"ONCE UPON A TIME"
Young, beautiful, and wealthy, Emma Pennington is accustomed to a very comfortable life. Although war rages abroad, she hardly feels its effect. She and her mother travel from their home in Britain to the family estate in Belgium, never imagining that the war could reach them there. But it does.
Soon Emma finds herself stranded in a war-torn country, utterly alone. Enemy troops fight to take over her estate, leaving her with no way to reach her family, and no way out.
With all of her attention focused on survival and escape, Emma hardly expects to find love. But the war will teach her that life is unpredictable, people aren't always what they seem, and magic is lurking everywhere.
Gr 5 Up-Setting this retelling of "The Frog Prince" in World War I Belgium is an interesting idea that didn't work out very well. Emma, a British citizen, is stranded on her family's estate after her mother is killed by a bomb. Their home is requisitioned as a garrison for the German army. To compound her trauma, her fiance has broken off their engagement and, in a fit of pique, Emma throws the golden ball-shaped locket with his photo into the well-an action she immediately regrets. When she tries to retrieve it, she discovers an American who's been fighting with British forces hiding in the water in an attempt to counter the effects of a gas attack. He's a good swimmer, his skin is blistered, and his eyes are bulging and swollen from the gas. As soon as he is able to see Emma, he wants her to kiss him. Readers are meant to understand that he is the frog prince. All that might plausibly be worked into a satisfying historical novel cum fantasy, but when Weyn overburdens the narrative with the "frog's" complicated Louisiana mixed-race backstory involving Natchez magic, a history as a runaway, a stint in the merchant marines, and more, the narrative sinks under the weight. In this case, less would be more.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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October 23, 2006
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