Verdict: This is a delightful retelling of a well-known fairy tale that relays a moral point without being dramatically preachy.
As many learned from Gregory Maguire’s book, Wicked, there are often two sides to every story. The Golden Ball: The Fairy Tale of the Frog Prince and Why the Princess Kissed Him, explains this one from the frog’s point of view.
I have to admit, I don’t find a lot of children’s books written in iambic tetrameter that can not only maintain the rhyme scheme without fault throughout the book, but that can also do it without having to overextend themselves to reach for a word. I’ve read books written in rhyme that had to rely on truly awkward sentence structures or archaic words in order to maintain the meter. Sinclair’s story line and language are absolutely flawless.
At first, I felt like the text may have been too lengthy for the book as you rarely find such small font and as many as one hundred words per page in children’s picture books. As I was pulled into the story about the princess and the frog, however, I found myself wondering what kind of audience this book would be appropriate for.
It finally occurred to me that children who are still young enough to want a fairy tale picture book—one with charming illustrations such as this—but are just on the brink of being ready to tackle a chapter book would love the reading level and story line in The Golden Ball. Theirs is an unloved market, too, as so many books that try to bridge that gap are somewhat vapid stories with very choppy read-aloud text. But Sinclair’s book is not at all condescending and will even give some young readers a few higher-level vocabulary words to chew on.
If I had to criticize the story, I do wish the princess had suffered a little more for her earlier cruelty. The author let her off the hook way too easily following the reluctant kiss, as the frog-turned-prince was too quick to forgive for a book that worked so hard to send a message to the readers. I would really have enjoyed a modern take on this story in which the prince leaves the princess hanging at the end for her selfishness and prejudice against frogs, even talking ones.
Reviewed by Mercy Pilkington for IndieReader
Purchase The Golden Ball: The Fairy Tale of the Frog Prince and Why the Princess Kissed Him from Amazon