Frogged, by Vivian Vande Velde

Frogged, by Vivian Vande Velde (HMH Books for Young Readers, April, 2013), puts a fun spin on the old fairy tale of the princess who kisses the frog prince.   In this case, when young Princess Imogene kisses an enchanted frog one day at his request (without getting too freaked out about it--she is a sensible type, unsquemish viz amphibians), he does indeed transform back into a boy as expected.  But as she kisses him, Imogene transforms into a frog!  To her horror, she learns that the only way out of the enchantment is to pass the kiss, and concomitant frog-ness, on to another victim!

The ex-frog boy won't help her, the witch who enchanted him in the first place won't help her...and before Imogene can hop home to find her parents, she's kidnapped by a rag-tag bunch of travelling players.  A talking frog adds zest to any performance...but every day finds her farther from home, trapped in a bucket and eating flies, when she's not reluctantly entertaining the masses.

This being a fairy tale re-imagining for the younger reader, Imogene does end up restored to her former self.   But rather disappointingly, it's not through her own agency or cleverness, but rather because another character decides to help her.  And so, though the premise of the story is fun, and Imogene's adventures as a frog are entertaining, it felt a tad flat in the end.  I kept waiting for Imogene to hatch a Cunning Plan, or something...and it never happened--though that being said, she does come up with the cunning a ha! moment that sets her free without be-frogging anyone else! 

Oh well.   Imogene's likeable, the frog spell and its implications are fun, and in short, it's a perfectly nice one to give a fairy-tale loving eight- or nine-year-old.

Here's a very small detail (one sentence worth) I liked--Imogene is a fairly typical un-princessly princess--she likes to run around and not worry about getting grubby.  However, she also enjoys embroidery, and it's nice to see sewing not as just one of the unpleasant things of princess girl life but as something worthwhile.


  1. Oh, that last detail makes me very happy. Hatred of needlework in a princess is a pet peeve.

  2. This sounds like an adorable book! And I love that it doesn't follow the usual pattern of the kiss turning the frog into a boy and them both living happily ever after. Great review!

  3. Hmm...this sounds a LOT like The Frog Princess by E. A. Baker (I think that's the author...) which I found to be a great premise with an extraordinarily disappointing follow-through. I like Vivian Vande Velde a lot, so I think I may need to try this one...even if it has some issues, I'm still hopeful!


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