While there are so many books that fit our current theme, the library here has limited copies. There is no telling which books I’ve searched online would be available in the library catalog. Fortunately, I was able to borrow these two versions of The Frog Prince that I am going to share with you today.
“Kiss a frog with your eyes wide open. If he turns into a prince you won’t miss the transformation, but if he doesn’t, you won’t be fooled by some wishful illusion in your head.”
– Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway
Retold and illustrated by: Alix Berenzy
Published by: Henry Holt and Company
Book borrowed from Sumter library. Book photos taken by me.
When I first saw the cover for Alix Berenzy’s A Frog Prince, I thought it was Prince Charming himself who was sitting on the horse. Imagine my surprise when I saw a frog instead of a man mounted on the horse, with a sad expression on its face. My eyes were deceived by Berenzy’s dark and almost life-like illustration on the cover. If you look closely, you could even visualize a woman’s face leaning on the Frog Prince’s head.
The beginning of A Frog Prince was similar to the original version. A beautiful princess was playing in the Royal Gardens one day when she accidentally dropped her golden ball in the swamp. When the frog saw the princess crying, he swam closer to the edge of the swamp and asked her what was wrong.
“My lovely golden ball has fallen into the swamp!” she wailed. Then an idea came into her head. She squeezed even more tears out of her eyes and said, “If you get it for me, I shall let you be my friend. You will eat dinner with me at the castle, and sleep there too!”
The frog was thrilled, although he would gladly retrieve the golden ball for the princess without a reward. When the frog went to the castle, the princess was disgusted by his presence. She probably would not have come out of her room if it were not for the King reminding her to honor her promise to the frog. The night ended with the princess flinging the frog into a dark corner of her room and telling him how ugly he was. The frog went to sleep heartbroken but was comforted by the words of the Moon in his dream.
Little green Frog alone at night,
Beauty is in the beholder’s sight.
Follow the Sun, then follow me,
To lands beyond, across the sea.
In another kingdom you shall find.
A true princess, of a different mind.
I was delighted when I came across this part in the story. It’s only been a week since we had our last theme on Goddesses, Spirit-Stars, and Celestial Beings, and it was nice to read about the Moon looking after earthly creatures.
The rest of the book narrates the Frog’s journey to find the princess who would love him for who he is. Along the way, he encountered creatures in distress and stopped to help them. In return for the kindness that the Frog Prince has shown them, they decided to help him reach his destination.
The Princess looked upon him with shining eyes. “Your deeds have been noble,” she said. “Is not what we do proof of what we are? With all of my heart, I believe you are a real prince.”
Alix Berenzy creates a beautiful spin to the classic tale, making it more meaningful and socially relevant. His gorgeous illustrations make A Frog Prince traditional and provocatively modern at the same time. It’s a fairy tale retelling that deserves a spot in your bookshelf.
The Prince of the Pond
Written by: Donna Jo Napoli
Illustrated by: Judith Byron Schachner
Published by: Dutton Children’s Books
Book borrowed from Sumter library. Book photos taken by me.
Subtitled Otherwise Known as De Fawg Pin, Donna Jo Napoli’s The Prince of the Pond is a really interesting, really different version of the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale. Unlike the classic story, or Berenzy’s adaptation, The Prince of the Pond is 150 pages long!
“Am I a fawg?” he said louder.
“Are you a fawg? Oh, are you a frog?” I shut my mouth and waited. I’d never heard an adult frog ask such a question before. I mean, sure, tadpoles ask it all the time: Am I a frog yet? Am I a frog yet? But this fellow’s body was almost twice as long as mine. His tadpole days were a distant memory. I spoke carefully. “Yes, you are a frog.” I swallowed. “And a very fine one.”
He hung his head. “I’m a fawg.”
An old hag puts a curse on the prince that turns him into a frog. Unfortunately, this prince-turned-frog does not know how to act like one! The story begins with the prince thinking he’s still a prince even though his new body shows him otherwise. You can’t really blame him, can you?
Luckily, a female frog, which narrates the whole story, is kind – and patient! – enough to help the prince live as a frog. Still trying to get used to his frog tongue, the prince tells the female frog to call him “Pin,” even though what he wants to say is that he is really a prince, not a frog.
Pin looked at me with interest… His skin glistened, even though he hadn’t been in the water for at least an hour. He had learned how to use his mucus glands. He had learned how to take advantage of his flexible joints in leaping, too. And he could sense movement in the water or on the mud with his feet and skin just as well as I could.
I had taught him all of that, slowly, day by day. I’d been astonished at what he didn’t know. Things that came naturally to other frogs Pin had to learn in little steps… It was as though he didn’t even know how his own body worked.
For being a fiction read, Donna Jo Napoli’s version of The Frog Prince is very informative. It is a good material for children to learn about frogs and other pond creatures.
“Didn’t you know that was a toad? Can’t you tell a toad from a frog?”
He shook his head.
“Well you certainly won’t last very long around this pond if you don’t learn fast,” I said. I cleared my throat and spoke in my most commanding voice. “A toad has dry, watery skin.” I looked hard at him. “A frog has wet, smooth skin. Got that?”
“A toad has bean-shaped bumps behind his eyes and sometimes even between his eyes and other places, too. A frog has, at most, lovely folds of skin here or there.”
“A toad likes dark places and is gloomy. A frog enjoys the sun and is a happy sort… Understand?”
I enjoyed reading The Prince of the Pond to a certain extent. I find the story progression rather slow. It felt like searching for the light at the end of a very long tunnel. I read in the book that Donna Jo Napoli spent a lot of time looking at ponds and reading books about pond life, and I do appreciate the vast information I’ve learned from the book as well as Judith Byron Schachner’s beautiful drawings.
Donna Jo Napoli gives a fresh perspective on the story of The Frog Prince. Despite its length, the book shows that life isn’t always about finding your lady-in-waiting or your Prince Charming. For the most part, life is about self-discovery and endless search for knowledge.