________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 10 . . . . January 18, 2002

cover The Frog Princess.

Rosalind Allchin.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2001.
32 pp., cloth, $15.95.
ISBN 1-55337-000-7.

Subject Heading:
Canada-Miscellanea-Juvenile literature.

Kindergarten-grade 6 /Ages 5-11.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4


Up at the palace the Royal family was enjoying a hearty breakfast. The Prince ate quickly and hurried away. He had just enough time for a round of golf before the day's official duties began.

Down at the palace pond, Frog had forgotten about catching her breakfast. She was lost in her favourite daydream.

imageFate brings Prince and Frog together in this delightfully funny fractured and gender reversed version of the well known brothers Grimm tale as Frog comes to learn the meaning of the expression, "Beware of what you wish for because you might just get it." Of course, she dreams of becoming a princess, and the opportunity to be one presents itself when the golf-playing Prince, having driven a ball into the pond adjacent the Royal Fairway, makes the rash promise, "I'd give anything to find that wretched ball." Frog, knowing exactly where the ball has fallen, retrieves it and demands the Prince's hand in marriage, the bargain to be sealed with a kiss. A man of honor, the Prince cannot break his word, but he does not wish to marry a frog. Trying to buy himself some time, he suggests, "You know, not everyone likes being a princess....Why not try it for a day and leave the kiss until midnight?"

     Frog quickly finds that the life of a princess is not everything she thought it would be, and her day is filled with a series of faux pas from which she tries to learn but instead incorrectly generalizes the situation specific learnings. For example, garbed in unfamiliar and overly warm princessly garments, Frog jumps from the Royal Balcony into the cool waters of the palace moat. An unsmiling Prince informs her, "Princesses never get their clothes wet." Later, about to enter the Royal Carriage, Frog sees that it is raining, and not wanting to repeat the mistake of getting her clothes wet, she doffs them, only to be informed by an embarrassed Prince that "Princesses...never take their clothes off in public." And so goes Frog's day, but she perseveres until just before midnight when, descending the staircase, she sees what the servants are serving as hors d'oeuvres and jumps out the window, proclaiming, "I am not a princess.... I am a frog."

image     Dust jacket notes say that The Frog Princess is Rosalind Allchin's first book, and what an auspicious beginning. The story is wonderfully written, but Allchin's watercolour illustrations propel the book to a superior level of quality. A mixture of double page spreads and full page renderings with smaller illustrations dispersed amongst the text, the illustrations of courtly life are a riot of action and rich colour. Full of small details, they demand several "readings" for each viewing presents overlooked happenings. For example, during Frog's tea with the Queen, a member of the royal entourage can be seen surreptitiously feeding a dog while a sneaky cat laps up the contents from a spilled cup. In another illustration, the Prince, always aware of his royal station, wears his coronet over his straw fishing hat while a hungry Frog tries to steal some of his worm bait. In the penultimate illustration, Allchin offers her readers the opportunity to discover for themselves the source of Frog's horror, and, in case, they missed it, the text on the concluding page reveals that all Frog left behind her were "an abandoned shoe and an overturned tray of frogs legs."

     The Frog Princess is a "must" purchase by all libraries serving children, and it is a title that should be owned by middle and senior school language arts teachers who want to provide their students with models for reworking traditional literature.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and adolescent literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364