The Princess and the Pig

Illustrated by Poly Bernatene

Can a frog really turn into a prince?

When a cunning frog claims to be a bewitched prince, fairy-tale-loving princesses Arabella and Lucinda take him into their home and treat him like royalty. But fact-loving Princess Martha isn’t so sure; her non-fiction books tell a different story.

A brilliantly funny twist on the classic fairy tale
The Frog Prince.

"A cleverly told twist of the traditional tale, this hilarious story is beautifully told and vibrantly illustrated."


"A book that drills home a very simple message: “Just because it’s in a book doesn’t mean it’s true.” Its timing could not be better."


Read these and other reviews


UK Hardcover •ISBN-10: 1447283791 • ISBN-13: 978-1447283799
UK Paperback • ISBN-10: 1447284321 • ISBN-13: 978-1447284321



US Hardcover • ISBN-10: 1561457612 • ISBN-13: 978-1561457618

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Although Prince Ribbit is the fourth book that illustrator Poly Bernatene and I have created together, it’s effectively a follow-up to the second, The Princess and the Pig. While it’s not a sequel, both books are set in a fairytale world of princes and princesses and both books feature characters who are reading books of fairy tales.

In this new story a cunning frog inveigles his way into a royal household by pretending to be an enchanted prince. Romantically obsessed Princesses Lucinda and Arabella are only too happy to believe Prince Ribbit's story, but their younger sister Princess Martha is more sceptical.

Although fiction versus non-fiction is now a prominent theme of the story, there were no non-fiction books in the first few drafts. The only book that was referenced was Lucinda and Arabella's favourite fairy tale The Frog Prince, which provides Prince Ribbit with the inspiration for his cunning plan. In these earlier drafts, Martha succeeded in foiling Ribbit using nothing but her own reasoning and the story ended at an earlier point.

While I was fairly happy with this early version, Emily Ford, my editor at Macmillan, felt that the ending could be stronger and that the whole story was not as satisfying as the other ones I’d written for Poly to illustrate – and she was right! However it took me a while to find a way to achieve this and come up with a new draft that fitted the bill.

Martha begins the story as an avid non-fiction reader but, by the end, she's a fan of fiction as well.

In the story, reading fiction helps Martha to find a solution to her problem; reading non-fiction helped me to find a solution to mine. At that time I was reading a lot of "popular science" books. It may surprise you to learn that libel laws do not apply to science and authors can misrepresent a scientist’s work with impunity. There are good reasons for this exemption, but it means that the label of “non-fiction” should not always be taken literally when it comes to scientific literature, particularly popular science books which can sometimes misrepresent evidence in order to appeal to a wider market. After digging a little deeper into the evidence, I discovered that some of the books I was reading at that time were doing exactly that and I often had to remind myself that, “Just because it’s in a book, it doesn’t mean it’s true!”. This phrase inspired the fiction versus non-fiction theme in the later drafts of Prince Ribbit and became a refrain within the story.

While I loved the idea of playing off fiction against non-fiction, I didn’t want to show one type of book winning over the other – they’re both of equal value — so in the end Martha learns to appreciate both before foiling Prince Ribbit’s plan.

It was felt that this first version of the diagram of a frog's life cycle provided a little ‘too much information’ for younger readers so the copulation stage was omitted from the final illustration.

As always Poly has done a terrific job of illustrating the book, creating a cast of engaging characters in beautifully rendered settings. I particularly like the way that the illustrations in the books the characters are reading are drawn in a different style to the rest of the illustrations. Poly’s precisely detailed diagram of the life cycle of a frog would not look out of place in a real reference book, although Macmillan felt that his first version provided a little ‘too much information’ for younger readers (see image opposite).

When I first saw Poly’s roughs for the book I wasn’t keen on the car spread (shown above) and suggested that it would be better if the illustration show the royal tailors and jewellers attending Ribbit inside the palace. However Poly was reluctant to change it and — having now seen the finished illustration — I’m glad that he got his way, as it’s now my favourite spread in the book. I love the blue-yellow colour palette that Poly has used for this illustration, with the golden glow of the tailor’s shop spilling out into the half-light of the crowded street.


spot the monster
Tony & Lisa
spot the monster
Illustrations © 2016 Poly Bernatene. Reproduced by permission of Macmillan Children's Books.

