cover image Prog Frince: A Ribbeting Mixed-Up Tale

Prog Frince: A Ribbeting Mixed-Up Tale

C. Drew Lamm. Orchard Books (NY), $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-531-30135-7

The fairy tale of the prince-turned-frog undergoes a transformation of its own in Lamm (Sea Lion Roars) and McClintock's (The Gingerbread Man) playful treatment. Jane, a literal-minded girl with no use for ""made-up"" stories, wakes up with a craving for muffins. As she goes to the bakery, her dime is stolen by a talking frog. The outraged Jane, figuring that there may be ""something about frogs that she had not learned in school,"" finds herself agreeing to hear him tell the story of the ""Frog Prince"" (or, as Jane, who is more mixed-up than she yet knows, calls it, ""the Prog Frince""). The frog recounts a wholesome romance between Jaylee, the king's stable girl, and the prince. Their love is halted when the king procures an anti-love potion that not only turns his son into a frog but robs Jaylee of her imagination. The two strands of the narrative plait themselves together as Jane gradually realizes she is the once-merry Jaylee. The writing is graceful, and McClintock does it immeasurable service in creating a classic English setting, a child's version of Jane Austen country. The cobblestoned village and shuttered cottages are ballast against the quirky opening passages, and skillful use of vignettes and spot art fills the pages with motion. The moralizing message about the need for make-believe impedes the book's charm only slightly; otherwise it's a sure pleaser. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)