Originally posted September 9, 2006 at 20:09.
I'm trying something new with my layout for these reviews and the links to Amazon to buy the books. Here's hoping it works.
Tales of the Frog Princess by E.D. Baker
(Crossposted from another blog)
These are the three books I read in the last two days. Yup, all three in two days. Why? Because they were that good. They're labelled as "independant reader" which means 8-13, but I don't care. I think they're good enough for any age level, and I think anyone who likes a good fantasy story or fairy tale will love them.
Obviously, these books are very rooted in familiar fairy tales, with references to the Frog Prince, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and dozens of others. But, since I usually dislike when a fairy tale retelling has to throw in everything I think this one is my shining example of how to do it right. There are just offhand comments now and then, nothing too "pun-ish" about it. It's not in your face, it's just there and gone.
The Frog Princess introduces us to Princess Emeralda, her aunt the Green Witch Grassina, and her strict mother Chartruese. The names take a lot of getting used to, but in the end I realized I'd rather have goofy funny names than some of the stuff fantasy writers come up with these days.
Obviously, Emeralda (or Emma) comes across a frog who claims he's a prince waiting for a kiss to turn back into a human. I expected the story to me a more straight retelling, with her taking him back to the castle and all that and her finally kissing him in the final acts of the story. I was wholeheartedly wrong, and I'm glad for it.
In fact, that was the beauty of these books. There were a lot of things I saw coming and could imagine before they happened, but there was a lot that I got wrong and I was pleasantly surprised by. It's just darn good fanatasy/fairy tale literature, and I think half the people I know need to go out and pick them up right now. I actually only picked up the first on my lunch break, and got halfway through before I had to go back to work. The idea of not finishing it until Monday tortured me so I bought all three books before I left. I shouldn't have, but man am I glad I did. I wouldn't be surprised if I reread them in the next week.