Enter Prince Ribbit, a book that drills home a very simple message: “Just because it’s in a book doesn’t mean it’s true.” Its timing could not be better. … Teaching very young children to take their books’ facts on something other than mere faith is a tricky subject, but increasingly necessary. With a steady hand and a working brain, a parent, teacher, or librarian could easily spin this book into a lesson that would ultimately do child readers a world of good. Read carefully. Read critically. Read everything and then form your own opinion from the facts, as best as you can gather them. Or, if you just prefer, read this cute book because it has princesses and talking frogs in it. As far as I can tell, that’s a win-win situation.


The pictures have the vivid sweep and irreverent characterizations of modern animation, the frog is a suitably haughty rogue, and readers will take away a universally appealing lesson: it’s fun to be clever.


A hilarious and witty send-up of The Frog Prince, and a reminder that not everything you read is true, Prince Ribbit by Jonathan Emmett & illustrated by Poly Bernatene is a whimsical new fairy tale perfect for bedtime, story time, or any time.
It’s always the sign of a good children’s book, I think, when it can make an adult laugh. And laugh, I did! Prince Ribbit had me chuckling from the very beginning, with Martha’s obvious eye roll and the smug frog’s enjoyment of the royal treatment.
The illustrations are so beautiful — both adding to the story through nuanced expressions on each character’s face, to the little details you really only notice when you study each page. A two-page spread featuring a collage of fairy tales that Martha reads is exceptionally well wrought.
And even when you think you know where the story goes, the author keeps you on your toes — and laughing once again — because, after all, “just because it’s in a book doesn’t mean it’s true.”


'Prince Ribbit,' written by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Poly Bernatene, is a splendid story with an interesting and all-too-true moral - "just because it's in a book doesn't mean it's true." In an age where people are apt to believe much of what they hear, whether it is on the Internet, on TV, or elsewhere, this story truly teaches a lesson and backs up the idea that you really have to read closely - and often between the lines - to determine the truth of the matter. … A creative and thoughtful retelling of an age-old fairytale, 'Prince Ribbit' will not only be enjoyable and entertaining for readers, but will allow them to think outside the box and make their own determinations and predictions about how the story might turn out in the end.

Beth Rodgers – Staff Reviewer, YA AND KIDS BOOKS CENTRAL

Hop, skip and jump into this brilliant new picture book from top team Jonathan Emmett and Poly Bernatene.
Well-loved fairy tale, The Frog Prince, gets a dashing, daring makeover as ever popular author Emmett and talented illustrator Bernatene put a devilishly clever twist in the not-so-handsome frog’s tail. … Emmett works his own brand of fairy tale magic as he transforms a classic tale into a feast of smiles and smoochy surprises while Bernatene’s stunning and superbly detailed illustrations provide a feast of colour and fun.
A picture book that all the family can enjoy…


A clever frog and a practical princess match wits in Jonathan Emmett’s Prince Ribbit, a smart new take on the classic frog-prince fairy tale that playfully challenges the notions of fact and fiction, logic and lore. Illustrator Poly Bernatene perfectly portrays the balance, integrating fanciful brocades and timeless castles with science texts, a bespectacled princess, and, of course, one affable amphibian, who may or may not be a prince awaiting true love’s kiss.

Pallas Gates McCorquodale, FOREWORD REVIEWS

A cleverly told twist of the traditional tale, this hilarious story is beautifully told and vibrantly illustrated.


Full of twists and turns, this cute new fairy tale pulls in elements from the classic frog prince without copying … Parents and teachers will want to read this aloud and talk about all the other ways this story and the original one could end. Kids could learn a lot about literature and about ways in which we gather facts. This book is sure to become a bedtime favorite.


A truly entertaining twist on fairy tales, ideal for children aged 4 – 6 years …
This is a really enjoyable story and definitely worthy of the bedtime bookself.


"Prince Ribbit" by Jonathan Emmett and Poly Bernatene takes the traditional fairy tale of "The Frog Prince" and bounces it firmly on its head a little, spinning it into a hugely funny and original twist on the story you probably all know and love. … Once again Jonathan and Poly prove themselves a dream team. If you loved "The Princess and the Pig" you're definitely going to love this ticklish tale about a Princess and a frog.


Vibrant colours, brilliant caricatures, and a well told, up to date version of a famous fairy tale - brilliant!


Author Jonathan Emmett and illustrator Polly Bernatene bring their own brands of magic to this spin on the classic Frog Prince fairy tale. The illustrations are vibrant, funny and full of dotty details.




Hardcover ISBN
El Princep Gripau
Juan A. García
Spanish (Castilian)
El Principe Rana
Rocio de Isasa