Reviews for Pokko and the Drum

by Matthew Forsythe

Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The biggest mistake Pokko's parents ever made was giving her a drum," begins this story about a young frog musician's path to creative fulfillment, benevolent (mostly) leadership, and satisfying self-expression. After that attention-grabbing opening line, the well-paced text builds anticipatory humor by backing up to describe earlier gifts Pokko's parents regretted: a slingshot, a llama, and a balloon, all shown in uncluttered spreads featuring the game but poker-faced Pokko. Then comes the drum: Pokko's face lights up and she reaches toward her instrument, her now-constant companion. She practices inside the house; her parents send her out. She goes to the forest, where her playing attracts a banjo-strumming raccoon, a trumpet-blowing rabbit, and more; soon she's trailed by a parade of like-minded, music-making creatures (minus the rabbit, who gets eaten by a wolf: "No more eating band members or you're out of the band," deadpans Pokko). There are lots of visual nods and references in Forsythe's textured, painterly watercolor, gouache, and colored-pencil illustrations--Rousseau, Sendak, Lobel, Ungerer, Keats, Klassen--but, like his amphibian protagonist, this idiosyncratic author/illustrator/animator (The Brilliant Deep, rev. 7/18; Warning: Do Not Open This Book!; the Adventure Time television series) marches to his own beat. (c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Pokko's parents give her a drumbiggest mistake everand she makes a thoroughgoing racket.Her father suggests taking her drum outside. "But don't make too much noise. We're just a little frog family that lives in a mushroom, and we don't like drawing attention to ourselves." Pokko sets off quietly into the too-quiet forest. She taps her drum "just to keep herself company." When a banjo-playing raccoon follows her, she plays louder. A trumpet-playing rabbit's next, then a wolf, ostensibly there for the music. In a plot twist evocative of Jon Klassen, the wolf eats the rabbit, earning Pokko's stern rebuke: "No more eating band members or you're out of the band." Soon, many animalssome making music, others enjoying itare following Pokko. When her father calls her to dinner, he hears faint music, growing louder. The crowds sweep in, carrying off Pokko's parents. (Comically, her mother's still engrossed in the book she's been reading throughout.) Her father thinks he spies Pokko down in front. "And you know what?I think she's pretty good!" Pokko's a self-possessed marvel, brave enough to walk alone, face down a wolf, and lead a band. Forsythe's smudgily glowing paintings alternate Rousseau-esque forest forms with cozy interiors; stripes and harlequin diamonds decorate clothing.Celebrating both community and individuality, this droll, funny offering will tickle kids and adults alike. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.