Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review: KISS ME! (I'M A PRINCE!) by Heather McLeod

McLeod, Heather. Kiss Me! (I’m a Prince!). Illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan. Ontario: Fitzhenry, 2011. ISBN 978-1-55455-161-3. $18.95.

Kiss Me! (I’m a Prince!) breathes new life into a familiar fairy tale. No doubt the children who read this book and whoever reads along with them will be familiar with the standard fairy tale fixture, a prince who has been turned into a frog. But McLeod and her illustrator, Kerrigan, signal a departure from the familiar storyline as soon as the book is opened.

The story begins with a familiar request by the frog prince—he needs a kiss in order to be restored to his human form. The girl he asks for that kiss, however, is anything but conventional. Ella, wearing a baseball cap backwards and an old pair of sneakers, is not interested in kissing. She just wants to play with the talking frog. He, however, points out how “unseemly” it is to play and get dirty. Life at his palace is all about education and etiquette. As soon as Ella teaches the frog prince the joyin being children, they spend many happy days swimming in the pond andplaying hopscotch.

That is, until the day a courtier from the frog prince’s palace comes to take him back home. He does not stay away, however. Two weeks later, he returns to Ella’s and tells her that although he received many kisses while at his castle, none was able to restore him to his former self. What he really needs is a kiss from a true friend. Ella asks whether he really wants to be a prince again, since he will be stuck again in his old stuffy existence. His parents, the frog prince explains, have agreed to give him time every day to play. With this good news, Ella kisses her frog friend, and they play happily ever after.

One of my favorite aspects of this version of the fairy tale is its shift in emphasis from marriage to friendship. Young children typically do not desire to find their one true love. They desire friendship and play. McLeod taps into the inclinations of her young readers. The beautiful watercolors and often-humorous visuals add to this book’s considerable charm.

Kira Hall

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