Princess between Worlds by E. D. Baker

Princess between Worlds, by E. D. Baker, was published in 2016. It is the sequel to Princess in Disguise.

Just as Princess Annie and Prince Liam are making plans to leave Treecrest and travel the world, a witch shows up and gifts them a collection of postcards from the Magic Marketplace. She explain that by simply touching a postcard, it will transport Annie and Liam to exotic lands and far-flung kingdoms. During their adventures, they meet many new friends, but they also encounter people who want to harm them. What the witch doesn’t tell them is how to safely return, so it’ll be up to Annie—with her immunity to magic—to find a way to get Liam and herself home before they find themselves stuck in one place forever.

Rating: 2/5

I wasn’t planning on reading more of Baker’s works, especially not a series that has continuously disappointed me, but I saw Princess between Worlds on the library shelves and decided to pick it up. And…it only reinforced my decision that I’m not a fan of Annie’s story anymore.

I did find the idea of a crossover appealing, and Princess between Worlds has characters from Baker’s Tales of the Frog Princess in it, although I hadn’t gotten far enough in the series to meet those particular characters. Now, since Baker essentially reveals everything that occurs in those books, I no longer have to read them—yes, be warned that Baker spoils the events of the later books in the Frog Princess series with this book. The crossover was clearly fan service, but it was a reasonably good idea, and it was probably the part of the book I found most interesting.

Other than that, Princess between Worlds is same old, same old—Annie and Liam go on an adventure, get into trouble because of Annie’s magic, have stilted conversations with each other and with other people, and are attacked by enemies for no apparent reason other than to create conflict. Baker also gets around Annie’s magical immunity by introducing a new, special magic that is not affected by her gift, and I supposed it makes sense in a way even if it is hand-waving and obviously contrived. These series would be good for children who enjoy these sorts of fairy-tale-esque adventures, but if they want something with more depth and memorability, they should look elsewhere.

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: Kissing

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

“So you think we should use these postcards?” said Liam. “And all we have to do is touch them?”

Moonbeam nodded. “You have to touch the middle of the card showing the place you want to visit while thinking about how much you want to go there. While you’re on your grand tour, I’ll find Rotan and lock him away for good. With my fair friends helping me, we should find him long before you come home.”

Liam examined the card on the top of the pile. “We could go to this one first. The views from that mountain are amazing! Look, Annie, the picture looks so real, almost as if you could feel the sow.”

“Liam, no!” Annie shouted, grabbing his free hand as he touched the middle of the postcard with the other.

An instant later they were gone, leaving Moonbeam staring at the spot where they’d been standing.

You can buy this here: http://amzn.to/2gA7jyn

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Fairy Tale Friday: Princess In Disguise

Princess in Disguise is written by E. D. Baker. It was published in 2015 by Bloomsbury. It is the sequel to The Bravest Princess.

Summary/Blurb:

After helping Sleeping Beauty and Snow White break the curses that plagued them, Princess Annie is finally ready to live happily ever after with Prince Liam. She’s planned the perfect day for a celebration, but then everything starts to go wrong! A huge storm floods the castle. Then, guests fall mysteriously ill and a dangerous fog appears, trapping everyone. Someone with a lot of magic is causing trouble. The one person who can help is the fairy Moonbeam, and Annie’s immunity to magic makes her the only person able to reach her. With Liam in tow, Annie embarks on a wild adventure beyond the castle walls. Along the way, she’ll run into some familiar friends…and some dangerous new foes. Will Annie be able to reach Moonbeam in time to turn everything around?

Yawn.

E. D. Baker has a penchant for writing really good books, then writing sequels that get progressively more boring. And her stand-alone novel, A Question of Magic, is also a tedious read. I’ve been trying to figure out why this is.

I think part of it is due to her writing style. Princess in Disguise is very tell-heavy, with lots of similar structured sentences that make for a sort of monotone as you read them. A lot of the dialogue was about Annie and Liam discussing what they were seeing or telling each other what they were going to do, which make everything seem a little mechanical. I think the main thing that bothered me is that Baker’s writing is just average. And nothing in her writing or the plot inspired me to care about the book.

My opinion of Baker has really gone down since I first started reading her books. It’s a little sad, to be honest, and it’s tainted my view of the first two books in this series.

Rating: 1/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Middle Grade

Passages/Quotes:

“Have you come to gloat?” he asked.

“I came to offer you a ride. It’s daylight now and I’m surprised the farmer hasn’t seen us yet.”

