I started reading an e-book version Tales of the Frog Princess by E. D. Baker, and for some reason thought it was a short story collection. Only after I finished did I realize it was actually the first three books in the series packaged together as one e-book. Which actually made me feel better, because it took me a lot longer to read than I anticipated! Here’s a quick take on each of the first three books in the series.
Probably the most significant departure from the familiar fairy tale which inspired this story is that Princess Emeralda (Emma) is also a witch. Her aunt and mentor, also the country’s most powerful witch and protector, teaches Emma to use spells and control her power, something Emma struggles with and has very little confidence about for much of the story. When she retreats to a pond outside the castle for some solitude, she meets Eadric, a talking frog who claims to be a prince under a curse.
Eadric finally convinces Emma to break his spell by kissing him, only something goes wrong. Instead of returning Eadric to his human form, Emma becomes a frog. The two set out to find the witch who transformed Eadric to begin with so they can have her explain what went wrong and undo the spell. While Emma is smart, sweet, and eager to please, Eadric is a bit proud and sometimes obnoxious. Despite all that, Emma seems to gradually fall for him. The two encounter some peril along the way from predators and a witch who needs two talking frogs for a spell of her own.
Witch themes aside, the story is clean and well-suited to readers ages eight to twelve. There are obviously some kisses between Emma and Eadric. Even after he’s returned to his human form, he asks Emma to kiss him. The exchanges are brief. It’s a pretty quick read packed with quirky characters, such as Emma’s aunt’s lost love, who turns out to have been transformed into an otter and a perky bat who helps Emma escape captivity.
Emma and Eadric set out on another quest to save her kingdom. Emma’s aunt, who should be busy protecting the country, can’t stop worrying about her lost love. Emma and her friends must reverse the otter-transformation spell before it becomes permanent. Emma and Eadric race to find the ingredients for the reversal spell. The task takes them to a mermaid’s undersea castle and deep within a dragon kingdom. Emma’s magic goes haywire, randomly transforming herself and Eadric into frogs and back again at the slightest hiccup.
By this second book, Eadric’s character smooths out a bit and it becomes easier to understand Emma’s affection for him. Emma herself remains strong and smart, even when she doubts her magic. Eadric still pesters Emma for kisses at every turn, but she often responds more favorably. The streamlined storytelling is perfect for readers who get easily distracted or need activity to keep them interested.
Emma travels to the past to undo an evil curse placed on her family generations earlier by a slighted fairy. She tries to resist temptation to meddle in the past, which isn’t easy. She also learns the hero of the story isn’t the person she expected it to be. The same streamlined storytelling, fun characters and quirky humor fill the pages of the story as earlier books in the series.