One should be able to say of a princess “She was as good as she was beautiful,” according to The Art of Being a Princess (third revised edition), which the almost-thirteen-year-old Princess Imogene is supposed to be reading. Not feeling particularly good, or all that beautiful, she heads for a nearby pond, where, unfortunately, a talking frog tricks her into kissing him. No prince appears, as one might expect. Instead, the princess turns into a frog herself! Thus launches a funny, wonderfully spun fractured fairy tale in which Imogene wonders if she will be forever frogified.
Vivian Vande Velde has written many highly acclaimed books for teen and middle-grade readers, including Three Good Deeds, Heir Apparent, Deadly Pink, and the Edgar Award– winning Never Trust a Dead Man. She lives in Rochester, New York. Visit her website at www.vivianvandevelde.com .
Read an Excerpt
The Art of Being a Princess: The Forward (Are you kidding? Nobody reads the forward)
“One should always strive,” Princess Imogene read in The Art of Being a Princess (third revised edition), “to be the sort of princess about whom it is said: ‘She was as good as she was beautiful.’” “Ugh,” Princess Imogene said. She slammed the book shut—hating it already, based on the first sentence. Hating the book, hating the writer, hating princesses in general, and most of all hating herself. She suspected she was not as good as she could be, since parents, teachers, and assorted courtiers liked to point out that she was impatient, that she had a tendency to day-dream, and that she was prone to ask “Why?” a bit more often, apparently, than was appropriate. She also knew she was not beautiful. Her own mother frequently assured her that one day she would be beautiful, that one day she would no longer be twelve and gawky, that one day she would fill in, blossom out, and grow into her body. “Grow into my body?” Imogene had once made the mistake of echoing. “You make me sound like a tadpole or a caterpillar.” “Or a maggot,” her little brother, Will, helpfully suggested with all of a seven-year-old boy’s eagerness and tact. Their mother, who was prone to sick headaches, had declared her need to lie down for a bit. Imogene wondered if sick headaches were something The Art of Being a Princess encouraged. Or maybe that topic would be covered in The Art of Being a Queen. As for future beauty, there was no way to know whether her mother’s assurances about “someday” were based on something real her mother saw in her, or if, in fact, her mother was just being a mother. So Imogene was neither as beautiful nor as good as a princess should be, and therefore she found the book infuriating. She was, however, good enough that she managed to resist her inclination to fling The Art of Being a Princess across her room. But she did toss it forcibly onto her bed, from which it bounced off, then skittered beneath. The book had been a gift from her mother, in anticipation of Imogene’s thirteenth birthday in another two weeks. “If you start today and read a chapter a day,” her mother had said this morning, with such bright optimism that Imogene couldn’t help but suspect it had been practiced, “you’ll have it finished the day before your birthday, and you’ll be all ready.” Ready. Meaning ready to be the sort of princess who didn’t drop things, spill things, or trip over things. The sort of princess who always knew what to say and when not to say anything. The sort of princess who wasn’t an embarrassment to her royal parents. Imogene couldn’t imagine why her mother thought two weeks of reading would prepare her to be a proper princess when twelve years, eleven months, two weeks, and half a morning hadn’t. But her mother had looked so enthusiastic about the gift, so pleased with herself, so hopeful, that Imogene hadn’t wanted to hurt her feelings. So she’d pretended interest by opening The Art of Being a Princess and looking over the table of contents. “Well,” she’d said, forcing a little laugh, trying to find the humor in the situation, “twelve chapters in thirteen days: at least I get a day off for good behavior.” For a moment, her mother looked puzzled. Her expression moved close to the one that often came right before she announced having one of her headaches. Then she’d said, “The foreword, dear. Don’t forget the foreword.” Ahh. The foreword. Imogene generally skipped over books’ forewords, which were most often full of stuff too boring to put into the book itself, things like “This is the history of the entire known universe up until now . . .” And “These are the reasons why this book will be Good for You . . .” And “Thank you to my parents and my grandparents and my great-grandparents and my uncles and aunts and cousins and teachers and neighbors and the little girl who sat two rows over from me in the third grade . . .” Maybe, Imogene thought, she could skip over the boring bits. Mothers are legendary for being able to read the thoughts of their children at just the wrong moment. “You can read the foreword and then each chapter, one a day, in the morning, and then we can meet in the solarium for lunch together, just the two of us, and we can discuss any questions you might have.” “Wow,” Imogene said. “That sounds like . . .” She couldn’t come up with any word besides torture, and she knew better than to say that. She pasted a smile onto her face and nodded. Apparently her mother’s mind-reading ability had faded out by then. Either that or she, too, knew when not to say anything. In any case, she had leaned forward and given an air kiss in the vicinity of Imogene’s cheek, then motioned one of her ladies in waiting to come over to discuss something-or-other, and Imogene had gone to her room. First, Imogene had worked on the picture she’d been drawing for the past week. It was the view out of her window: the castle courtyard, the stables across the way, the wall that surrounded the castle, the moat beyond, the trees forming the edge of the forest, the stream that came down from the hills that showed way off in the distance. The more she fiddled with the picture, the less pleased she was with her results, so she gave it up for fear she’d do something to ruin the whole thing. Next she worked a bit on the dragon she was embroidering in the corner of a handkerchief for her brother, Will—embroidery being one of those princessly pursuits everyone seemed to favor and that Imogene actually enjoyed. Besides, Will, despite being a prince, was also a seven-year-old, and he really could use a handkerchief more often than he did. But today the thread seemed inclined to knot and break, and Imogene realized for the first time in a long while that she didn’t so much enjoy doing the stitchery as having finished a project. After that she found a chunk of bread in the pocket of the dress she’d been wearing yesterday, bread