“I suppose we could ride together,” Liam said, eyeing the gelding.

“I think he could handle that just fine,” Annie said, reaching out to give Liam a hand up. “I have no idea what his name is, but I’m going to call him Otis.”

Overall Review:

Princess of Disguise is an unfortunately boring book, with almost nothing to recommend it except that it’s part of the halfway-decent Wide-Awake Princess series (a series in which my opinion has degraded the more books I’ve read in it). I don’t think I can read Baker anymore, simply because I haven’t found any of her books pleasant to read recently. Not because they were necessarily bad, but because they were just so boring and flat.

You can buy this here: Princess in Disguise: A Tale of the Wide-Awake Princess

Fairy Tale Friday: A Question of Magic

A Question of Magic is written by E. D. Baker. It was published in 2013 by Bloomsbury.

Summary/Blurb:

“Serafina is living the normal life of a village girl when she gets a mysterious letter—her first letter ever—from a great-aunt she’s never heard of. Her great-aunt is a Baba Yaga, a person with magical abilities, who lives in an even more magical cottage.

Serafina’s life takes an amazing turn when she is summoned to the cottage to become the new Baba Yaga! But leaving behind her home, her family, and the boy she loves isn’t easy. As Serafinag rows into her incredible new role, she discovers that strangers can ask her one question and she must answer truthfully. It’s like a glimpse into a crystal ball…but telling the future doesn’t always mean knowing the right answers.”

Thoughts:

I have a love/hate relationship with Baker’s works. I love the first two Tales of the Frog Princess books, but have problems with the next two. I love the first two Wide-Awake Princess books, but have problems with the third. I picked this book of Baker’s because it was a departure from those two universes. But my feelings ended up being mixed.

First, this is much more serious in tone than either the Frog Princess books or the Wide-Awake Princess books. By serious, I mean not as focused on humor or funny situations. There is actually a distinct lack of humor in this book that I found slightly disconcerting, after reading seven Baker books with humor as a main feature. I congratulate Baker for stepping away from her humorous writing to tackle something a bit less silly, but overall the lack of humor made the book feel really flat.

I don’t know whether it was the lack of humor or just Baker trying something different, but the writing was a mechanical type of “she sat down, she decided to go to sleep, she slept, she woke up in the morning” which made the whole book a little boring to read, honestly. I also thought that it was unnecessary for Baker to say “Serafina said in her Baba Yaga voice” every time she answered a question. The plot wasn’t all that impressive, I didn’t buy the romance, and all Serafina really did was just mope around and futilely look for blue rose tea. When Alex was describing his adventure at the end, I thought, “Wow, I wish I had read that instead!” The whole book was really rather odd, and slow, and such a difference from Baker’s other books that it seemed very un-Baker-like.

Rating: 2/5

Recommended Age Range: 10+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Middle Grade

Passages/Quotes:

“No, I’m not going to let you in without announcing you. She’s in charge here, not you! Baba Yaga! There’s someone here to—Ow! Stop hitting me, old woman!”

Serafina peeked out the window to see an old woman rap the skull with her cane. The gate swung wide, even though Boris was gnashing his teeth at their visitor.

~Baker 86

Overall Review:

A Question of Magic was really disappointing. I think Baker writes better when she goes the silly/humorous route, and the more serious tone of this book just made everything seem a little boring and mechanical. I wasn’t invested in the plot, the romance, or Serafina’s character, and I found myself glad when the book was over.

You can buy this here: A Question of Magic

Fairy Tale Friday: The Bravest Princess

The Bravest Princess is written by E. D. Baker. It was published in 2014 by Bloomsbury. It is the sequel to Unlocking the Spell.

Summary/Blurb:

“Sleeping Beauty’s younger sister, Annie, still can’t catch a break!

First, Annie helped Sleeping Beauty wake up from a hundred-year curse by finding her one true love, Prince Beldegard. Then, with her amazing ability to fend off magic, Annie helped remove the spell that turned that prince into a bear. But now, trouble in the kingdom threatens her good friend: the one and only Snow White.

Annie receives a message that Snow White’s stepmother has disappeared and that her father wants her married right away. But with so many suitors, which of all those hopeful princes is the best choice? And why, exactly, is Annie being followed around by such horrible crows? Could there be an evil witch behind all this trouble? One thing’s for sure: it’s going to take a brave princess to set everything straight again.”

