The Birthday Ball

( 20 )

Overview

A wry, dry, laugh-out-loud princess tale by the hilarious Lois Lowry, with illustrations by Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer.

Princess Patricia Priscilla is bored with her royal life and the excitement surrounding her sixteenth birthday ball. Doomed to endure courtship by three grotesquely unappealing noblemen, she adopts a peasant disguise and escapes her fate—for a week.

In this tale of mistaken identity, creamed pigeons, and ...

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The Birthday Ball

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Overview

A wry, dry, laugh-out-loud princess tale by the hilarious Lois Lowry, with illustrations by Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer.

Princess Patricia Priscilla is bored with her royal life and the excitement surrounding her sixteenth birthday ball. Doomed to endure courtship by three grotesquely unappealing noblemen, she adopts a peasant disguise and escapes her fate—for a week.

In this tale of mistaken identity, creamed pigeons, and young love, the two-time Newbery medalist Lois Lowry compares princesses to peasants and finds them to be exactly the same in all the important ways.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Lowry, who has often turned to new genres and made them her own, now freely adopts certain conventions of the romantic fairy tale to create a fresh story buoyed by wry wit and occasional schoolyard humor. The many idiosyncratic characters are drawn with swift, sure strokes in both the writing and in Feiffer's inimitable ink drawings, notable for their economy and assurance of line as well as their pitch-perfect expression of personality, attitude, and emotion. An original fairy tale with a decidedly comical twist."  —Booklist, starred review

"Lowry uses her knack for cleverly turning familiar stories on their heads (last seen in The Willoughbys) in this tale about a princess who's utterly bored with privileged palace life...Throughout, Feiffer's wiry ink illustrations paint the characters in offhand caricatures, adding to the merriment. Employing elements from the "Prince and the Pauper" as well as ample doses of humor and slapstick, Lowry sets the stage for a rowdy denouement."  —Publishers Weekly

"This is a captivating but gentle fairy tale with memorable characters and wonderfully swirly, evocative, energetic character sketches by the fabulous Feiffer."  —School Library Journal

"In her clever fairy-tale reconstruction, Lowry transforms the traditional princess into a refreshingly egalitarian heroine with a mind of her own. The hilarious, original and truly loathsome suitors are aptly memorialized in Feiffer’s spritely black-and-white caricature illustrations. Guaranteed to generate giggles and guffaws."  —Kirkus Reviews

"A lighthearted concoction overflowing with wordplay and alliteration. . . . [Readers] will laugh themselves silly."  —New York Times Book Review

"Lowry draws on wicked humor, sly wordplay and stock characters to propel this pleasantly predictable romp . . .[she] again proves her range."  —San Francisco Chronicle

"Newbery Medalist Lois Lowry and acclaimed illustrator Jules Feiffer throw one not-to-be-missed party with The Birthday Ball."  —Family Fun Magazine

"Feiffer's frenetic lines and distinctive caricatures maintain the offbeat tone while adding a charming quirkiness in their own right. Youngsters who like thier fair share of mischief will get a kick out of this fractured fairy tale either on their own or as a readaloud."  —The Bulletin

"Happiness radiates out from the Birthday Ball, zings down to the village and up again. A great story when read aloud."  —Chicago Tribune

