Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Spells Book Poster Image
Kids may need help jumping into clever frog-prince tale.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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 & Representations

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

Violence & Scariness

What 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. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9-year-old Written byPatrick.L January 26, 2010

Pretty good for bed time story

Pretty good for bed time story
Teen, 14 years old Written byNida Sundrani April 16, 2010

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.

Talk to your kids 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

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