Thoughts:

The Bravest Princess is quite a different book than the first two, I thought. The first two were a great conglomeration of fairy tales with situational and often dry humor that made them really funny. This one had less of both. It had a few nods to some fairy tales, but most of it was using the fairy tale characters that had already been introduced in the first two books. That’s fine, but the book felt lacking because of it. The humor felt forced in places (especially Liam’s responses to the princes during Snow White’s trials) and I wasn’t as engaged in the plot. The final revelation of the villains felt a little abrupt, too.

I will say, though, that the crows were scary. When they attacked Annie in her room, I got shivers. Ugh. It was really downplayed because of the audience, but let’s face it, getting attacked The Birds-style is terrifying.

Despite the relative weakness of the plot, the characters were still endearing, and Annie especially got a lot of development due to the fact that she couldn’t rely on her magic-repelling skills to help her out. I’m sad that we didn’t get to see more of Gwendolyn and her interaction with Annie, and there wasn’t much resolution in regards to Annie’s standing with the magically-blessed people around her, but there is at least a hint that things will get better.

Rating: 3/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Middle Grade

Passages/Quotes:

A shadow flashed by. Nervous, Annie tried to peer out the window. She was afraid of the crows, but she was even more afraid of what their presence there meant. The most Annie could do was negate the magic while she was touching something that had a spell cast on it, like the crow that had brushed against her when she was being lowered from the tower. If only she could see the witch face-to-face!

Overall Review:

The Bravest Princess was a little disappointing to me. I didn’t find it nearly as fun as the first two books and the humor and plot felt forced in places. I did like Annie’s development, though, even though she didn’t get much in regards to her outcast-like status, and she and Liam are cute. Also, the crows were scary.

You can buy this here: The Bravest Princess

Fairy Tale Friday: No Place For Magic

No Place For Magic is written by E. D. Baker. It is the sequel to Once Upon a Curse. It was published in 2006 by Bloomsbury.

Summary/Blurb:

“When Emma and her beloved frog-turned-prince Eadric travel to Upper Montevista to ask for Eadric’s parents’ blessing on their marriage, they find his homeland in chaos: Eadric’s annoying little brother, Bradston, has been kidnapped by trolls! Worse, his mother won’t let Emma use magic, even to rescue Bradston, and Eadric suddenly seems a bit too fond of the girls from his past. As they travel through unfriendly lands, battle sea monsters and vampires, and find allies in unlikely places, will Emma still see Eadric as the strong and loyal young man she thought he was?”

Thoughts:

No Place For Magic is a nice ending for Emma and Eadric, and it has a promising outlook for the future of Montevista and their stance towards magic. Emma’s spells are especially good in this one, particularly the spell that she places on Bradston. You can tell that her time as the Green Witch has really honed her abilities. Also, that part where she turns into a dragon and fights the Troll Queen is awesome.

So, once again, the blurb is a bit misleading. I was worried that the book would once again have a focus on the “Does he or does he not” aspect of Emma and Eadric’s relationship that was prominent in the previous ones, but it really doesn’t. Despite the rushed wedding at the end, there are virtually no worries about whether or not they will actually tie the knot—and that’s a good thing. It shows the growth of their relationship over the last three books.

I really do prefer Baker’s Wide-Awake Princess series to this one, and I think it’s because the former is more recent than the latter, and thus Baker’s writing is better. I liked the first two books in this series, but this one and Once Upon a Curse were disappointing.

Another mention of the misleading summary: I was looking forward to Emma conquering obstacles without the use of magic, and was disappointed when she continued to rely on and use magic. I was hoping for an actual magic ban, rather than a “If I use magic, they’ll know where I am but I can just keep walking and they can’t find me” device. I think it would have made Emma’s quest less similar to the ones in the previous books, and really would have made this last book in her arc stand out.

Also disappointing: the fact that Emma’s relationship with her mother goes nowhere. I would have liked to see some improvement or some explanation on that front.

Rating: 3/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Middle Grade

Passages/Quotes:

“Anything else?” I asked.

“Well, yes. I probably should have told you this before: the people of my kingdom aren’t as comfortable with magic as the citizens of Greater Greensward are. A lot of my parents’ subjects don’t like witches.”

“You must be extremely open-minded for someone from Upper Montevista.”

I am,” he said, looking smug. “But then you’ve always known that I’m extraordinary.”

~Baker 44

“Look straight ahead,” I told Eadric. “I think there’s a cockatrice to our left.”

