"The Frog Prince." Tales from Grimm. Translated and illustrated by Wanda Gag. New York: Coward-McCann, Inc., 1936

 Ethnic Origin: German

Running Time: 10- 12 min.

Power Center(s):






Henry/Heinrich (not in all variants)


Well pond


Princess’s bedchambers


A young princess drops her ball in a well pond. A prince, bewitched into taking the form of a frog, offers to retrieve the ball, if the princess become his playmate, share her plate, cup and bed with him. The princess agrees, never intending t keep her promise. But the frog shows up at the castle, and the princess is forced to keep her part of the bargain. Prince is eventually restored to his human form, and the two marry.

Rhymes/Special Phrases/Flavor:

"Youngest daughter of the King

Open the door for me

Mind your words at the old well spring

Open the door for me."


Why is story appropriate for the audience?)

This story is appropriate for a school age audience, because it reinforces positive traits and doesn’t violate any of Marie Shedlock’s imperatives. It avoids too much satire, it is not of sentimental character, the story should fall within the plane of interest of a school age group, and this certainly will not appeal to a child’s "priggishness." We have taken care to avoid "infant piety and death bed scenes." It reinforces positive traits: determination of the frog, the honor of the king and the princess deciding to "do the right thing." We have included those elements which Shedlock encourages: elements of the unusual (talking frog), elements of love and beauty, and this would encourage "kinship with animals." Consulting Charlotte Huck’s Children’s Literature in the Elementary School, we find that this age group is capable of "flexible and reversible thought, appreciates imaginary adventures . . ." This seems to fill the bill nicely. Plus, it’s just a fun story. (Well, it can be if told right. . .)

Source(s) recommending it as good for storytelling:

Storytelling, Art and Technique by Ellin Greene.

Storyteller’s Start Up Book by Margaret Read MacDonald.

Bibliographic information on other variants (at least two):

The Enchanted Book. ed. Alice Dalgliesh, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1947

The Frog Prince. Adapted by Paul Galdone. NY: Mcgraw-Hill, 1975

Brief comparison of all versions/variants in terms of language, rhythm, "tellability", flavor", content, etc. Stress the differences in style rather than those of content.

What strikes me first is the difference in the rhyme of the frog. Gag’s version is on page 1 of this paper, the other versions are:

Dalgliesh -       "Open the door my princess dear

                        Open the door to thy true love here!

                        And mind the words that thou and I said

                        By the fountain cool, in the greenwood shade."

Galdone -        "Youngest King’s daughter

                        Open to me!

                        By the well water

                        What you promised me?

                        Now open to me."

AS we can see by the rhyme, Galdone’s adaptation is more modern in tone, the language is more spare. Galdone’s is the most modern of the three variants, and he somewhat captures the turmoil of the princess, but his ending just sort of fades off. Gag’s version is the one with the richest language, and also the one which best presents the emotional upheaval of the princess. Dalgliesh’s adaptation is also able to show the consternation of the princess, however, she makes the princess seem a little too petulant and shallow.

In the case of the heartbroken servant, Gag’s version doesn’t mention him at all. Galdone’s tale mentions Heinrich, who is overjoyed to see the prince again, but she goes no further in explaining who the manservant is, or why he is important. Only Galdone’s book explains Henry, the manservant, who in his grief over losing the prince has bound his heart with three metal bands, which pop off as he joyfully greets his prince again.

All three adapters treat the marriage of the prince and princess differently. In Gag’s book, the prince and princess are still young children when they are together, it is several years before they may and live happily ever after. Dalgliesh has them trotting down the aisle immediately, and Galdone is vague, only indicating that "it came to pass."