It’s a simple story. A princess helps a talking frog by kissing him. He’s promised her he’s a prince under a spell, and a kiss will restore him. But this is Frogged, Vande Velde’s twist on an old story, so it’s not all that simple.
Princess Imogene Eustacia Wellington (she hates her name), at twelve years, eleven months, and two weeks, kisses a frog claiming to be a prince put under a spell by a wicked witch. After Princes Imogene is changed into a frog and the lying boy runs away, she finds the witch, is kidnapped by a traveling theater group, is caged in a bucket and a cauldron, becomes a star attraction (as talking frog AND costumed as a talking crow), before escaping with another girl who has been lied to.
Before the transformation, Princess Imogene’s mother gave her The Art of Being a Princess, and instructed her to read one chapter (plus the foreword) each day—just enough chapters to read before her birthday. Princess Imogene only got as far as the foreword before her adventure, but Vande Velde helpfully names the chapters in Frogged with the chapter titles from the princess handbook. Imogene knows that a princess is as kind as she is beautiful from her reading of the foreword, so it troubles her that whoever kisses her will become a frog. What a dilemma!
Full of Vande Velde’s familiar humor, odd characters, and clever plot twists, Frogged is an enjoyable book for reading alone or for reading aloud to share with others.
Retold fairy tales are great fun to read. Gracie, the Pixie of the Puddle by Donna Jo Napoli is another version of the Frog Prince for youth.
Teens will like A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Vande Velde has also written Cloaked in Red, which I wrote about on this blog in 2011, versions of Little Red Riding Hood, humorous, ironic, and sometimes creepy. In Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird she retells several, including another version of both the Frog Prince and Red Riding Hood.