Frog came running up the path.
“What is all this noise?” he asked.
“My seeds will not grow,” said Toad.
“You are shouting too much,” said Frog. “These poor seeds are afraid to grow.”

“These poor seeds are afraid to grow.” Wait… seeds can be afraid to grow? I didn’t know that. I wonder if that is my problem. Are you talking to me too, Frog? Can stories be afraid to grow, too?

Maybe I am shouting too much: Now ideas, start GROWING—what will the critique buddies think? what will mr. agent, ms. editor think? what will bookstores, kirkus, random readers on goodreads think? what if I never, never have a good idea again? OMG! that really could happen! please, please, ideas—GROW, GROW, GROW!

Help—TOAD—I can’t stop the shouting! Where are you? What would YOU do?

Toad read a long story to his seeds.
All the next day Toad sang songs to his seeds.
And all the next day Toad read poems to his seeds.
And all the next day Toad played music for his seeds.
Then Toad felt very tired, and he fell asleep.

Oh! These all sound like easy things to do… thank you Toad, I will do them! I will read stories and poems and play music. And then maybe I will also look at art, and walk in the woods and stop on the footbridge to play Poohsticks. And then plant things, bake things, make things… make anything but books.

And then finally, I will lie on the couch and stare out the window, until… until there is no more shouting and it is quiet… except for some birds (what’s the gossip today, guys?), and a couple of squirrels (hey, what is the problem out there? stop bickering!), and my cat, Milo, snoring.

I will try all of these things because I have read, and read over many times again, FROG AND TOAD TOGETHER by Arnold Lobel, so I know that in “The Garden”—spoiler alert!!!—once Toad stops shouting, his seeds really do grow in the end. Hopefully, if I’m quiet and patient too, my ideas will stop being afraid to sprout, and if I have a good one—hooray!!—I will jot or sketch it down right away. And then, at last, I can reward myself by taking a lesson from the next chapter of Frog and Toad: “Cookies”.

Toad baked some cookies.
“These cookies smell very good,” said Toad.
He ate one.
“And they taste even better…”

Hey, did you have an idea today? Well then, have a cookie! And by the way, what do you do, to coax your ideas to grow?

Once-upon-a-time, Deborah Freedman was an architect, but now she prefers to build worlds in books. She is the author and illustrator of SCRIBBLE and BLUE CHICKEN, and THE STORY OF FISH AND SNAIL, to be published in June 2013, by Viking. Follow her adventures at Writes With Pictures or on Facebook and Twitter @DeborahFreedman.

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