Oh, oh, Fweddy the Fwog is in trouble – a veritable Fwench flap.
What began as a matter of giggling and downright laughter over a playful exchange of letters in a school library has become a charming story about bullying.
Fweddy the Wed Fwog Pwince is School District #83 teacher-on-call Wilf Pauls’ third delightful book.
It is one born of a day at school when the then-teacher librarian and his students took on the challenge of finding all the words they could create by substituting the letter R for W.
“It was a self-inflicted contest,” he laughs. “Out of that emerged this idea of making a story where someone can’t say the letter R, and what’s the result of that?”
From that basic idea, the comical Pauls thought about how children who cannot speak properly are often the butt of jokes and bullying. Then the word fwog emerged and in choosing Fweddy, Pauls says he is making fun of himself by using the short form of his birth name, Wilfred.
“Then I thought I’d throw a prince in there, and out of that comes the notion of one of Aesop’s Fables,” says Pauls, explaining the meandering way in which the story came together.
Fweddy the Fwog is teased mercilessly by the other frogs because he is small, red and unable to say R. Discouraged by their unkindness, Fweddy moves to a safe place at the far end of the pond, where he makes friends and earns respect.
“In bullying, the first thing is walk away, the second one is ignore,” says Pauls, of Fweddy’s choice to move away from his tormenters. “Most of all, he was happy with who he had become.”
In the fable, The Frogs Desiring a King, the frogs ask their god for a king to rule over them and, after teasing them by throwing a log into the pond, acquiesces to the frogs’ demands by giving them a stork.
Unfortunately for the frogs, the king stork eats them all.
In Fweddy the Wed Fwog Pwince, a stork who cannot say S becomes king and, well, he too savours a frog or two, turning the once lively pond into a place of fear.
But unlike the Aesop’s story, things change dramatically when the king, or perhaps a queen, meets Fweddy.
Pauls began working with School District #83 as a teacher-librarian in 1992. He has encouraged thousands of children to develop a love of learning through stories, magic, science experiments, music, trivia and real-life experiences.
Fweddy the Wed Fwog Pwince is a departure from Pauls’ first two stories in the Baby Brawn Series – Baby Brawn Basketball Star and Baby Brawn Hockey Superstar, which was launched two years ago.
The Fwog Pwince is delightfully illustrated by Myron Born, who has 20 years of experience drawing for television and film – Disney and Warner Bros. included. Illustrating Fweddy the Wed Fwog Prince fulfills one of his dreams and is his entry into the world of children’s books in print.
Barbara Coloroso, who runs the “Kids are worth it” program read Pauls’ story, contributed her ideas and is now putting the book on her recommended booklist for an anti-bullying campaign.
Fweddy the Wed Fwog Pwince will make his official Salmon Arm debut from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20 at Bastion Elementary.
Celebrate a ‘ribbiting’ story of bullies, friendship, humour, forgiveness and a warm, surprise ending. Pauls will give a short talk on his new book at 7 p.m.