Three pink-cheeked, white princesses meet a conniving frog in this amusing metafictional parody of “The Frog Prince.”
The two older sisters are elegant young ladies in jewels and brocade gowns who sit in the palace garden reading fairy tales. They sit quietly and read “The Frog Prince,” while their much younger sister, Princess Martha, prefers learning facts and studying real frogs. A clever frog introduces himself as the ensorcelled Prince Ribbit and convinces the older sisters to take him indoors for a pampered life. Spunky Princess Martha, with red, curly hair and glasses, sees through the frog’s ruse. Her sisters offer fairy tales to prove their point, while Martha counters with informational texts, triggering the story’s refrain: “Just because it’s in a book doesn’t mean it’s true.” The older sisters kiss the frog to try to break the spell and turn him into a handsome prince and future husband, but Martha tries to befriend the frog, sealing the deal with a gentle kiss. In a surprising twist ending, the frog turns into a dark-haired, pale-skinned prince who is “SO handsome that Martha decided she DID want to marry him after all.” The final page, however, shows Martha laughing with the real frog, along with the story’s thematic advice not to believe everything, as “just because it’s in a book doesn’t mean it’s true.” Despite the tongue-in-cheek ambiguity of the ending, the story seems to reinforce the notion that partners should be chosen based on appearances. In addition, Princess Martha appears far too young to be contemplating marriage, so the moment when readers think she is may unsettle them. A huge trim size and digitally produced illustrations in bright, jewel tones add appeal.
An entertaining effort with a disappointing denouement. (Picture book. 4-7)