If ever there was a story that I wasn’t sure about, its The Frog Prince. In the basic version I read with the kids, the story tells us of the spoiled princess who promises the frog anything to retrieve her golden ball from the deep well. The frog promptly asks to eat at the table with her, drink from her cup and sleep in her bed. She doesn’t want to keep her promise but her father is a stickler:
A promise you make is a promise you keep.
The story eventually has the frog requesting to sleep on her pillow. The version I have says that the princess grows so angry that she throws him against the wall and he turns into a prince. And then, beyond belief, he marries her.
Some versions have her kiss him, but I still don’t think this girl is worthy of his love. She needs to do some serious maturing before it would all work out neatly for my taste. Apparently, there are authors who have similar ideas, because there is a great book that has the frog moving on to find a better princess, because he isn’t really a prince.
He travels far and wide, helping many creatures and proving his worth before finding a Frog Princess who he can truly love. It’s so sweet!
Another fun twist is Fred Gwynne’s Pondlarker.
Pondlarker believes that he must be a prince and searches constantly for a princess to kiss him. When he finally finds her she’s old, because she’s spent quite a few years looking for just the right prince, and kissing an awful lot of frogs. Pondlarker realizes at the last moment that it is indeed better to be a frog and jumps out the window before she can kiss him. The first graders loved it!
I have other retellings in the collection, but I haven’t read them all:
I’ve actually put The Prince of the Pond on my summer reading list. I think it looks really fun.
The final story that I want to tell you about is The Frog Princess retold by Elizabeth Isele (originally recorded by Aleksandr Afanasiev). This is a great story from Russian folklore about a Czar who tells his sons to shoot arrows as far as they can, the woman who picks up the arrow will be their bride. The two older sons marry noble women but the third son, Ivan, finds a frog holding his arrow. Ivan is terribly distraught about this but he takes the frog to the palace and marries her. The Czar challenges the brides to make him a shirt, bake a cake and attend a ball. The frog, who is actually Vasilisa the Wise, is able to slip out of her frog skin and accomplish all of these tasks beautifully. Ivan doesn’t want her to become a frog again after the ball so he destroys her frog skin. Sadly this means Vasilisa cannot stay with him unless he can rescue her from evil Koshchey, Old Bones the Immortal. Ivan shows kindness to many creatures on his quest and with their help, and Baba Yaga’s, he is able to rescue Vasilisa and live happily ever after.
I am very excited about this story. I’m intrigued by Russian folklore, and I just bought a book about Vasilisa the Wise. I’m going to have to read more about her so I can write a post just about her.