A Very Unfroglike Frog (Who Made My Daughter Cry)

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One of the books I gave my twins last week for their 8th birthday was Donna Jo Napoli’s The Prince of the Pond, a middle grade novel. This retelling of “The Frog Prince” fairy tale features a very unfroglike frog.

The Prince of the PondFor starters, he has given himself a name, which his amphibious female companion has never known a frog to do before.

He knows nothing about how typical green frogs behave because, well, he was originally a human prince. Now, unable to adjust to his long and sticky tongue, he is “the fawg pin,” which is the closest he’s able to come to saying “the frog prince.”

His female companion diligently teaches him how to be a frog, while he teaches her how to be a “fawg.”

Part of being a “fawg” involves raising their offspring, which is “unfroglike.” As his astute other half tells him:

This attitude is not froglike. Frogs lay eggs. Then they leave. Insects come. Snakes and toads and bullfrogs come. Everything eats the eggs. And everything eats the tadpoles. It doesn’t matter what happens to them. They’re on their own.

Pin’s tadpoles, however, are not on their own. Parenting is an unusual trait for green frogs, but as I’ve learned from the Internet, it’s not such an unusual trait for other species of frogs.

According to Smithsonian.com:

However, in Napoli’s story, the human-born Pin does far more to protect his young from snakes, toads, and bullfrogs than any real-life frog would do. This overprotective parenting style results in a generation of “fawgs” who don’t know how to fend for themselves–which is fine, as long as Pin is around to protect them.

Which leads us to the part of the story that broke my daughter’s heart (spoiler alert):

Pin isn’t around forever. No parent is.

The Prince of the Pond is a poignant retelling of a well-known fairy tale, one that’s worth reading.  However, it was not the best birthday gift for my soft-hearted 8-year-old (pictured below). I wish I had known that before giving it to her.


IMG_6054*This novel is part of a trilogy, but no one in my family has read the other two books: Jimmy the Pickpocket of the Palace and Gracie the Pixie of the Puddle.

**For more on devoted amphibian dads, see the Exploratorium’s Parenting, Frog Style. However, before we feel all lovey-dovey for daddy frogs, there’s this: Overzealous Male Frogs Practice a Practical Sort of Necrophilia. Nature is fascinating.


    1. It really is a good book. My daughter’s reaction to it reminded me of the way I reacted to Where the Red Fern Grows when I was in 7th grade. That book stayed with me, and I wouldn’t be surprised if The Prince of the Pond stays with her.

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