The Frog Princess: 08/04/13
The Frog Princess by E.D Baker is a humorous reworking of Grimms' "The Frog Prince"; it is also the inspiration for The Princess and the Frog released by the Walt Disney Company.
Princess Emeralda (aka Emma) has no interest in marrying Prince Jorge in an arranged marriage. She would rather spend time mapping and exploring the swamp behind the castle. It's there that she meets a talking frog who listens to her problems. Eventually she gives in to his request to kiss him — knowing full well that some local witches use animal transformations as a means of removing annoying people from their lives. The usual solution is a kiss from a princess.
Now anyone who has watched The Princess and Frog knows that the kiss backfires. The reason given in the film is that the main character isn't a princess. The explanation in the book is fuzzier — whatever witch did the spell didn't follow the standard playbook.
Rather than have two competing sources of magic — Mama Otis for good magic and the Shadow Man for evil magic — there is instead, any number of witches working magic in and near the swamp. These witches don't align themselves as neatly as they do in Disney films, meaning that finding witch and the proper solution to her spell isn't as cut and dry.
Again, fans of the film will recognize a similar path of exploration through the castle swamp as through the bayou. The reasons, though, are completely different and there's no artificially imposed timeline. On the one hand, Emma and Eadric have more chances to make mistakes and take wrong turns. On the other hand, sometimes these scenes feel like padding.
That said, the complicated plot threads as well as a world of problems that extends beyond the initial trouble of an arranged marriage and being turned into a frog, gives Emma and Eadric more things to explore at the end of the book without the tidy Disney magical ending.
The second book in the series is Dragon's Breath and it is on my to be read list. There are eight books in total.