cover image The Horned Toad Prince

The Horned Toad Prince

Jackie Mims Hopkins. Peachtree Publishers, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56145-195-1

Hopkins (Tumbleweed Tom on the Texas Trail) spices up the Brothers Grimm's ""The Frog Prince"" by setting it in the American Southwest and casting its heroine as a spunky cowgirl. Here, horse-riding, lasso-wielding Reba Jo loses not a ball, but her brand-new hat, down the bottom of a dusty well, from whence a homely horned toad retrieves it. His price--Reba Jo must feed him some chili, play him a song on her guitarra and let him take a siesta in her sombrero. The unusual perspectives and broad humor of Austin's (Thirteen Monsters Who Should Be Avoided) over-the-top airbrush illustrations in shades of violet and gold capture Reba Jo's comical disgust as she tries to wiggle out of her unpalatable bargain as well as the ugly toad's insouciant charm as he connives his way free from his curse. Is marriage in store for our plucky heroine and the handsome caballero she frees with her kiss? The deliciously surprising double-twist ending leaves readers free to decide for themselves. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)