Frog and Toad, characters that were staples of many children's introductions to literature, had a relationship that on the surface might seem like an inseparable friendship, but may have been something much deeper. In an interview published Tuesday in the New Yorker, Adrianne Lobel, the daughter of the creator of Frog and Toad Arnold Lobel, suggested the two characters symbolized her father's journey coming out as gay.
As Lobel, who has since adapted her father's work for the stage, said in the interview, Frog and Toad are "of the same sex, and they love each other." Arnold Lobel came out to his family as gay four years after the first Frog and Toad book in the popular series.
In Lobel's stories, Frog and Toad would perform niceties for each other, like raking each other's yards with no expectation of recognition, all the while teaching kids a thing or two about what it's like to hold someone dear — regardless of gender. "It was quite ahead of its time in that respect," Adrianne Lobel told the New Yorker.
Arnold Lobel died from an AIDS-related illness in 1987, according to the New Yorker. "He was only 54," Lobel said. "Think of all the stories we missed."
"I began writing for children because I couldn't do anything else," Arnold Lobel said in a 1977 interview with the children's book journal The Lion and the Unicorn. "You know, if an adult has an unhappy love affair, he writes about it. He exorcises it out of himself, perhaps, by writing a novel about it. Well, if I have an unhappy love affair, I have to somehow use all that pain and suffering but turn it into a work for children."