Picture Book Art: Meet the Illustrator Ben Mantle

Frog Vs Toad is the brilliant new picture book from Ben Mantle. It’s full of wonderful energy and so much humour – an absolute delight to read.

Frog and toad accidently catch the SAME fly, with their respective tongues. When the fly accidentally calls them both frogs… well the bickering starts. The brilliant, fast-paced dialogue between these two is absolutely hilarious. It’s not long before ALL the frogs and toads become embroiled in the frog vs toad scenario.

LOVE the double page spread depicting the flies, amused by the antics, munching on popcorn as it all unfolds in front of them.

Like all great picture books, this has a wonderful giggle inducing twist at the end – you’ll need to read it, to discover it.

Frog Vs Toad is a mad-cap, energy-filled, smile-inducing picture book. Guaranteed to make you giggle. and


Ben Mantle has popped into MyBookCorner for a glorious delve into how he created Frog Vs Toad…

Ben Mantle: Frog vs Toad started off as a much more silly idea. Initially, with a question. Who would win between a Frog and a Toad? Whenever a story idea pops into my head I have to draw an image for it pretty soon, just to log it in my brain and also to help me think it through. So, this is the first drawing I did for the book with a watercolour brush pen and some ink and digitally coloured later on.

At this point I wasn’t using reference and I wasn’t thinking too much about character design and they ended up looking pretty similar. The news at the time of writing seemed to be full of political leaders talking about what divided us as humans and that is where the idea of seeing past differences and celebrating similarities began to take shape.

I started researching Frogs and Toads in more depth and started re-designing. Talking to the team at Walker books, it was decided to use the character designs to accentuate the differences, so that they could be played on in the story and add more humour. I’ve worked with pastel quite a bit over the last few years and I really enjoy the texture it gives you as well as the mistakes that come with traditional mediums. To create the images I use a range of greyscale soft pastels which are scanned in and coloured digitally. As you can see, they started off looking pretty grumpy. (image 2)

This was reflected in the story, which at this point was a bit darker in tone and a whole lot grumpier. We decided to make Frog and Toad look a bit younger. It’s important that the children could see themselves in the characters, so I began refining their designs – rounding off edges and softening their appearance which would also carry into the change of tone of the book and make it a more playful story.

The final designs in the book ended up being a bit of a hybrid, with some of toad’s gnarlier edges back and he was also scaled up a little to give more contrast.

The setting of the book also changed a bit, adding pops of colour to help break up the greens and adding in more lighting to create mood and variety.

And then I got to design a whole load of colourful frogs and toads to join my two squabbling main characters. I think it’s fair to say I have one of the best jobs in the world!


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