When down-at-heel French aristocrat the Duke de Buffo Buffo treads on a nail while dashing downstairs clutching a newly-discovered treasure map, he is forced to call on the services of eminent detective Alphonse Le Flic.
Armed with the map and disguised as a French onion seller, Alphonse heads off across the Channel in his submarine, his destination a rambling cliff-top monastery. Having landed in England, his erratic cycling attracts the attention of the Frog Band, who give chase.
The Frog Band stories follow the adventures of a joyously eccentric cast of animal characters. The inventiveness of the storytelling is surpassed only by the richness of the illustrations: highly distinctive watercolours bursting with humour and nostalgic detail, painted by the self-taught and hugely gifted Jim Smith. The stories are made more memorable still for their loving depiction of recognisable places and landmarks, most notably Jim’s home town, Salisbury, and nearby Stonehenge, recalled from Jim’s childhood in the 1920s and 1930s.
Jim Smith was born in 1920. He left school at the age of 14, worked as a delivery boy and cinema projectionist, before joining the RAF as a radar-technician. He survived three years as a Japanese POW (partly through his skills as an artist, by doing pictures for his guards); returned home and married Mary (who he’d known for just three days prior to the war, and with whom he was later to have three children); opened ‘The Little Junk Shop’ in Salisbury with Mary, and wrote and illustrated a series of children’s books. Jim died in 1990. The Frog Band Books arose from Jim’s love of, and talent for, storytelling and illustration; from his sparkling and mischievous imagination, and from his love of children.
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One of the best children’s picture books of 2011.
Toby Clements,The Telegraph
‘This story is about Alphonse, the big fat frog… I like about this book [sic] when Alphonse gets kicked out of the window and when he lands in the sea because these bits are really funny.’
SuperEva, The Guardian
‘I’m so happy to have found these books. They are among my son’s happiest childhood memories. … now we can share them with my 3 grandsons. We can’t wait.’
J.Martori, Phoenix, USA
‘I love these books … they are brilliant works that deserve recognition.’
‘The Frog Band Stories were tales [Jim] used to tell to his children as they were growing up and he wrote and illustrated all the books beautifully himself. … They are a real treasure!’
Paperback with flaps | 32 pages | 286 x 208 mm | 2nd revised edn 2011