I should have known better than to tell him, because the first thing he did was turn his head to look. “That’s no cockatrice. It’s just a big toad.”

“I told you not to look!”

Eadric shrugged. “I won’t when it’s a cockatrice, but I can look at toads, can’t I?”
~Baker 126

Overall Review:

No Place For Magic has a good ending to the story of Emma and Eadric, and the last fight with the Troll Queen was pretty awesome. However, this book was even more disappointing to me than Once Upon a Curse, and again because of wasted opportunities. Having Emma actually be in “No Place for Magic” as the title suggests would have really made her character shine, but instead, she does things that we already knew she could do and makes this quest pretty much the same as others she’s been on.

You can buy this here: No Place for Magic (Tales of the Frog Princess, Book 4)

Fairy Tale Friday: Unlocking The Spell

Unlocking the Spell is written by E. D. Baker. It was published in 2012 by Bloomsbury. It is the sequel to The Wide-Awake Princess. Baker’s website can be found here.

Summary/Blurb:

“When Princess Annie helped her older sister, Gwendolyn (aka Sleeping Beauty), wake up from that pesky hundred-year curse by finding her beloved prince, did life get back to normal?

Not a chance!

Unfortunately, that beloved prince, Beldegard, is stuck in the body of a bear. And as much as Princess Gwendolyn loves him (a little too much, Annie thinks!) it soon becomes clear that only Annie, with her amazing ability to fend off magic, can find the evil dwarf who cast the spell.

Luckily, Annie has assistance from the handsome prince Liam, and for a girl with no magic, she certainly has a few tricks in her repertoire.”

Thoughts:

After reading this book, I find that I actually prefer this world to Baker’s other world in The Tales of the Frog Princess. This is even more of a fairy-tale world than the other, and Baker incorporates lesser-known fairytales, such as Puss in Boots and the Town Musicians of Bremen, not to mention sly references to the fairytale about the tablecloth that gives you food and others.

This book is also hilariously funny. Just the image of Annie holding Beldegard’s hand so he turns human and sitting there as he and Gwendolyn kiss is hilarious. And the fairy-tale world fits perfectly with the humor of the quest.

Lest you think it’s all fun and games, there’s also character development! Gwendolyn and Annie improve their relationship and Annie, because of the events of the last book, begins to appreciate her lack of magic more—and so do the people around her.

Finally, I have to say that I absolutely adore the cover art.

Rating: 5/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Fairy Tale

Passages/Quotes:

Liam leaned forward in his seat. “Where is Carabas located? I’m afraid I’ve never heard of it.”

“Ah, that is because it is far from here, located in the kingdom of Dorinocco,” said Puss.

Liam snorted and covered it with a pretend cough. Annie couldn’t help but smile. He was the second son of the king and queen of Dorinocco […] If anyone would know about the towns in Dorinocco, it would be Liam.

“How interesting,” said Liam. “You see, I’ve traveled extensively throughout Dorinocco, yet I’ve never heard of Carabas.”

~Baker 51

“I have a question for you,” Beldegard said to the fish in a softer voice as he leaned toward the side of the boat.

The fish swam closer, peering up at the bear prince with its cold, round eyes. “Yes?” it said. “What is it?”

“Were you ever a human?”

“Human?” the fish said, sounding incredulous. “Of course not! Now if that isn’t the stupidest question I’ve ever—”

With a swipe of his paw, Beldegard scooped up the fish and shoved it into his mouth.

~Baker 169

Overall Review:

Unlocking the Spell has many references to the lesser-known fairy tales, causing delight for those who have read them. It’s funny, adventurous, and cute, with development of characters and other good elements. I am eagerly looking forward to the next book.

You can buy this here: Unlocking the Spell: A Tale of the Wide-Awake Princess

Once Upon A Curse: Why Have Ominous Warnings If Nothing Comes Of Them?

Once Upon a Curse is written by E. D. Baker. It is the sequel to Dragon’s Breath. It was published in 2004 by Bloomsbury. Baker’s website can be found here.

Mild spoilers for The Frog Princess and Dragon’s Breath

Summary/Blurb:

“Many years before Princess Emma’s time, an angry fairy cast a curse on her ancestor, Princess Hazel. The fairy decreed that Hazel and all her female descendants, upon reaching their sixteenth birthdays, could not touch a flower, or else all their youth, beauty, and kindness would be erased.

