The Frog princess
by E.D. Baker
This debut novel follows the adventures of 14-year-old Princess Emeralda and the talking frog she meets one day in a swamp. The frog begs her to give him a kiss so that he will turn back into Prince Eadric, his identity before an evil witch turned him into an amphibian. When the young royal obliges, she, too, is transformed into a frog, and the two leap off in search of the spell-casting witch to ask her to reverse her handiwork. Describing the duo's futile quest in laborious detail, the author pads her tale with some curiously drab characters, including another witch (who hopes to use Emeralda and Eadric in a spell she's concocting) and a bat and snake who reside in her cottage. The tale occasionally offers peppy dialogue and some comical scenes-particularly as the newly transformed Emeralda adjusts to catching flies with her tongue ("My eye-tongue coordination wasn't very good," she admits). Unfortunately, the plot doesn't make much of the magical elements (for example, the characters' encounters with a dragon and a nymph seem inconsequential), resulting in a disappointingly flat fantasy. Ages 8-14.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-An amusing fairy-tale adventure that takes the frog-turned-prince story a little further. Princess Emeralda is incredibly clumsy, she brays like a donkey when she laughs, and she would rather spend time outdoors or learning magic from her witch-aunt Grassina than marry self-centered Prince Jorge. When she runs off to the nearby swamp, she meets "Frog" who, naturally, claims to be an enchanted prince and begs her for a spell-breaking kiss. But when she finally complies, something goes terribly wrong, and suddenly Emma is a green-skinned, pond-hopping frog. She and Eadric spend the rest of the book trying to undo the spells that have bewitched them, struggling to avoid a dragon, a frog-eating dog, and an inept angry witch along the way. When they are finally released from their enchantments, it's clear they will live a happy-if rather unconventional-life together. Baker's characters, especially Emma and Eadric, are more than meets the eye. The tale moves at a good pace, and, though the happy ending is predictable, the trials and tribulations that precede it are interesting. However, it's difficult to determine the book's audience. While the story would appeal to primary to intermediate grade girls, the vocabulary is rather sophisticated and seems to be more suited to young adults. Perhaps it would work best as a read-aloud. For fairy-tale themes more in tune with their specific audiences, turn to Donna Jo Napoli's The Prince of the Pond (Dutton, 1992) for intermediates, and her Zel (Puffin, 1998) or Beast (Atheneum, 2000) for the older crowd.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.