The Frog and Toad stories of Arnold Lobel: A psychoanalytic perspective

Sexsmith, Ann (2017) The Frog and Toad stories of Arnold Lobel: A psychoanalytic perspective. Infant Observation: International Journal of Infant Observation and Its Applications, 20 (2-3). ISSN 1369-8036 (Print), 1745-8943 (Online)

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Arnold Lobel (1933–1987) was an American author and illustrator of picture books for children. Unlike his contemporary, Maurice Sendak, Lobel spoke little about his own work. Perhaps for this reason and perhaps because of the muted nature of Lobel’s style, his books have not received wider critical attention, particularly from those looking at the intersection of psychoanalysis and children’s literature. But Lobel’s later work, most notably his series of four books about Frog and Toad, warrant closer examination. Lobel was always clear that the best children’s books ‘strike deep’ and that ‘underneath there is something much more’. While never losing their playful quality, the Frog and Toad stories engage both child and adult readers at a more profound level. This deeper level of engagement owes much to the psychoanalytic ideas that are embodied throughout. Reference primarily to D.W. Winnicott will be made and the relationship between children’s literature, in particular the picture book, and psychoanalysis will be considered. After exploring Lobel’s background, influences and style, attention will be given to the many and varied roles that Frog and Toad may represent. A close reading of three stories will be used to illustrate the psychoanalytic ideas that may lie ‘underneath’.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published online: 20 Mar 2018
Uncontrolled Keywords: Psychoanalysis, D.W. Winnicott, Children’s Stories, Playfulness, Imagination, Arnold Lobel, Frog and Toad
Subjects: Cognitive Processes, Theory of Mind > Creativity
Psychological Therapies, Psychiatry, Counselling > Psychoanalysis
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services

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