"I do not kiss frogs!" my daughter proclaimed with her arms crossed, looking at her younger brother. He was most relieved, and then skipped away to do "boy" things. This catch phrase became ever-so-popular in our home after watching Disney's The Princess and the Frog, adapted from E.D. Baker's young adult novel, The Frog Princess, which was inspired by the Grimm Brothers' fairy tale The Frog Prince.
Royalty crossing paths with amphibians. What's so curious about that? The original fairytale reveals how a princess tricks a frog into retrieving her golden ball that fell into a spring of water by agreeing to love the frog and to provide him with food and shelter. After the frog brings her the golden ball, she turns and runs, forgetting her promise. The frog finds her, and she reluctantly fulfills her promise (after her father tells her to) and after three nights, the frog's spell is broken, and he turns into a handsome prince.
But it is from Baker's novel that Disney's Tiana (an ordinary girl with dreams) and Prince Naveen (who's broke and needs to marry royalty to maintain his lifestyle) and their adventures take off.
The enchanted princes in these tales persuade the young girls to kiss him so that he can turn back into a handsome prince. Reluctant at first, they eventually agree by the promised rewards (like Grimm's princess wanting her golden ball). But it is in these two tales, that the magic spell can't be reversed, and instead turns the girls into a frog too! Needless to say, they shouldn't have been so easily persuaded right?
Disney's version, set in New Orleans in the roaring 20s, speaks to the hearts of ordinary young girls everywhere who dream big but feel lost in the every day hard work. We quickly fall in love with Tiana's character and her eagerness to be self-sufficient and accomplish her goals, rather than wait for "prince charming." But it is in her desperation to reach her dreams that fate steps in.
Both Disney and Baker's versions embark on an epic adventure through the swamplands, as the "frogs" learn more about themselves, each other, and that dreams are only worth having when you have someone you truly love to share them with. They fall in love, seek help from more magical sources, and return to being human again -- or respectfully, a prince and princess.
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