For those of us who like more traditional fairy tales, though with a twist, there’s Alix Berenzy’s A Frog Prince.
While it’s clearly based on the traditional fairy tale of the same name, this begins to diverge with the princess’ utter rejection of the frog who retrieves her golden ball–she will have nothing to do with him at all, even when pressed by her father. The king, embarassed at his daughter’s bad behavior, gives the poor bereft frog a pony and a suit of clothes suitable…well.. for a prince.
The frog sets out on a quest given him by the moon:
Little green Frog alone at night
Beauty is in the beholder’s sight.
Follow the Sun, then follow me,
To lands beyond, across the sea.
In another kingdom you shall find
A true princess, of a different mind.
On this quest, the frog fulfills tasks reminiscent of the classic tropes of more traditional fairy tales. He rescues a dove by tricking two contentious trolls about to eat the bird into offing one another, and releases her. He snatches a turtle from the grasp of a warty green witch about to pop the turtle into a madly bubbling cauldron to finish off her potion, and carries the turtle off in his pocket. The witch pursues him, furious at being thwarted, and casts a spell causing the forest to ensnare him, only to be thwarted by the grateful dove and her fellow birds who peck a path for the frog to pass away safely then turn on the witch. The frog reaches the shore of a sea too wide for his pony to cross, only to be transported across by the largest cousins of the grateful turtle. At the end of his quest, he finds a magnificent castle in which lies sleeping his one true love…
…a frog princess.
Well, what did you expect? Is there any better creature for a frog prince than a frog princess, who will love him for himself, combined with the opportunity to rule, with his froggie love, over a kingdom of amphibians?
Not to mention what better message(s) can we send children but “Accept yourself for what you are; find someone like you who loves you for yourself.” and “Kindness and honor are worth more in the long run than physical appearance.” This is a lavishly illustrated modern fairy tale. I can see it being ideal for slightly older kids in the ‘read to me’ age range; it’s a little more sophisticated than the simplified versions often available, and both the text and illustrations presume a fair bit of familiarity with standard fairy tale patterns. Kids able to read for themselves might enjoy it as well, but as with many picture books, the text’s vocabulary and sentence structure may be higher than its interest level–kids old enough to read it might no longer be interested in childish fairy tales. (For those of us who never quite outgrew fairy tales, don’t worry: often kids do outgrow the ‘too cool for kiddie tripe’.)