Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005
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The Pickpocket of the Palace

by Donna Jo Napoli

illustrated by Judith Byron Schachner

Reviewed February 23, 2005.
Puffin Books, New York, 1995.  166 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005 (#4, Young Adult and Children's Fantasy Old Favorites)

Jimmy:  The Pickpocket of the Palace is the first book by Donna Jo Napoli that I ever read, and the one that inspired me to read any more of her books that I could get my hands on.  This book is the sequel to The Prince of the Pond, but you can follow it easily if you’ve ever heard the fairy tale of the Frog Prince.

The premise is that while the Frog Prince was a frog, he fell in love with a helpful female frog, and they had children.  Jimmy is the most adventurous of those children.  He likes to watch the man who often comes to the pond and the fabulous horse that man rides.  He also is fascinated by the hag who often comes to the pond, who is missing her nose because of his father.

When the hag threatens to dry up the pond if she doesn’t get back her magic ring, Jimmy knows what he must do.  He has seen the man with the ring.  He must go to the palace and get it.  While he is trying to do that, a kiss from a small princess turns him into a human boy.

Jimmy is assumed to be kitchen help brought in for the wedding preparations.  He gets a chance to get close to the prince, who, like him, still finds sow bugs delicious.  Unfortunately, Jimmy’s first attempt to get the ring is not viewed very tolerantly.

An amusing look at what the world might be like for a frog who suddenly finds himself human, and a glimpse of what might have come after the famous tale was over.  I’m reading these books to my ten-year-old, and they’re proving to make good read-alouds.

Reviews of other books by Donna Jo Napoli:
The Prince of the Pond
Gracie:  The Pixie of the Puddle
Three Days
Fish Girl
Daughter of Venice
The Great God Pan

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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