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Children's Literature Reviews
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The frog princess : a Russian folktale
retold by J. Patrick Lewis ; paintings by Gennady Spirin.
New York : Dial Books , c1994.
32 p. : col. ill. ; 31 cm.

Annotations:

Forced to marry an ugly frog, the youngest son of the Tsar is astounded to learn that the frog is really the beautiful princess Vasilisa the Wise.

Best Books:

Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for PreK-Grade 6, 1997 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, July 1994 ; Cahners; United States

Reviews:

Kay Weisman (Booklist, September 15, 1994 (Vol. 91, No. 2))
Commanded by their father the czar to marry, three princes shoot their arrows into the heart of Russia in order to seek wives. One arrow is discovered by the daughter of a merchant, one by the daughter of a nobleman, but Prince Ivan's is found by a frog. After the weddings, the czar tries to determine which of his daughters-in-law is the cleverest. Ivan is ashamed of his amphibian spouse (who is in reality the beautiful but enchanted Vasilisa the Wise), but she always proves herself the smartest. When Ivan burns her discarded frog skin in an attempt to keep her in her human form, he disrupts the spell and almost loses her completely. Although Lewis cites no sources, his version of this complex Russian folktale is similar to others, most notably Elizabeth Isele's The Frog Princess (1984), illustrated by Michael Hague. Spirin's elegant watercolor illustrations complement the stately tone of the text, and the decorative borders framing most of the paintings add to the book's appeal. A worthwhile addition to the folklore shelf, especially for libraries attempting to provide multiple versions. Category: For the Young. 1994, Dial, $15.99 and $15.89. Ages 5-8.

Debra Briatico (Children's Literature)
In this retelling of a Russian folktale, a tsar orders his three bachelor sons to shoot arrows as far as they can and whoever finds the arrows will become their brides. The youngest son, Prince Ivan, shoots his arrow into a swamp and it ends up in the mouth of a frog. Adhering to his father's wishes, Prince Ivan marries the frog, who ends up becoming the most clever daughter-in-law. One night, when the king holds a grand ball, the frog turns into Vasilisa the Wise, a beautiful young lady trapped by her father's spell. Excited by his wife's transformation, Prince Ivan throws away the ugly frog skin, not knowing that his hasty task would doom his wife to a terrible future. When she discovers that her skin has been discarded, Vasilisa turns into a swan and disappears. Distraught by her disappearance, Prince Ivan searches for her. After two years of searching, he uses the help of an old man and Baba Yaga to find his bride in the evil clutches of Koshchei the Invincible. When he reaches the kingdom beyond Blue Kingdoms, he kills the evil tsar and takes Vasilisa back to his father's kingdom, where they end up living happily ever after. This truly mesmerizing tale is accented by rich paintings and borders that contain extraordinary detail and luxurious embellishments. 1994, Dial Books, $15.99. Ages All.

Dr. Judy Rowen (Children's Literature)
Three princes shoot arrows into the sky--they will marry whomever retrieves the arrow. Prince Ivan is chagrined to learn that his arrow has landed beside a frog. However, his disappointment turns to delight when his bride proves her worth to him. Of course, she is actually an enchanted princess, and Prince Ivan must undertake a quest to free her from the spell. The exquisitely detailed paintings were created by a Russian artist, and contain many Russian motifs. 1994, Dial, $15.99 and $15.89. Ages 7 to 12.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1994)
A prince marries a frog -- it's a long story. It so happens that this croaker princess can outsew, outcook, and outdance the other court princesses, but only when she slips from her skin to become the beautiful Vasilia the Wise (a trick she performs when no one is watching, like Superman). Unfortunately, her husband the prince happens across her frog togs one night while she is in her Vasilia mode and burns the unwanted exterior so that his wife will remain forever radiant, Bad mistake. It turns out that Vasilia had a mere three days left to fulfill a curse her sinister father cast on her, yet now, without her skins, she will never see the prince again unless he can find her in the Kingdom beyond Blue Kingdoms. It is a long, mean search (including the obligatory visit to Baba Yaga; these days you can't throw a brick without hitting Baba Yaga in one form or another). Eventually, the prince succeeds in wresting Vasilia from the evil one. A nice gender twist on an old tale, paced to keep things moving. Spirin's illustrations command attention with detailing worthy of Faberg‚ although their fussiness can cause a visual overload. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russian tales have been thick on the ground, some better than others. This one is worth a look. 1994, Dial, $15.99; PLB $15.89. © 1994 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Spirin's ( The Children of Lir ) sumptuous art is reason alone to celebrate this volume, but the text is every bit as rich. Working from a Russian folktale, Lewis ( A Hippopotomusn't ) fashions a complex story out of a multitude of fairy-tale elements. A czar commands each of his three sons to shoot an arrow into the woods and marry the woman who retrieves it; while the elder brothers find important, wealthy maidens, Ivan, the youngest, is forced to marry a small frog. But Ivan's bride soon reveals herself to be Vasilisa the Wise, under a curse from her evil father. Determined to keep her in human form, Ivan burns her frog skin. As a result she is transformed into a swan and flies off to a Kingdom beyond Blue Kingdoms, from which Ivan must rescue her. Her perilous journey, during which she is aided by such unlikely creatures as a bear, a falcon, a pike and the infamous Baba Yaga, forms the second half of the narrative. Lewis, admirably, summons enough flair to link the numerous motifs. Spirin's minutely detailed portraits adorn each page, highlighting every flounce, every furbelow of the characters' court clothing; and he frames boxes of text with full-bleed paintings that resemble embroidered and bejeweled fabrics. That Spirin can use four-color art to create the effect of lustrous gold ink is further proof that he has the talents of an alchemist. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

Subjects:

Fairy tales.
Folklore--Russia.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ8.L48116 Fr 1994
93010827 398.21
E
0803716230 (trade)
0803716249 (lib. bdg.)
9780803716230
9780803716247
9780803716230
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