Reading Pile: A Frog In The Fall (and later on)
It's projects like this that make me really love Kickstarters. I supported this at the end of 2021 (along with the Stages of Rot reprint) so it hit that mark where you kinda forget you have something on the way and it ends up being a pleasant not-really-surprise-but-sorta-surprise. Plus, opening up this gorgeous landscape format book with its open spine binding and full color rotated slipcase (for easy book shelf display, so it's literally the best of both worlds for book nerds) felt like an early Christmas.
Like seriously, it's really pretty.
The story is an exceedingly charming slice-of-fairytale-life that follows a freshly hatched frog as he encounters two vagabond toads heading to the south during the winter. Deciding he wants to follow them, the tale follows a meandering path as they encounter mice, tree spirits, turtles, cats, and more.
Sterte's masterful sense of pacing and elegant line art give you a great sense of less-is-more throughout the book, her use of negative space and full page landscape designs enhancing both the fairytale charm of the story and the sense of scope of the minor frog's adventure. Combined with an overall sense of design which finds a perfect balance between naturalistic and fantastic, Sterte infuses the tale with a very rich sense of worldbuilding. The animals of this world occupy a sort of timeless realm that feels older through its fashion and modesty, which is then subtly placed against more modern backdrop of a human world that only bleeds into the edges of the story.
The characters have their own interesting balance of being fairly simplistic (in a standard fairytale sort of way) while being effortlessly realized and memorable through Sterte's clean and expressive design work. The two vagabond toads are dubious, lazy, and self-centered, but they're also very charming in a way that draws you into their portion of the story. Other characters such as the various tree spirits have relatively small sections of the story, but they are all handled in an engaging manner that weaves them into the tapestry of the fable with a charming ease.
I can't really recommend this book enough. As a story it's an easy going modern fable that readers of any age would enjoy, and as a piece of art it's a joy to look at. Toss on top of that the thoughtful production elements of the printing and you have a complete package that's well worth the $35 price tag.
You can purchase copies from the publisher here.
More previews of the book can be found here.