Vivian Vande Velde Main Page
Ages: 9 & up
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Book Description:

One should be able to say of a princess "She was as good as she was beautiful," according to The Art of Being a Princess (third revised edition), which the almost-thirteen-year-old Princess Imogene is supposed to be reading. Not feeling particularly good, or all that beautiful, she heads for a nearby pond, where she is talked into kissing a frog who claims to be a prince under enchantment. Now the princess has turned into a frog herself and must figure out a way to undo the spell--except that meanwhile she's been frog-napped by a troupe of really bad actors.


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Where do you GET those ideas?
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"The action is convincing, carried forward by dialogue and ironic good humor. A satisfying journey for fans of fractured fairy tales." -- Booklist


    • named a 2014 Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year (Folklore and Fairy Tales) 


Where do you GET those ideas?

First of all, it's always fun to turn a character into something he or she isn't expecting.

There are, of course, many variations on the idea of a prince (or princess), a frog, and a kiss, and I tried to think of a direction I hadn't seen such a story take.

There are also many books and movies about princesses.  In the oldest of these, the princess tended to be... well... as good as she was beautiful.  She also tended to get herself into trouble, at which point she'd need a brave and handsome prince to rescue her. 

Princesses today are the opposite--they are self-confident, take-charge, kick-butt princesses. 

I wanted to write about a princess who's somewhere in the middle.


The Art of Being a Princess:

The Foreword


(Are you kidding? Nobody reads the foreword)


            "One should always strive," Princess Imogene read in The Art of Being a Princess (3rd Revised Edition), "to be the sort of princess about whom it is said:  'She was as good as she was beautiful.'"

            "Ugh," Princess Imogene said.  She slammed the book shut--hating it already, based on the first sentence.  Hating the book, hating the writer, hating princesses in general, and most of all hating herself.

            She knew she was not beautiful.  Her own mother frequently assured her that one day she would be beautiful, that one day she would no longer be twelve and gawky, that one day she would fill in, blossom out, and grow into her body.

            "Grow into my body?" Imogene had once made the mistake of echoing.  "You make me sound like a tadpole or a caterpillar."

            "Or a maggot," her little brother Will helpfully suggested with all of a seven-year-old boy's eagerness and tact. 

            Their mother, who was prone to sick headaches, declared her need to lie down for a bit.

            Imogene wondered if sick headaches were something The Art of Being a Princess encouraged.  Or maybe that topic would be covered in The Art of Being a Queen.


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Authors don't normally get to see beforehand the illustrations that will be used on the covers of their books.  But thanks to the wonder of the internet, and to the fact that artist Erin McGuire has a blog, I had a rare chance to see into the illustrator's process.  For a look at some of the sketches that might have ended up being the cover of Frogged, and to see more of Erin's work, visit Erin's blog.


Frogged is dedicated to the handbell choir at St. Theodore's in Gates, NY.  Here is a picture of some of us at the church's Celebration of 40 Years of Music Ministry.


Beautiful frog pen, made by my daughter Beth, specifically for signing Frogged.



Beth also made a charm bracelet picture frame celebrating Frogged.


Close-ups :

feather from Imogene' s "messenger crow" costume, Chinese coin (to represent that Luella and Bertie believe Imogene to be a Chinese speaking frog), and a frog resting on a copy of "The Art of Being a Princess"


frog resting on Frogged


Frogged, frog in a carrying bucket, Luella's dress


See more of Beth's creations, including book-specific bookmarks, at her Etsy shop, Sparkly Something.


Visit Debbi Michiko Florence's July 16, 2013 blog
DEBtastic Reads!

for a short interview regarding Frogged.


As part of the Rochester Children's Book Festival, Princess Imogene was interviewed by author Marsha Hayles (the text incorrectly identifies the interviewer as Vivian Vande Velde).  

Read the interview.


Have I mentioned lately that I love fairy tales?


How perfect is this Princess Imogene lawn ornament, complete with crown and her very own copy of The Art of Being a Princess.