When Princess Clara finds a little ogre hidden in the long grass of the palace gardens, she takes him back to the palace and hides him under the bed. Now this little princess is a spirited child; she hates to wear shoes, preferring to run wild and perform acrobatics outside. She also hates pretty princessy attire and uses her many pairs of shoes as temporary hiding places for the little creatures she brings inside so when she discovers the little ogre, into a shoe he too goes and very soon he becomes the best friend she’s always wanted. At times though, she still feels sad, for since her mother died, her father no longer spends any time with her, he’s far too busy looking after his kingdom, leaving looking after his daughter to a bossy butler and a pernickety nanny.
One evening she shares her sadness with the little ogre and is surprised when he speaks back, revealing that in fact he’s a toad, – a King Toad – not an ogre and offers to make her dearest wish come true on condition she return him to the garden. In fact Clara’s wish is threefold for she wants to be rid of the bossy palace staff who make her life a misery. She agrees to the toad’s request and what happens thereafter is life changing in more ways than one for Princess Clara. Indeed it’s a happily ever after ending involving three people.
Celebrating the natural world, Morpurgo has created a modern version of a classic fairytale wherein kindness is key. With their wealth of delicious details, Emily Gravett’s illustrations bring out the humour of the story providing a perfect complement to the telling.