Emma has seen it happen—her grandmother has always been a spiteful witch, and now her favorite aunt, Grassina, has fallen under the spell as well. Though Emma has wonderful new powers as the Green Witch, she has only a week before her own sixteenth birthday, and with it comes the threat of the family curse.

No one before her has been powerful enough to find the fairy responsible, or to reverse the curse, but Emma is determined-and with the help of Eadric; her favorite bat, Li’l; and some ancestors she has only just met, she may be able to outsmart an adversary she thought she’d left behind long ago.”

Thoughts:

I love time-travel, and although I had one major problem with it (see below), the time-travel in this book was executed nicely, if not as Back to the Future-ish as it could have been. Baker continues to use her characters in such a way that absurd situations never seem absurd, just humorous. Every character is used for some sort of humor, and it makes the whole story very fun to read (the fight with the dragon is especially humorous).

I absolutely adored the ending. I thought that Emma was going to fall to the curse and Eadric would break it, but the way Baker worked it out was just so absolutely perfect and so sweet. I also like how Eadric doesn’t really take center stage at all and how Emma’s position as the Green Witch compromises their relationship (the premise of the next book, where Emma must—gasp!—not use magic!).

A big “awwww” to the vampire for waiting all those years for Li’l.

Okay, so when Emma first went back the past and started changing things despite always thinking about how Dyspepsia had warned her not to do that, I thought for sure that when Emma went back, something big was going to be messed up and she would have to fix it. And I know that’s sort of obvious, but I thought, “Why have Emma remember every time not to change the past while she’s changing things in the past when something big like that is not going to happen?” But then nothing did happen, and I was just disappointed. Emma’s trip to the past was just a convenient excuse for her to hear the curse, and Dyspepsia might as well not have bothered warning Emma when absolutely nothing happened.

(I suppose that you could argue for the J. K. Rowling route; that is, Emma didn’t change the future because she had already done those things in the past; i.e., the first dragon going to the mountains to set up a home where, in the future, the dragons reside. But I still think letting the servant out of the oubliette was a bad idea, because she learned some information about the past from his skeleton in the oubliette, which would not have been there since she freed him in the past, preventing her from learning that information in the future. Or perhaps I’m just overthinking this.)

Also, the plot was fairly simple and I finished the book feeling a bit let-down and wishing that it had been more complicated.

Rating: 3/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Middle Grade

Passages/Quotes:

“It sounds complicated.”

“It isn’t really. I’m sure you’ll do just fine. Oh, one other thing—make sure you don’t change anything when you go back in time. Any change then could have a big effect later. Everyone always gives the same example: if you kill your ancestor, you’ll never have been born.”

“That doesn’t make sense. If I killed someone, and then I didn’t exist, how could I have killed him in the first place?”

~Baker 29

“I’ll go, Sire,” said Eadric. “I need the practice.”

Fenton made a rude sound, then said, “I’ll go, sire, to prove I’m worthy of Princess Hazel’s hand.”

“I’ll go, sire,” said Jasper, “to rid the countryside of a terrible scourge.”

“I’ll go, sire,” said the two knights.

“For honor,” said one.

“For glory,” said another.

“For goodness’ sake,” I whispered to Millie. “Do they all have to be so dramatic?”

~Baker 117

Overall Review:

I was a bit disappointed in Once Upon a Curse; although the time-travel was neat, I thought there were some major execution problems. It also seemed like it could have been much more complex and the simplicity of it disappointed me. However, it was quite funny for the most part, and the ending was great, certainly not what I was expecting in terms of who breaks the curse.

You can buy this here: Once Upon a Curse

Dragon’s Breath: “A Sword’s Name Shouldn’t Be Friendly”

Dragon’s Breath is written by E. D. Baker. It was published in 2003 by Bloomsbury. It is the sequel to The Frog Princess. Baker’s website can be found here.

Summary:

“Princess Emeralda (or Emma, as she is known) is just discovering her own talents—and lack of talents—for magic when her mother has a desperate request: their beautiful country of Greater Greensward is being invaded, and Emma must get her aunt Grassina to start protecting the kingdom with magic, or everything will be lost.

A simple search to reverse an old spell becomes an epic quest as Emma and Prince Eadric, her formerly froggy friend, defy the wily witches and wizards of the magical world.

From the bottom of the fishbowl sea, to the Dragon Olympics, to her own castle and her unpredictable family members, Emma proves she is a witch very much worthy of her inherited powers.”