she’d intended to give to the wainwright’s boy, who looked as though he didn’t get enough to eat. But the bread had gone stale and had bits of lint stuck on it, so she decided to get another piece at lunch and meanwhile broke this one up and spread the crumbs out on the windowsill for the birds. Apparently the birds weren’t interested today. Imogene even considered taking a nap, except she really wasn’t tired. Which was how she came to be reading The Art of Being a Princess—the foreword. Which started with that stupid line about how a princess should strive to be as good as she was beautiful. “A princess can’t help what she is or what she looks like,” Imogene grumbled out loud to the book, as she fetched it back out from under the bed. Her hair, which she believed had more of a tendency to get mussed and tangled than anybody else’s, got mussed and tangled. She opened the book once more and thumbed through the pages. Her eye skimmed over paragraphs about girls with beautiful and elegant names, names like sylvianna and lilybelle and esmeralda, and adorabella. Imogene had been named after her grandmothers, both of whom she loved dearly. They were two perfectly lovely ladies—who had perfectly awful names. Grandmother Imogene was her father’s mother, who had been named after her grandmother, so the name had already been almost a hundred years old-fashioned by the time Princess Imogene got it. And her mother’s mother was Eustacia—who admitted she had no idea what her own parents were thinking when they named her. It was a sad state of affairs, Princess Imogene Eustacia Wellington thought, when Imogene was the better of the two names you had to choose from. Still, it was getting close to lunchtime, and it was no good saying this was a dull book told in a preachy, annoying style and that she wouldn’t learn anything from it, but only be made to feel even more inadequate than she already did. So Imogene read the foreword, whose best quality was that it wasn’t really as long as it seemed to be. On her way to the solarium, Imogene worked out three things she could say, because she knew how discussions with her mother went. The queen would ask, as though it were a conversation, not a test, “Now, Imogene, tell me something you learned from your reading . . . Umm-hmm, and was there anything else . . . ? Very nice. And was that all?” So Imogene would tell her:
1. A princess should be as good as she is beautiful. 2. Being a princess is a duty and an honor. 3.
Hmm . . .
Well . . .
3. A princess . . .
No . . .
Sigh. It had been such a boring foreword, and the thoughts on the page had already evaporated from her mind. Imogene wondered if her mother would be paying enough attention to notice if Imogene reworked number 1. Then it could be
1. A princess should be as good as she is beautiful. 2. Being a princess is a duty and an honor. 3. A princess should be as beautiful as she is good.
No. No matter how positive Imogene tried to be about her chances, she knew she probably wouldn’t get away with that. All right, then. She would divide number 2.
1. A princess should be as good as she is beautiful. 2. Being a princess is a duty. 3. Being a princess is an honor.
All right, then. Imogene marched into the solarium and saw one of the ladies in waiting, not her mother. “Oh, Princess Imogene,” the lady said. “Your mother had to settle a dispute between two of the village women. She offers her apologies for disappointing you and said to assure you that she’ll be happy to discuss two chapters with you tomorrow.” All that for nothing. “Rats,” Imogene said. She was fairly certain that The Art of Being a Princess would disapprove.
Chapter 1 A Princess Is Always Kind and Helpful (Okay, but that doesn’t mean she needs to let people walk all over her)
Princess Imogene considered going to her room to write down the three things she had learned from the foreword while she still remembered them. That would be what a good princess would do, she told herself. Then she told herself: Fortunate thing for me that I’m only as good as I’m beautiful. Anyway, truly good and beautiful princesses could no doubt remember such things without having to take notes. They probably knew them without having to read them. So, instead, Imogene headed toward the mill pond, which was her favorite relaxing place. She guessed that The Art of Being a Princess (third revised edition) probably had a whole chapter against princesses at mill ponds. There were ducks and a pair of swans in the water, but they seemed to have an uncanny ability to know when she did—and when she did not—have bread in her pockets. Imogene sat on the grassy bank and watched her fickle feathered friends gliding through the water. Nobody has expectations for you, she thought. Lucky things. The sun was warm enough to make her comfortably drowsy, and she decided to lie down, even though her mother would fuss about grass stains. Imogene herself had low standards when it came to grass stains. Lying on her back made it easier to study the clouds drifting in the sky and to try to find ducks and geese and swans in them to mirror those in the water. But the best she could come up with was a shape that, sort of, looked like the back end of a dog, and another that could be a three-legged cow—if she tipped her head and squinted a bit. From somewhere surprisingly close—surprising because she had not heard anyone approach—a small but gruff voice called: “Princess! Hey, Princess!” Guiltily, Imogene jumped to her feet, convinced she was about to get reprimanded for lying down on the grass. But by whom? it was a male voice, and experience told her that most males—including her father—didn’t seem as interested as the females of her acquaintance in what was and what was not proper princess-like behavior. Besides, this voice, despite being a bit gravelly, struck her as being somewhere between that of a child and that of an adult, so she expected to see someone close to her own age. Except she saw no one. “Hey!” the voice repeated. “Hey, Princess!” The voice tickled at the edge of her memory, but she couldn’t quite place it. And it struck her as being . . . Well . . . A bit rude, even for a princess with low standards. “Who are you?” she asked. “Where are you?” “Here,” the voice answered, zeroing in on the second question first. “Near your feet.” Near her feet was the tall grass and weeds at the water’s edge, but that was indeed where the voice seemed to be coming from. Had someone swum across the pond? except . . . The water here was too shallow—and too clogged with marsh weeds—to hide a person. For a moment, her mind skittered to the ducks and swans, as though one of them had somehow gained the ability to speak—and to inquire why she hadn’t brought food. It was this momentary mental openness to a smaller-than-human speaker that made her notice the frog.
