- Frogged by Vivian Vande Velde
Princess Imogene doesn't want to be the perfect princess her mother wishes her to be, but she also didn't want to become a frog. Nonetheless, frog she now is, after being tricked into a spell-conveying kiss, and the only way to rid herself of the spell is the same way she got it—by transferring it to another person, something her moral sense will not allow. Her attempts to seek help returning home meet with one disaster after another, until she finds herself with a traveling acting troupe whose leader is determined to make money off Imogene. Fortunately, Luella, a village girl, agrees to take Imogene back home, where Imogene finds a solution to her problems as well as a welcome surprise. Vande Velde writes with the crisp diction of a practiced storyteller who knows her text will likely be read aloud; while writing in third person, she nevertheless manages to capture the mannered, wide-eyed style so appealing to preteens as it comes close to their own storytelling voice. Imogene's distress is therefore rendered with a measure of humor, determination, and bravado even as her predicaments move from bad to worse. Equally appealing to readers is the fact that the situations she finds herself in are not a result of any bad acts on her part; that is, she always tries to do the right, sensible thing, and it turns out wrong through no fault of her own, leaving her feeling righteously affronted but never defeated. Imogene's pragmatic feistiness thus makes her an admirable heroine, who falls upon hard times but ultimately gets her just reward, and who doesn't like that?