Children's Literature - Kristine Kienle
As the younger daughter of Queen Olivene, the Green Witch of Greater Greensward, Grassina sits in the shadow of her older sister Chartreuse. Queen Olivene has magical powers and great responsibility as the protector of her kingdom. When she can no longer perform her duties, tradition holds that the eldest daughter must take the reigns. Chartreuse, however, has trouble learning magic, which frustrates her fifteen-year-old younger sibling to no end. The two sisters do not get along well, but they must work together when their mother is cursed after touching a flower and starts using her magic for evil. Bad things start happening in Greater Greensward without the Green Witch's protection. Chartreuse continues to attempt to learn magic while her mother demands daunting, nearly impossible tasks of her and Grassina. One day, after Chartreuse insults Grassina by accusing her of jealousy and murderous intentions, Grassina runs deep into the forest to explore. She brings her friend Pippa the snake to the swamp with her, where she meets Haywood, a young boy who lives by himself on an island in the swamp. As a team, Grassina, Haywood, and Pippa must work to overcome many obstacles in the swamp and at the castle. Grassina learns a lot through her family experiences and adventures in the swamp. This dynamic and round character matures through her triumphssuch as saving the kingdom from werewolves with her newfound power, and through her tribulations, including dealing with her jealous sister, a death in the family, and resisting an overpowering mother. This humorous novel teaches teamwork, selflessness, and friendship as the characters, especially Grassina and Chartreuse, develop and realizetheir full potential. Reviewer: Kristine Kienle
VOYA - Beth E. Andersen
In Baker's prequel to her four-part series, The Tales of the Frog Princess, which features Emeralda, readers are treated to the backstory of Emeralda's Aunt Grassina. Older sister Princess Chartreuse is infuriated by her failed efforts to get with the magic program and become the next Green Witch of the Greater Greensward kingdom. Grassina cannot keep a profile low enough to stay out of Chartreuse's rages. When the girls' father inadvertently turns his wife, Queen Olivene, the current Green Witch, into a cruel hag, tragedy befalls the castle. Chartreuse and Olivene heap ever-more abuse on Grassina who rescues Pippa, a wounded snake, and flees to a nearby island. There she meets Haywood, a young boy wizard who is drawn to Grassina's plucky resourcefulness. Just in time, they realize that Grassina has the gift of magic and is pegged to be the next Green Witch. They learn to use her fledgling gifts to ward off attacks from werewolves and an evil manticore, thus saving the kingdom and allowing Grassina to claim her rightful place as the anointed Green Witch. Baker throws a lot into this book-amusing smatterings of light humor, a fairly intense gore factor (beheadings and the bone-crunching demise of several creatures), and an increasingly gooey romantic element toward the end between Haywood and Grassina, which might be too much for her targeted audience. Nevertheless it is a popular series, so buy accordingly.
School Library Journal
A prequel to The Frog Princess (Bloomsbury, 2003) and the fifth book in the series, this novel features a young Princess Grassina and her family. Her mother, Queen Olivene, the Green Witch, is grooming Grassina's older sister to inherit this title while ignoring Grassina's interest in magic and potential talent. The girls' rivalry and the entire kingdom are turned upside down when their father innocently brings their mother flowers, invoking a curse that changes her into an ugly hag. The queen's gleeful and perplexing antics provide some humor in this story but her disinterest in taking care of her realm threatens the safety of Greater Greensward, leads to the death of the king, and forces Grassina to undertake a quest. This tale satisfyingly explains much of the history behind the other books and gives insight into one of the more interesting characters in The Frog Princess . It continues the evolution of the series from a simple retelling of a well-known fairy tale into an entertaining saga featuring a fully developed magical world of its own.
Kathleen MeulenCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.