

  8. bookchook20 May, 2009

    I hope you get to see them, and hear them, too, Rebecca. Be sure to let me know if they really do make that sound.

    Recent blog post: Review, Pobblebonks

  9. I have a copy of this book and LOVE reading to my class..... The pictures are amazing and is a great puzzle book for chn to try and work out what the animal is....


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