The Birthday Ball

The Birthday Ball

3.9 20
by Lois Lowry, Jules Feiffer
     
 

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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 escapes her fate—for a week. Disguised as a peasant, she attends the village school as the smart new girl, “Pat,” and attracts friends and the attention of

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Overview

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 escapes her fate—for a week. Disguised as a peasant, she attends the village school as the smart new girl, “Pat,” and attracts friends and the attention of the handsome schoolmaster. Disgusting suitors, lovable peasants, and the clueless king and queen collide at the ball, where Princess Patricia Priscilla calls the shots. What began as a cure for boredom becomes a chance for Princess Patricia Priscilla to break the rules and marry the man she loves.

Editorial Reviews

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).
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

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:
09/13/2011
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
881,371
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
870L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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