POKKO AND THE DRUM by Matthew Forsythe

Hello everyone! Today I’m really excited to share POKKO AND THE DRUM, by Matthew Forsythe. I’m a huge fan of Matthew Forsythe’s work, with some of my favorites like MY NAME IS ELIZABETH and THE GOLD LEAF. This book is something special. It has that classic feel of containing all the right ingredients that a great children’s book should have. It’s just the right balance of interesting and hilarious and that’s what I’d like to focus on for this post.

Right off the bat, it’s a beautiful cover (and my photos do NOT do Matthew’s artwork justice). But it’s also a really interesting title. Pokko isn’t your “Fred the Frog” type of name that we may normally see. It’s unique and intriguing in it’s own way. We just have to know what the deal is with this particular frog and it’s drum.

We instantly know that Pokko’s parents made a mistake giving her a drum, and it was their biggest mistake. We also definitely want to know what those other mistakes were.

And Forsythe doesn’t disappoint.

And these “mistakes” are spot on the while not being over the top. None of them are that ridiculous (I mean the Llama is a bit strange), but they’re actually quite normal gifts that are only “mistakes” because of how Forsythe reveals them.

Then we’re done with the flashbacks – which really just serve as a nice setup to the story of this frog and why giving her this drum was such a big mistake.

The interaction between Pokko’s parents here is exactly what every parent has ever said about drums. But that’s not where Forsythe leaves this joke.

And then if the followup joke wasn’t funny enough, this image is just perfect with Pokko marching around the far side of a very interesting bed scene. While Forsythe is allowed to be hilarious with his writing, the expressions and artwork he creates seem to contain it a bit from once again going too over the top. Again, it seems so perfectly balanced for this book.

The amazing part, is that at this point in the story, we’re just getting started, and so Forsythe settles us back down as Pokko’s tale carries on.

The idea that Pokko agrees, and sets out as quietly as she could, instantly makes me curious about whether or not the quiet will last – or more accurately, how long it will last.

Forsythe really unleashes his artwork on these next few pages, and Pokko’s adventure is about to once again start ramping up. I’d love to share more, but I don’t want to spoil it! Believe me, it’s such a wonderful story that you can’t help but be surprised, or laugh, at what happens every time you turn the page.

My takeaway in my own work from this book is definitely a reflection on balance. I love funny books, but is my humor taking over from the story? Or could certain jokes be input into sections so as to break up something that otherwise might be a bit boring?

LAST MONTH’S GIVEAWAY WINNER for THUNDER TRUCKS!!! Recently we’ve had some difficulty with plugins here on the PBB blog, so I’ve had to use Random number selector at Random.org. and then count the comments to find that winner. That is why I didn’t reply to your lovely comments last month, as I didn’t want to muddle the selection process at all!
The winner is:

Congratulations, Debra! You were comment number 10! I’ll be reaching out shortly to arrange to send you a signed copy of THUNDER TRUCKS!

So thank you to everyone who commented on last month’s post and entered to win.

Take care!

Mike Boldt

Mike Boldt is an author and illustrator from Alberta, Canada. With more than 18 books in the wild, he's authored titles such as A TIGER TAIL and ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT FLUFFY (Simon and Schuster). He's also the illustrator of Dev Petty's I DON'T WANT TO BE A FROG & I DON'T WANT TO BE BIG & THERE'S NOTHING TO DO (Doubleday). You can learn more about Mike at www.mikeboldt.ca


  1. This book sounds really fun! Thanks for introducing me to Matthew Forsythe’s amazing art and storytelling. I’m looking forward to reading all of his books.

  2. Oh, this looks irresistible, Mike!

  3. Wow, beautiful artwork! And funny to boot. Looking forward to reading POKKO AND THE DRUM. Thanks, Mike!

  4. Debra Kempf Shumaker

    First, this book looks GORGEOUS! And gorgeous and funny sound like a combination that I would love to read. Can’t wait to check it out!

    And yay, I won a free book! Thanks Mike!

  5. Drum roll please…this book looks like a winner! I love the name, the idea, the minimal text and the illustrations. I can’t wait to read this book!

  6. Just put this on my list. Thanks. This is why I love PBB website.

  7. Lovely art. And sounds like a clever story.

  8. A brilliant study in page turns – not to mention the art!

  9. That technique with the pastels is really interesting, and the colors are beautiful! This book is intriguing!

  10. Sounds like an awesome book!

  11. I really want to know what happens to Pokko and his drum. I love funny books and this one is beautiful too.

  12. Hooray for winning a book, Deb!!

    Love the art for this book–it’s beautiful!

  13. This is my kind of picture book…fun and funny!

  14. The artwork is a WOW! If the rest of the book lives up to the beginning, it should be a bouble WOW!

  15. I’m in love! Just stunning and so intriguing. I need to check it out.

  16. This looks like a delightful book, both the text and illustrations! I have to find out if Pokko does something amazing with her drum!

  17. Wow! What a beautiful book and good story tellling!

  18. Pokko is beating that drum so enthusiastically with her arms positioned! That definitely stands out.

  19. I like the line – “They had made mistakes before.” And I love the layering in Forsythe’s artwork.

  20. What a wonderful book. Thank you for introducing it to us!

  21. This looks hilarious. I love the sling shot spread! And it’s a story that rings true, for sure. We got our son a drum set when he was young . . . then passed it along to some friends with two young boys as soon as his interest began to wane.

  22. What a fun book. I love the art.

  23. I LOVE this book! I think it’s going to be very funny and I can’t wait to read it. I’m very curious to know how it ends. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Janet Frenck Sheets

    What a perfect opening — and Pokko is so appealing. I can’t wait to read this.

  25. It looks hilarious. I must check it out…thanks for introducing me to a new author/illustrator.

  26. I already had this one on my to-read list, but now I’m even more intrigued. Thanks for sharing, Mike.

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