HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Curse of the Vassal Fruit: Book One in the Frog Prince Adventures
Author: Erik Sietsema
Illustrator: Jen Fultz
Publisher: Frog Prince Adventures, 2018
Related website(s): https://thefrogprinceadventures.com/ (series)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 7 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Sietsema, Erik. The Curse of the Vassal Fruit: Book One in the Frog Prince Adventures (published in 2018 by Frog Prince Adventures, P. O. Box 5, Big Sandy, MT 59520). Joseph is the youngest of six brothers. His grandfather, who had died about a year before, had been Joseph I, King of the Swamp Kingdom, one of the Twelve Kingdoms created by the Mountain King. Now Joseph’s father, King Joseph II, is soon to have his coronation. With five older brothers, Joseph, who is named Prince Joseph the Third for his father and grandfather, never expects to become king, but he does daydream of being a great knight and adventurer. During the preparations for the coronation, at which the rulers of all Twelve Kingdoms are present, Joseph and his fairy princess friend Rose-Marie, daughter of Queen Marie of the Fairy Kingdom, discover that two of his father’s toad advisors, Ridcully and Palaingo whom neither he nor his grandfather has ever trusted, have amassed an army of rats in a plot to unseat his father and enslave the kings of the Twelve Kingdoms. When Joseph tries to tell his father about it, no one believes the young prince’s warnings because the king’s devious toad advisors persuade everyone to dismiss them as children’s stories.
Therefore, Joseph turns to another trusted advisor and his teacher, the ancient turtle Morla. However, when Morla investigates Joseph’s claims, the old turtle’s quarters are ransacked, and he disappears. The children find Morla in the dungeon, along with all the enslaved rulers. He gives them a broken sword and tells them to find Aughra in the Desert Kingdom. With the help of the minstrel fox Didymus and a young dragon named Pete, they try to escape the city but must navigate hidden caverns beneath the castle and elude the army of rats. Do they get captured? Or can they make it out? But even if so, will they get to their destination in time to do anything and how? And why is that old sword hilt so important? Erik Sietsema is a small town minister who says that he has found it difficult to find quality books for his children so he created this allegorical fantasy story in the vein of C. S. Lewis’s Narnia books that would both teach and entertain them as well as be something that he would enjoy reading himself.
Besides some common euphemisms (e.g., heck), there are a few references to dancing at a ball and to drinking wine and ale. But the main thread is the battle between good and evil. The Curse of the Vassal Fruit would make a delightful and entertaining family read aloud or a good chapter book for young readers. Joseph is a character with which every red-blooded lad will easily identify, while the young ladies will likely understand and appreciate Rose-Marie. In fact, the two youngsters were inspired by Sietsema’s son and daughter. The writing is filled with humorous word play such as puns, literary citations, allusions to movie lines, and other pop culture references, all of which will bring a smile to the adults’ lips. The exciting plot is well paced so that it will keep the reader turning the pages and, at the end, begging for the next installment of this story which is to continue in subsequent novels.