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The Story of the Dancing Frog
Quentin Blake Artist
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In… when was it? 1986, I started to retire from the RCA over two years, I just diminished my time, faded out, and from there… and I think that gave me a bit more energy to do… to put in to these books of my own. And some of them are entertainments, as it were, I mean strictly Mrs Armitage on Wheels, I mean they're, sort of, accumulative things, which then collapse at the end. Some of them have got a bit more substance in them, in a way, and I think they're books that are available to a slightly wider… they're not necessarily for the smallest readers, and I think the first one that I did like that was called The Story of the Dancing Frog, which is about a mother telling a story to her child, and it's about one of their relations of former times who discovers a frog that can dance, and how they take it on the stage, and what happens. In a sense it doesn't have an end, because they, you see them eventually retire to the south of France, the now elderly lady and the elderly frog, I suppose. And it's… it's the things that happen on the stage are funny. It's funny to see, we hope, to see a frog dancing, but there is a sort of framing device of the parent telling the child the story, which is in sepia, so you know that it’s a different time and a different situation, that's the real bit, rather than the fantasy bit. And it's partly about stories, and it's partly about what… well, I suppose it's about what you do in a difficult situation, if you're bereaved, or something like that, how do you cope with that? And in a sense, the implication is, well, one way you do something about it is by telling stories, and it's about what stories are about. Not everybody got that idea, and I remember there was one review that said it would have been better without this person telling the story. But in fact it… that was the purpose of it, in a way, and why it's called The Story of the Dancing Frog, and not The Dancing Frog. And that seemed to have… a bit more, sort of, substance in it, in a way.

Quentin Blake, well loved British writer and illustrator, is perhaps best known for bringing Roald Dahl's characters to life with his vibrant illustrations, and for becoming the first ever UK Children's Laureate. He has also written and illustrated his own books including Mr Magnolia which won the Kate Greenaway Medal.

Listeners: Ghislaine Kenyon

Ghislaine Kenyon is a freelance arts education consultant. She previously worked in gallery education including as Head of Learning at the Joint Education Department at Somerset House and Deputy Head of Education at the National Gallery’s Education Department. As well as directing the programme for schools there, she curated exhibitions such as the highly successful Tell Me a Picture with Quentin Blake, with whom she also co-curated an exhibition at the Petit Palais in Paris in 2005. At the National Gallery she was responsible for many initiatives such as Take Art, a programme working with 14 London hospitals, and the national Take One Picture scheme with primary schools. She has also put on several series of exhibition-related concerts. Ghislaine writes, broadcasts and lectures on the arts, arts education and the movement for arts in health. She is also a Board Member of the Museum of Illustration, the Handel House Museum and the Britten-Pears Foundation.

Tags: 1986, the Royal College of Art, Mrs Armitage on Wheels, The Story of the Dancing Frog, France

Duration: 2 minutes, 44 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008