Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Children's Fiction Parents


by (author) Matt James

Holiday House
Initial publish date
May 2023
Parents, Seasons, Environment
Recommended Age
4 to 8
Recommended Grade
p to 3
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


One rainy morning, a father and son bond over a walk through a field full of freshly formed ponds teeming with tadpoles.

In this tender reflection on the fleeting rhythms of the natural world and the enduring love of family, a boy and his father spend a morning exploring an ephemeral pond, a delicate nursery formed by rainfall, perfect for sheltering tadpoles from predators as they grow. The boy’s father doesn’t live with him anymore, and the ponds may only be temporary, but together they make memories that just might last a lifetime.

With Tadpoles, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winning author and illustrator Matt James draws from his own memories as a parent and as a child to tell a wistful story that will be instantly recognizable to any families sharing memories of exploring together. For an extra treat, additional material at the back of the book enthusiastically outlines the habitats and life cycles that make up these special amphibian spaces.

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

About the author

Contributor Notes

Matt James has won many prestigious awards, including the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, the New Mexico Book Award, and the Governor General's Award for Illustration. He illustrated When the Moon Comes by Paul Harbridge and The Stone Thrower by Jael Ealey Richardson. His author-illustrator debut, The Funeral, was named a New York Times and New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book. As a child, Matt liked to trace comics and pretend that tennis racquets were guitars —now he lives in Toronto and behaves more like a grown up.

Editorial Reviews

"Vivid, water-spotted illustrations. . . ."— The New York Times

★ "An enticingly rich and thoughtful creation. . . . Tadpoles is a reassuring reminder that change can bring positive new developments and that parental love remains constant, even amid great upheaval."BookPage, Starred Review

★ "[A] thoughtful stream-of-consciousness outing from James. . . . Multimedia art’s spattered, stroked textures convey the feel of pages left out in a storm in James’s portrait of transition, throughout which the setting and its fluctuating features prove quiet symbols of seasonal and personal transformation. . . ."Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"James’s mixed-media illustrations in gouache, acrylics, and collage show both the factual and emotional parts of the text."—The Horn Book

"A tale of father-child bonding full of visual appeal. . . ."Kirkus Reviews

"Fun to read either alone or aloud. . . ."—Booklist

Other titles by

Related lists