Krystyna Poray Goddu
This is a lighthearted concoction overflowing with wordplay and alliteration…Lowry's mastery of character is very much in evidence here. She offers succinct biographies of each lord, lady and peasant child, no matter how minor his or her role in the story. Feiffer's brisk and angular line drawings, meanwhile, fill in emotion and action…Those attracted to the silly and the gross…should find the tale satisfying.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Lowry uses her knack for cleverly turning familiar stories on their heads (last seen in The Willoughbys) in this tale about a princess who's utterly bored with privileged palace life. With her 16th birthday and her mandatory choice of a husband fast approaching (at least she gets a choice, unlike most fairy tale princesses in her situation), Princess Patricia Priscilla hatches a plan to pose as a student at the village schoolhouse for a taste of freedom before her big day, when she will be expected to choose a suitor. Readers will quickly see why the top contenders—Prince Percival of Pustula, Duke Desmond of Dyspepsia, and the conjoined Counts of Coagulatia are still “eligible” bachelors—and will have no trouble guessing her best match. Throughout, Feiffer's wiry ink illustrations paint the characters in offhand caricatures, adding to the merriment. Employing elements from the “Prince and the Pauper” as well as ample doses of humor and slapstick, Lowry sets the stage for a rowdy denouement. The emphasis never strays from the predictable or silly, but fans won't mind. Ages 8–12. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
A very bored princess opts for change in this droll take on the Cinderella story. Five days before her 16th Birthday Ball, at which she's expected to choose her future husband, Princess Patricia Priscilla borrows her chambermaid's homespun dress, braids her curls and sheds her shoes to escape the palace and masquerade as peasant girl "Pat" in the village school. She quickly develops a crush on the handsome-but-poor young schoolmaster. Meanwhile, her wealthy noble suitors, the repellant Duke of Dyspepsia, the narcissistic Prince of Pustula and the disgusting conjoint Counts of Coagulatia prepare to attend the ball and win the princess. Faced with such totally repulsive choices, the proactive princess invites the whole village to her ball and upsets royal protocol in the best possible way. In her clever fairy-tale reconstruction, Lowry transforms the traditional princess into a refreshingly egalitarian heroine with a mind of her own. The hilarious, original and truly loathsome suitors are aptly memorialized in Feiffer's spritely black-and-white caricature illustrations. Guaranteed to generate giggles and guffaws. (Fairy tale. 8-12).
Children's Literature - Michele C. Hughes
Princess Patricia Priscilla is bored to tears with her privileged and sheltered life. She decides to trade clothes with her chambermaid and pose as a peasant so she can attend school. There, she learns a bit about what life is like for commoners. Meanwhile, her parents are seeking a prospective husband for her from the guest list of her sixteenth birthday ball, but the pickings are slim: Duke Desmond of Dyspepsia, a beastly man who resembles a warthog; Prince Percival of Pustula, who is in love with himself and wears spandex to purposely accentuate his round belly; and the Conjoint Counts of Coagulatia, who share not only certain vital organs but also a crude sense of humor. The princess finds them all revolting, preferring the kind schoolmaster to these distasteful suitors. At the story's climax, even the suitors are somewhat humanized, and the ending is a happy one for many of the characters. This story is pure fun from start to finish, with ghastly descriptions of the horrible noblemen and amusing characterizations of the castle servants. The setting changes from the castle to the schoolhouse to the noblemen's domains with grace and ease, giving the reader interesting glimpses into several ways of life. There is frequent wordplay, especially as the princess rhymes when talking to her cat, Delicious: "Don't be malicious, Delicious" and "It's nutritious, Delicious." The Conjoint Counts' toilet humor may appeal to coarser readers, lending an air of (mild) naughtiness to the tale. Feiffer's line drawings are humorous and apt, mocking the suitors in exaggerated poses and depicting the royal family in all their glory. Lowry's writing is clever enough for both adults and children to enjoy. Reviewer: Michele C. Hughes
School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—Princess Patricia Pricilla finds her royal life quite boring in this enjoyable tale (Houghton Mifflin, 2010) by Lois Lowry. The kingdom is preparing for her upcoming birthday ball where she will turn 16 and, according to the law of the domain, must find a suitor to marry. The only problem is that she finds each of her suitors extremely repulsive. To discover meaning in her life and to get away from the birthday preparations, the princess escapes to the village school where she disguises herself as a peasant girl and meets the handsome school master. Narrator Elissa Steele mimics the princess's boredom, and her narration appropriately escalates as the tensions rise among the family in the quest for a suitor. Using a tenor voice for the king, Steele is able to complement his easily distracted personality. She also captures the hard-of-hearing queen with her high-pitched shouting as she misinterprets what others say, which makes for quite a laugh. The soprano vocalizations of the a cappella singing of the kitchen maids and serving girls add a nice component to the narration. A charming and entertaining listen for tweens who enjoy tales about princesses and the quest for Mr. Right.—Janet Weber, Tigard Public Library, OR
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547577104
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/13/2011
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 487,570
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry is known for her versatility and invention as a writer. She was born in Hawaii and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and Japan. After several years at Brown University, she turned to her family and to writing. She is the author of more than thirty books for young adults, including the popular Anastasia Krupnik series. She has received countless honors, among them the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the California Young Reader.s Medal, and the Mark Twain Award. She received Newbery Medals for two of her novels, Number the Stars and The Giver. Her first novel, A Summer to Die, was awarded the International Reading Association.s Children.s Book Award. Ms. Lowry now divides her time between Cambridge and an 1840s farmhouse in Maine. To learn more about Lois Lowry, see her website at www.loislowry.com