Frogged 4.2 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
What a cute little fairy tale! I loved this sweet little book. It made me laugh more than twice, and I adored the adventure that Imogene and Luella got swept away in. And I loved the solution they come up with to change Imogene's frogged state. Kids in the intended age range (9 and up) will enjoy this story.
The one thing that I did find weird were the chapter headings. They were written in what felt like a first person voice, but the book was written in third person.
More than 1 year ago
Looking for a fun, new adventure loosely based on a classic fairy tale? FROGGED might be just the book for you. In an E.D.Baker/Disney-esque spin, kissing a frog has a way of rebounding and turning oneself into a frog. Unlike the former two, however, the frog turns back into a human, leaving his savior as a frog in his place. Harry is no prince, either, but a wainwright’s son. He doesn’t care that he’s turned the royal princess into a frog, either. He’s from a poor family overrun with kids. Why shouldn’t he have a little luck, too?
Our plucky princess, Imogene, refuses to curse another human into frog form in order to save herself. Instead, she sets off to find the witch who cursed Harry, only to find that it can’t be undone. Imogene will remain a frog unless she can get someone else to kiss her and transfer the enchantment. As she tries to make her way home, she’s captured by a couple of teenagers named Luella and Bertie, who are running away to be actors and want to add a talking frog to their act. Imogene has no way out, especially when the troupe’s owner realizes that Imogene is who she says but doesn’t care, so long as a talking frog brings in the money. Will Imogene ever find a way to return home and become a human frog again?
FROGGED is great for middle-grade readers and will appeal to children as they follow Imogene on her journey. There are a couple of small adult elements slipped in, but they’re done in a way that kids won’t notice or wonder about, but adults will pick up on. They can relate to Imogene, who doesn’t want to read about a stuff book about how to be a princess that her mother’s making her study. They’ll feel bad when, only trying to help, she’s forced to give her first kiss away to a frog, who turns out to be a mean boy. They’ll feel as mad as Imogene does when she’s tricked, handfed lies, and held against her will. FROGGED is a fun, light read about a princess forced to masquerade as a frog after being caught up in an unfortunate curse.
More than 1 year ago
This book is ok. It is not the best bopk i have ever read and i have read a lot f books. If u really want to read a good book, read harry potter or percy jackson or the hunger games. Thous are some really good books.
More than 1 year ago
The deal is off. To renegociate, go to ppp res one.
More than 1 year ago
K. Or my fake club called C.O.S.M.A.P., at Hatchet result six.
More than 1 year ago
Fairy Tales are just one of those topics that never goes out of style and can sometimes be hard to take something old and put a new spin on it. I loved this book and how it was written and the story within it. It shows us it is okay to be rich or a princess, but no matter who we are it is important to remember we are all humans, with the same feelings, and we need to remember that because that is the human thing to do.
“No! My loyalty to my king and my country means more to me than your filthy gold or your vile threats! You may go ahead and rip my body asunder- I shall not betray my liege lord!”
Princess Imogene comes across a frog who tells her he is a prince and with one kiss will become human again. Imogene isn’t a bad girl really and gives the frog a kiss. However, she becomes a frog instead and when she tries to get turned back into a princess she is kidnapped and forced to work at a traveling theater all the while trying to find a way home but no one seems to believe who she is and thinks it’s all just part of the act.
You can learn a good lesson from this book and have a nice dreamy read at the same time. The cover is so pretty too and I would recommend this book!
*This book was provided in exchange for an honest review*
*You can view the original review at Musing with Crayolakym and San Francisco & Sacramento City Book Review
More than 1 year ago
Its bree and im ready to chat
More than 1 year ago
More than 1 year ago
More than 1 year ago
More than 1 year ago
Junkk with to k and the 4 one is for single peoplwpe and the 5 one is for couples i think just search the first pages of books
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