Thoughts:

This book is even funnier than The Frog Princess, and has tons of nods to fairy tales and other fantastic elements. My favorite part of the book was the interaction with the dragons, although seeing Emma come into her powers and start winning at everything is pretty satisfying, too.

I also like the elements introduced in the books that pave the way for a sequel. In the first book, it was the introduction to Haywood, which naturally leads to this book being about breaking his curse. Then Grassina gets cursed, so the next book will naturally lead to Emma breaking that curse (Baker does this with The Wide-Awake Princess, too).

Emma has a sort of “Should I or shouldn’t I” when it comes to Eadric, which I think is a great change over the usual “And they all lived happily ever after.” I mean, it’s pretty obvious that Emma and Eadric will live happily ever after, but for once we’re seeing the journey to it.

Rating: 5/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Passages/Quotes:

Eadric had waited for me at the water’s edge. He was frowning, and I knew he wasn’t in a good mood. “Grassina was right when she said you should work on your spells. What were you thinking of with that last one? Winged creature? You could have called up anything from a gnat to a dragon!”

“I was trying to call a bird.”

“Some bird!” he said.

“At least I tried! I didn’t see you doing anything to save us.”

~Baker 55

“Sword, what’s your name?”

Light flashed on the blade as it began to sing.

My name is Ferdinand,

But you can call me Ferdy.

I’ve been told I sing too much,

I am a little wordy.

“My sword’s name is Ferdy? What kind of name is that for a sword?”

“I think it’s a nice name,” said Li’l. It’s kind of friendly.”

“A sword’s name shouldn’t be friendly! It should be elegant and powerful, a strong name for a strong weapon!”

~Baker 179

 Overall Review:

Dragon’s Breath is quite a charming book, and in many ways improves upon The Frog Princess simply by making everything bigger, in a sense. Ralf the dragon was adorable, and Emma had some truly awesome moments both pre- and post-Green Witch. What happened to Grassina is a bit sad, but sure to come out all right in the next book, which is obviously going to be about breaking that curse.

You can buy this here: Dragon’s Breath (Tales of the Frog Princess)

Fairy Tale Friday: The Frog Princess

The Frog Princess is written by E. D. Baker. It was published in 2002 by Bloomsbury. Baker’s website can be found here.

Summary/Blurb:

“Princess Emeralda isn’t exactly an ideal princess. Her laugh sounds like a donkey’s bray rather than tinkling bells, she trips over her own feet more often than she gracefully curtsies, and she hates the young Prince Jorge whom her mother hopes she will marry. But if Emma, (as she is called), ever thought to escape from her frustrating life, she never expected it to happen by kissing a frog!

One kiss from this frog who calls himself Prince Eadric, and Emma’s whole life turns upside down…”

Thoughts:

So, apparently this book inspired the Disney film The Princess and the Frog. By “inspired,” I mean that Disney took the idea of the girl who kisses the frog turning into a frog (instead of the frog turning into a prince) and that’s pretty much it. The two really aren’t alike at all except for that.

I really enjoyed the twist of the kiss turning the girl/princess into a frog. It’s original, a great departure from the modern “Frog Prince” stories (interestingly enough, the original fairy tale had the frog turn back into a prince after the princess throws it against the wall, not through her kissing it), and is quite frankly a lot more interesting. It also allows more room for the princess to get involved in the action.

The characters were fresh (as in refreshing, not saucy) and funny and the world, though familiar in its magic and creatures, was not so familiar as to be boring or unoriginal. I loved the bat Li’l and the snake Fang; really, all the creatures Emma and Eadric run into are great.

While this is a stand-alone book, there are apparently a lot more books in the series and I’m looking forward to seeing where Baker takes Emma and Eadric next.

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Fairy Tale

Passages/Quotes:

“Gross! Yuck!” I said, then spit until my mouth was dry.

“Good, huh?” asked Frog.

“Good? It was disgusting!” I wiped my tongue with my fingers trying to get rid of the taste.

“Be honest, now. What did it taste like?”

“Horrible!”

“Really?”

“Well,” I said reluctantly, “the plum was sour, but the fly was kind of sweet.”

“Ah-hah!” said Frog. “I knew you’d like it!”

~Baker 43

“You are the essence of beauty,” he began, his eyes raised adoringly to the nymph’s face. “You are my sun, my moon, my stars.”

“You’re a frog,” she said, noticing him at last. “I don’t talk to frogs.”

“I’m not just a frog.”

