Thomas Marent and Tom Jackson
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Buy *Frog: A Photographic Portrait* by Thomas Marent and Tom Jackson online

Frog: A Photographic Portrait
Thomas Marent and Tom Jackson
DK Adult
280 pages
September 2008
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Frog: A Photographic Portrait, by highly respected nature photographer Thomas Marent with contributions from Tom Jackson, entices readers with over 400 photos of 200 frog species, along with a section on salamanders (cousins to frogs). His fascinating photographs kept our family absorbed for hours. Marent is also the author of Butterfly and Rainforest; all three are award-winning, acclaimed photography books featuring close-up images that reveal intimate details of wildlife. Marent attributes his love of recording nature’s beauty to his childhood experiences in the mountain wetlands around his childhood home in Switzerland.

A frog’s life begins underwater, but as they grow they completely change body structure and begin breathing air through their skin and nose. Thomas takes readers through all of these changes and teases us with fascinating facts, such as that frogs smell with their eyes, and their tongues are attached to the front of their mouth.

Magnificent Tree frogs and Helmeted frogs are surprisingly huge, a lot larger than I expected. Our family loved the image of the tiny tree frog sitting in the bracket fungus toadstool (Peru; page 20). The Blue Legged Strawberry frogs and monkey frogs will have kids enthralled for hours. The poison frog varieties have got to be the most incredibly colored species of them all: bright orange toes and swollen toe tips capture your gaze when seen up close; gorgeous, brilliant eye colors and shapes vary with the frog species from a glowing jewel to coal black; egg nests appear as precious gems, glittering in a small pile.

Just as varied is how different species treat their young. Some pack them around, on, or in their bodies. Some tend to their young, ensuring that they are fed or protected, while others leave their young to survive on their own. Some frogs thrive in earth, some on it, and others in trees – the Flying frogs glide from tree to tree like flying squirrels. From less than 3/4-inch in size to more than 9 pounds and 12 inches long, the diversity that Marent delivers is amazing.

Stories of Marent's experiences taking photographs in downpours, crawling in mud for hours, and getting lost in rainforests are strategically placed throughout the book. The reader is taken on an educational journey through the life of a frog, gains brief introductions to some of the more than 6,000 frog species on the planet, and sees fun photos of frogs gripping sticks and humorous mating or hunting rituals, such as putting a rear leg on their back and wiggling their toes enticingly. Just thinking about that makes me smile.

This oversized hardcover's protective slipcover depicts the photographic skill that readers will find inside. Each photo takes up a full page, often two, and is surrounded by a glossy black background that really makes the image stand out. Unfortunately, every little touch of a finger leaves a mark on the black background, similar to how a finger leaves a smudge on a glossy photograph.

The construction of the book is slightly unusual; several photos precede the information about the book, table of contents, and so on. Nine different publishing, art, and managing editors played a role in this book, including contributor Tom Jackson.

The author includes a detailed breakdown of the amphibian species, dividing them into sub-groups and defining their differences for the reader. For each, he lists the family name, common name, region where they can be found, how many types of frogs in each family, and a brief description. An extensive index is provided for readers to refer to.

Published in the US by DK publishing in New York, the book was actually printed and bound in China – which means a larger carbon footprint due to the fossil fuels spent in transportation alone. Somewhat ironic is the author's claim that the book is to raise awareness about the plight of amphibians, the fact that they are the “canary in the coalmine” for earthlings and should be taken seriously, especially when it comes to the environment - yet I could find no information about environmental publishing steps taken during production (i.e. carbon offsets, certified sustainable forest products, recycled content, veggie inks, etc.) Otherwise, I love this book.

[Editor's note: A DK Publishing representative sent the following information on their imprint and parent company's green initiatives - click here to learn more about their efforts to publish eco-friendly books.]

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Lillian Brummet, 2009

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