Today’s Fantastic Fiction for Kids post comes from Janelle at Brimful Curiosities. Janelle’s blog features reviews and posts on children’s books, music, educational products, toys and more. Every week I make a point of going through her “Full to the Brim” Kid’s Book Giveaway List – a round up of kidlit giveaways all over the blogosphere.
Here’s a bit about Janelle: “I have many early memories of reading together with my mom and can clearly recall reciting nursery rhymes out of a worn Mother Goose book. When I had my own children I wanted to create similar memories and started building a home library. I’m lucky to be a stay-at-home mom and have two kids, a daughter (5) and son (2). We read several books each week and share our favorites on the Brimful Curiosities blog. I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering, but after graduation from college I decided to work in a library before settling down to raise a family!”
Over the last few months Janelle has been researching stories based on or inspired by Grimm’s The Frog King and today we get to reap the fruits of her labour – so without further ado I now hand you over to Janelle:
Pick up a book involving a princess and a frog and you never know what you’ll find. Beheaded, thrown against the wall, spending evenings on a pillow or a romantic kiss – the frog’s transformational ending varies with each retelling. In most retellings of the Grimm’s fairy tale version, the princess does NOT kiss the frog. Instead, the cruel princess treats the frog very poorly and eventually the frog transforms after the princess violently throws him against the wall. That really wasn’t the type of story I wanted to read to my preschooler, so I began an exhaustive search for a less violent, age-appropriate version. Here are a few of our favorites:
Ormerod’s elegant version combines beautiful, Art Nouveau styled illustrations with a well-written, non-violent retelling of the classic fairy tale. A queen, instead of a king, forces the princess to keep her promise to the frog. Eventually, the princess grows to love the frog and the frog transforms to green-attired prince after sleeping three nights on the princess’ pillow. The amazingly detailed illustrations drawn using muted colors are framed by elaborate borders of dancing plants, insects, amphibians and other creatures. [Other options of well-illustrated books with a similar non-violent plot include: The Princess and the Frog by Rachel Isadora; The Frog Prince retold by Fiona Black, illustrated by Wayne Parmenter]
The Frog Prince by Gerda Neubacher
Surprisingly, very few versions depict the princess actually kissing the frog. In this happily-ever-after tale, a repentant princess named Anna does indeed give the frog that remarkable kiss after she realizes she has hurt his feelings. The colorful paintings of the large-eyed frog and purple clothed princess with long, flowing hair perfectly fit this fairy tale.
For those looking for the traditional version of the story where the princess throws the frog against the wall and where Iron Henry makes an appearance, we recommend the The Frog Prince by Walter Crane. There is no denying that Crane is one of the greats in the children’s book illustration world. His gorgeous work in The Frog Prince shows precision and attention to detail. His version is available for viewing free online at the Internet Archive: http://www.archive.org/details/frogprince00cran.
The Frog Prince by Kathy-Jo Wargin, illustrated by Anne Yvonne Gilbert
Very few adaptations show a picture of the evil witch who turns the prince into a frog and this is one of the few. Gilbert’s luxurious illustrations portray the splendor of the royalty – the magnificent princess wears elaborate, heavy gowns and numerous jewels. Truly a feast for the eyes, but remember, the frog does get tossed at a wall in this version.
A Frog Prince by Alix Berenzy
An unusual variant of The Frog Prince story – finally, that awful princess doesn’t win the prize prince! Berenzy’s unique tale is told from the frog’s view point. After getting treated poorly by the princess, the frog is released and searches for his true love. It’s hard not to root for this kind and brave frog. The message that real beauty lies beneath rings loud and clear in the telling. The emotion-filled, stunning illustrations are wonderfully done, but may be a little dark for very young children.
Lastly, don’t forget to check out a version of the Russian folktale, The Frog Princess. This frog bride tale isn’t as well-known as The Frog Prince, but is very worth reading. We liked the adaption below, mostly because it wasn’t quite as long as the other versions.
Some music to enjoy alongside this wonderful selection could include:
We like the look of these frog activities:
Any round up of Frog Prince stories wouldn’t be complete without mentioning SurLaLune’s essay “The Tale of a Frog Kissed into a Prince“, and perhaps you know of some additional versions of this tale – if so Janelle and I would be very pleased to hear about them!
I’m sure you’ll agree with me that today’s contribution from Janelle has been wonderful – a great selection of books with lots to think about and enjoy. Please do pop over to her blog and say hello – and don’t forget to let us know about any other Frog Prince/Princess books you know of!