Common Sense Media says

Kids may need help jumping into clever frog-prince tale.





What parents need to know

Educational value

This is a fun book that allows kids to make all sorts of word combinations. See our "Families Can Talk About" section for some ideas for using this book.

Positive messages

Encourages creativity, spelling -- and, as the frog learns, the importance of reading the fine print!

Positive role models

Readers will find it easy to root for the small green frog, who is full of wishes and dreams.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know wthat this book is very clever, maybe too clever for younger readers.  Also the slightly risque drawings of the prince, and the chant that makes him appear ("Bim Bam Barebum") may be more appropriate for older kids. 

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

The small green frog is full of wishes and dreams. One day he finds a book of spells, and tries to cast all sorts of magic words into the caldron, hoping to become a handsome prince and kiss the princess. Different combinations have different results, until finally he gets his wish ... for a moment. Unfortunately for him, a simple twist at the end brings him back to reality.

Is it any good?


This rather quirky story might be called a fractured fairytale, a playful twist on the story of the frog and the princess, and it is cleverly told. This time the story is told from the frog's point of view, and it doesn't turn out all that well for him. The format is as clever as the tale. Once the frog starts putting together his spells from the torn-up pages of the spell book, the pages of the actual book are cut in half.  On one side, the spell has been divided in two so the reader can make it start and end in a variety of ways. The top half of the other side shows the head of the creature the frog becomes, the bottom his bottom. This gives the frog, and the reader, all sorts of possible combinations that are silly and not quite what the frog is hoping for. 

The format is fun and unique and meant for someone comfortable with reading and following what is going on. However, it may be rather confusing for some kids, especially for  a younger reader trying the book out on his or her own.  Also, the twist at the end, written in small print and located on the very last page, might be missed altogether.

As befitting the book, the illustrations are truly eerie, a bit mysterious, and definitely magical. The animals are especially fantastic. Subtle tones are set against black paper, and created by pencil, watercolors, shredded paper and a bit of glitter.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the unusual art. Why are the pages cut in half? Which part of the frog changes first? How many different ways can you turn the pages? How does that change the story?

  • As they flip through the various pages, parents and kids might talk about what creature they think the frog will turn into next.  How do the words of the spell tell you what might be coming?

  • How is this story different from other fairy tales about the princess and the frog?

Book details

Author:Emily Gravett
Illustrator:Emily Gravett
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:October 6, 2009
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 8
Read aloud:5
Read alone:7

This review of Spells was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byNida Sundrani April 16, 2010
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 9 year old Written byPatrick.L January 26, 2010

Pretty good for bed time story

Pretty good for bed time story
What other families should know
Great role models


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