Jules Feiffer 's artistic sensibility permeates a wide range of creative work, from his Pulitzer-winning comic strip in the Village Voice, to his Obie Award-winning play Little Murders, to his Oscar-winning anti-military short subject animation, Munro, to his beloved illustrations for The Phantom Tollbooth. Feiffer’s cartoons have appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, Playboy, and The Nation, and he was commissioned by The New York Times to create its first op-ed page comic strip which ran monthly until 2000, when Feiffer decided to start off the new millennium by giving up cartooning. Taking inspiration from his three daughters spanning three generations, he has reinvented himself as a children’s book author. His first book, The Man in the Ceiling, was selected by Publisher’s Weekly and the New York Public Library as one of the year’s best children’s books.

A former instructor at the Yale School of Drama and Northwestern University, Feiffer is now an adjunct professor at Southampton College, a member of the Dramatists Guild Council and has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. This is his first book with Houghton Mifflin.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 20 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The Birthday Ball by Lois Lowry is a lighthearted fairy tale, de

    The Birthday Ball by Lois Lowry is a lighthearted fairy tale, designed for pure entertainment. About to turn sixteen, Princess Patricia Priscilla must select a husband from the most dreadful assembly of suitors. The princess disguises herself as a peasant girl named “Pat” (because all peasants must have short names) and attends several days of school in the village. With her goes her cat named Delicious, who is always vicious, malicious, avaricious, suspicious, or at the very least in need of something nutritious. The princess’s options expand when she persuades her royal parents to invite all of the villagers to her birthday ball.

    Lowry fills each page with funny plays on words, puns, and alliteration. One suitor, Duke Desmond of Dyspepsia, has a warthog-like countenance that only an orphan could love. Black of heart and attire, Prince Percival of Pustula believes he and Princess Patricia Priscilla would make a perfect pair, but each time the prince pronounces the letter p, a glob of saliva accompanies the sound. The third suitor is a pair of Siamese twins, the coarse and crude Counts Colin and Cuthbert of Coagulatia.

    Jules Feiffer’s whimsical pen and ink illustrations suit the story perfectly. Although the amusing farce bears no resemblance to Lowry’s Newbery-Award-winning books The Giver and Number the Stars, her dedication to diversion is consistently clever and often hilarious. Even so, Lowry spins several genuine teenage issues into her yarn for her regal protagonist to address. The bored princess seeks adventure and gains an entirely new perspective on herself and the people in her Domain when she temporarily trades her silk gown for a plain brown dress. Those who are simply not in the mood for fun would do well to pass on this charming novel. Everyone else, enjoy!

    Laurie A. Gray
    Reprinted from the Christian Library Journal (Vol. XIV, No. 5, October 2010); used with permission.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2012

    Sally Lee

    It is good

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2013

    Nice

    This book is intereting and humorous. It is also kind of confusing because it has lots of things going on but so far good

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2012

    The rest are private rooms

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2012

    Not Recommended

    Terrible Plot

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2012

    Hi

    Ghhc

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