“You look like a frog to me,” she said, the tiniest frown wrinkling her flawless brow.

~Baker 123

Overall Review:

A delightful book all around. I love the twist on the original story, and Emma’s adventures with Eadric are fun and familiar and lend a type of charm to the whole book. Baker is quickly becoming my new favorite queen of fairy tales.

You can buy this here: The Frog Princess (Tales of the Frog Princess)

Fairy Tale Friday: The Wide-Awake Princess

I love fairy tales, and I love fairy tale adaptations. I’ve read so many that I’ve decided to make them their own special blog day!

The Wide-Awake Princess is written by E. D. Baker. It was published in 2010 by Bloomsbury. Baker’s website can be found here.

Summary/Blurb:

“When Princess Gwen (otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty) pricks her finger and sends herself and the whole castle to sleep for one hundred years, only her younger sister, Annie, is left awake. And only Annie—blessed (and cursed) with being resistant to magic—can venture beyond the rose-covered hedge to get help. She must find Gwen’s true love to kiss her awake.

But what about the one hundred years? And who is Gwen’s true love? Her irritating suitor, Digby? The happy-go-lucky prince Andreas, who is holding a contest to find his bride? The conniving Clarence, whose evil motives couldn’t possibly spell true love?

Joined by Liam, one of her father’s guards, Annie travels through a fairy-tale land populated with characters both familiar and new as she tries to find the prince to rescue her sister…and perhaps even discover a true love of her own.”

Thoughts:

A great, unique twist on a classic fairy tale! More than one, actually. All the fairy tale characters we met in this book had a different spin, such as the witch from Hansel and Gretel being forgetful and writing down instructions on how to cook children on candy hearts and sticking them to her walls. Even the story of Sleeping Beauty was different in execution and, of course, in resolution.

Annie was one of those “rebellious princesses” (and by “rebellious” I mean “not wanting to conform to princess rules”) but I actually quite liked the trope this time because Baker executed exactly the way it should be executed, in my opinion. Annie wasn’t rebellious for no apparent reason as many of the trope are. She wanted to do everything her sister didn’t do; thus, she could read, ride horses, etc. That’s a much better way to portray that trope then the standard.

I loved how Annie just went out and got every single prince to come kiss her sister, and I love how, after the successful one woke her up, Gwen freaked out and then, when Annie said, “He’s your true love!” she immediately switched to the prince being the love of her life. Actually, it’s a great illustration of how everyone in the kingdom is silly (because of the magic?) to some degree, and Annie is the only non-silly one (besides Liam) and thus can get stuff done that others can’t.

Oh, Liam, why couldn’t you have stayed a soldier? Why did you have to conveniently be a prince the entire time? (Well, okay, this is a fairy tale…)

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Middle Grade

Passages/Quotes:

Gwendolyn turned the tree around, revealing another, smaller key at the base of the egg. Beaming with delight, she wound the key, which made the egg spin and play a merry tune that soon had the ladies tapping their feet. This time when it stopped, the sides split in quarters, revealing a tiny object covered with precious gems.

“What is it?” said Gwendolyn.

The sides of the egg continued to lower. When they were down all the way, the object tilted to one side and tumbled out of the egg.

Gwendolyn’s hand shot out and caught the object before it hit the floor. “I have it! Look! It’s lovely. What do you think it is? Oh!” she exclaimed, looking at her hand in dismay.

“No, it can’t be!” cried the queen.

~Baker 24-25

Andreas frowned. “If you didn’t want to marry me, you shouldn’t have entered the contest.”

“It isn’t that I wouldn’t like to marry you, but my sister, Gwendolyn—”

“Princess Gwendolyn? Isn’t she supposed to be the most beautiful princess in all the kingdoms?”

“I understand how angry you must be with me, but Gwennie needs you and—”

“All she needs is one kiss? Then what happens, I mean, after I kiss her and she wakes up?”

“Why, it would mean that you were her true love, so I suppose you would get married and—”

I would marry Princess Gwendolyn? The most beautiful princess in all the kingdoms?”

“Yes, and I know that wasn’t what you had in mind, but—”

“No, no! I’d be happy to help. When do we leave?”

~Baker 127

Overall Review:

A great twist on a popular fairy-tale, with tons of fun moments and an awesome princess who can scare even the most dangerous fairies just by threatening to move in with them. The only damper was Liam, who was cute but a convenient prince.

You can buy this here: The Wide-Awake Princess