They say “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but in this case, you should. Jonny Duddle’s wonderful design says it all - a valiant but incompetent looking frog wields a ray gun while behind him alien bipods blast a fairy-tale castle to smithereens. Onlookers include a spoiled princess, a bumbling wizard and an army of alien invaders.
It seems authors will never tire of re-inventing traditional fairy-tales, and this re-telling of “The Princess and the Frog” is particularly zany and humorous.
Frog, armed with nothing more than a pair of Catastrophe Pants and his trusty stick, Basil Rathbone, is the highlight of the book. Somewhat reminiscent of Kenneth Graham’s Toad (a distant relative?), Frog is an unlikely hero - naive, self-assured and filled with his own sense of “princely-ness”. He stumbles through the book in search of adventure and his kingdom, encountering hilarious situations along the way. He assumes command of a “royal steed” (a sheep) which he names Sheriff Explosion, but the stubborn animal refuses to carry Prince Frog and has to be carried to the castle himself! What awaits there is a classic dénouement featuring a full on war with aliens. “I’m opening a shop that sells crushing defeat,” announces Frog, “and you’re my first customers!”
The language is as wacky as the characters and the plot. A dungeon is described as smelling like “a cow eating rotting broccoli out of a sack full of old witch’s farts.” This book will appeal to kids who like humour and silliness, though some of the gags are clearly aimed at “Apocalypse Now” fans – “I love the smell of burning life-forms in the morning.” It’s pantomime. And like all good panto there’s something for everyone.
Review first appeared in Inis Magazine