Book Design: The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs

Proof that a job in children’s book publishing gives you lots of random bits of information to wow your friends with: did you know that certain frogs were used for pregnancy tests in parts of 1930’s Africa? They were! Not Panamanian golden frogs though, they’re in Panama…for now. When reading this manuscript, I really wanted the book to have a happy ending. Not telling if it does or not.

The design goal for this book was to have an accessible kid-friendly scientific tropical feel throughout—not a silly ugly gaudy tropical print touristy shirt feel. By using minimal colors, minimal leaf shapes, and the addition of black to set off the colors, my goal was accomplished.


After working on the design for this single title, we (or, Millbrook Editorial Director Extraordinaire Carol Hinz) acquired another book to fit within the “vanishing” construct of this book. So a single title turned into a one-book-a-season small series. We ended up publishing three “vanishing” books, the other two are about honeybees and little brown bats. The design was easily enough to work with in the next two books— honeybees got a hive motif instead of tropical leaves, and the little brown bats used stalagmites and stalactites. The Golden Frogs book still remains my favorite layout of the three!



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