Pinkletink the Froggie

From the MV Times

“Kanta Lipsky, who lives on the Vineyard, says she is a big fan of the tree frog commonly referred to as spring peepers, but affectionately called pinkletinks on the Island. Her second children’s book is titled “Pinkletink the Froggie.” Her delightful story and lovely illustrations make you fall in love with the little creatures, too, if you weren’t already.

On the very first page, we meet Pinkletink, who lives on the edge of a pond by an old mill. Though small and tucked in the lower right-hand corner amid a warm orange and pink sunset landscape, his bright green color immediately draws our eyes to his cute countenance. It’s easy to spot him throughout the story, whether orchestrating a tree full of other peeping froggies or watching, startled at the unusual ruckus he hears when a group of his friends gather around a stranger.

In a single page, Lipsky sets the story in motion: “It was a strange-looking frog! This newcomer had red eyes and brightly colored toes, and was now surrounded by all the local pond frogs. “This Red Toe doesn’t belong here! He looks different! He should leave!” they cried. Red Toe clung to a twig, afraid of all the shouting and loud voices.”

Your heart immediately aches for the terrified Red Toe, who turns out to be named Ranita. Clearly, she is out of place, and we later discover she is a princess who came from “the land of shimmering waterfalls, warm breezes, and tall palm trees.” But we only learn this after Ranita saves Pinkletink from the hungry hawk by flashing and bulging out her bright red eyes, scaring away the zooming bird as its talons swoop down toward our crouching Pinkletink.

Lipsky continues to carry the message with just the right tone in the last two pages, which start with Ranita saying, “Because of my differences, I can offer you my strength, helping to make you safer from hungry animals, as I can scare them with my bright eyes!” The froggies welcome her: “Thank you so much! How great you can do that! You’re amazing!” And you can’t help but smile when, in the final image of Ranita taking a flying leap over Pinkletink, Lipsky ends, “And she and Pinkletink were the best of friends.”

In an interview, Lipsky explained the origins of the book: “Last winter, I had begun working on the illustrations for a true story about a duck that my childhood friend Ellen was writing. At a certain point, she felt the story wasn’t ready yet, and pulled out of our collaboration.” Lipsky decided to go ahead and write a story herself, with her little grandson in mind as her first audience. Looking at the sketches from the duck story, Lipsky found a silly-looking frog that made her smile. She says, “I love the spring peepers, and eagerly await their return, slowing down to listen carefully as I drive past the ponds and wetlands where they can be heard. Just like the first snowdrop in the spring that gets reported in the paper, the pinkletink alert is something my friends and fellow frog lovers vie to be the first with.”

When researching frogs, Lipsky soon came upon the red-eyed tree frog from Central America, and in figuring out how to get her to the Vineyard, the idea of making her a froggie immigrant fit perfectly.

The next step was illustrating the story, which takes quite a bit of time. She explains, “First you have to find what your characters look like, and how their faces change with the story. The background was fun, and I went over to the Mill Pond in West Tisbury to get some ideas. The cover of the book is drawn from a photo of the Old Mill I took when I was walking over there one day.”

Ultimately, set on the Island, “Pinkletink the Froggie” is a story about diversity and inclusivity. “As a society, I believe that diversity makes us stronger, and I wanted the frogs in the story to have that realization,” Lipsky says. “What a better world we would have if we all welcomed people who were not just like us into our communities.”

“Pinkletink the Froggie,” written and Illustrated by Kanta Lipsky, is available in soft or hard cover at Tending Joy, Bunch of Grapes, Cronig’s, Edgartown Books, and Alley’s.”

To purchase your copy today – email me at kantalipsky@gmail.com

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