Book review — “Confessions of a Teenage Frog” by Susan Smith

I was walking through the kids’ section of a bookstore way back in 1987 when I spotted this book. I snapped it up immediately, and then learned it was the second of what would be four-book series about a girl named Samantha Slade. The series is about a 12 – 13 year-old girl who, essentially, becomes babysitter to Addams Family-ish kids. The kids (and their mother) are weird, but they like their sitter. It was a cute series and I would’ve liked to have seen more.

In this book, Samantha runs for class president and Drake, the boy she sits for, gives her a potion to make her great. What happens, however, is that, whenever she tries to be great, she turns into a frog.

The book handles her frog-ness well. It elaborates on what kind of frog she turns into, a green tree frog. This is a frog with sticky pads on its fingers, which allows Samantha to stick to most things. She retains her human mind, and voice, with a few frog instincts thrown in as well. Can’t have a girl become a frog without her eating a few bugs, after all.

Samantha changes into a frog and then back into a human several times throughout the book. Contrary to what the cover above shows, Samantha’s clothes do not change with her. But she usually has changes of clothes nearby for when she regains her humanity. (I’d be willing to bet that, somewhere out there, are boys and girls who read this who were sent down the path of metamorphilia by this book.)

The book goes back and forth between Samantha’s human life (especially her campaign for class president) and her amphibian state. But she can’t help the latter interfering with the former. And, at the book’s climax, when she has to give her major campaign speech while stuck as a frog, there’s a definite tension the reader feels for her.

There is a resolution to her transformations, though it is one that can be undone. This never happens in the two subsequent books in the series, which is one reason I would’ve liked to have seen the series continue.

Still, whether you’re a fan of frog transformations or transformations in general, this book is for you. It’s still available through Amazon and/or eBay. (Later editions do not have the cover illustration, so if that’s one thing selling you on this book, be careful.)

If you’re a parent,( aunt, uncle, whatever), I recommend this book, or, if you can find it, the entire series. (And, for TG fans, Ms. Smith also wrote Changing Places, the story of a body-swap between girlfriend and boyfriend. You can find it here: )

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