A talking frog, a cow traded for beans that grow a sky-high beanstalk, a house shaped like a shoe – for Sunday, it’s just life as usual in the Wood. But when her friend Grumble disappears and the King seeks a new wife, old tales of evil spells are remembered, and Sunday tries to change what has been foretold.
Seventh daughter Sunday writes that she’s “doomed to a happy life,” but would rather be interesting than good and boring. Of course, wishes made in an enchanted land usually lead to adventures, so life in the Woodcutter family’s odd-shaped house is often more chaotic than taciturn Mama would like, despite the curlicued brightness of Papa’s stories from the Wood.
The ten Woodcutter siblings are children no more, although adopted Trix looks just as he did at age 12, thanks to his fairy blood. Ever since oldest brother Jack Jr. disappeared while in the King’s service, their family has stayed well away from the Arrilard palace, its sole prince, and its rumored curses.
Meeting Grumble by the fairy well was certainly more interesting than doing her chores, doubly so because the frog liked to listen to her stories, appreciative in his praise. Of course, any talking frog in the Wood must have been human first, so Sunday hopes that someday Grumble will tell her how he became cursed into frog form. She’d have to be careful about writing down his tale, as anything that she wrote had a strong chance of coming true, but he left the well without even saying goodbye.
Released from the froggy spell suddenly, Prince Rumbold finds himself in the palace, weak and confused. Who are his friends and who is against him? Why does he hear spirit voices in the palace night asking for death? What was the name of the girl who kissed him beside the well? His cold and regal father does allow Rumbold to invite all the eligible women of the kingdom to a grand ball at the palace, staying in his tower throne room to invoke magic for himself alone.
Will Rumbold find Sunday among all the people at the ball? Will Sunday recognize Rumbold out of his froggy skin? Will the Prince or the King choose a bride at the ball?
This bright-and-dark story about family, loyalty, and love in an Enchanted land reminds us that even the simplest fairy tales and nursery rhymes can carry the power of mighty words.
Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA