Harriet the Invincible (Hamster Princess Series #1)

Harriet the Invincible (Hamster Princess Series #1)

4.5 2
by Ursula Vernon

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Sleeping Beauty gets a feisty, furry twist in this hilarious new comic series from the creator of Dragonbreath

Harriet Hamsterbone is not your typical princess. She may be quite stunning in the rodent realm (you'll have to trust her on this one), but she is not so great at trailing around the palace looking ethereal or sighing a lot. She finds the royal


Sleeping Beauty gets a feisty, furry twist in this hilarious new comic series from the creator of Dragonbreath

Harriet Hamsterbone is not your typical princess. She may be quite stunning in the rodent realm (you'll have to trust her on this one), but she is not so great at trailing around the palace looking ethereal or sighing a lot. She finds the royal life rather . . . dull. One day, though, Harriet's parents tell her of the curse that a rat placed on her at birth, dooming her to prick her finger on a hamster wheel when she's twelve and fall into a deep sleep. For Harriet, this is most wonderful news: It means she's invincible until she's twelve! After all, no good curse goes to waste. And so begins a grand life of adventure with her trusty riding quail, Mumfrey...until her twelfth birthday arrives and the curse manifests in a most unexpected way.

Perfect for fans of Babymouse and Chris Colfer's Land of Stories, this laugh-out-loud new comic hybrid series will turn everything you thought you knew about princesses on its head.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 05/11/2015
This uproariously fun first entry in the Hamster Princess series begins when an uninvited evil fairy spoils Princess Harriet’s christening and curses the baby to a deathlike sleep at age 12. Sound familiar? Well, it is, but this future sleeping beauty is a rodent, and the curse involves not a spinning wheel but a hamster wheel. When Harriet Hamsterbone, no fan of standard princess stuff like deportment lessons and kissing princes, learns about the curse at age 10, she’s ecstatic—because she needs to be alive for the curse to work, she realizes that she’s essentially invincible. (Harriet celebrates by jumping off a tower, then “spent the next two years cliff-diving, dragon-slaying, and jousting on the professional circuit.”) When the curse magic gets twisted, Harriet demonstrates bravery, inventiveness, and a sword-sharp wit as she tries to save the kingdom. Shifting between prose passages and indigo-tinted cartoon sequences, Vernon (the Dragonbreath books) upends fairy-tale conventions and gender stereotypes left and right in a book with all the makings of a hit. Readers will be laughing themselves silly. Ages 8–12. Agent: Helen Breitwieser, Cornerstone Literary. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
A 2015 Texas Bluebonnet nominee
Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2015
Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2015
A New York Public Library Best Book for Reading and Sharing of 2015
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2015
An ALA Notable Children's Book of 2016

* "A joy to read, and we can only hope that Harriet – long may she reign – will return in later installments.” —Booklist, starred review

* "Move over, Babymouse, there’s a new rodent in town!...Vernon has created a spunky heroine readers will cheer for and who will leave them eagerly searching for the happily ever after in the next installment." —School Library Journal, starred review

* "Harriet is her own hamster, but she takes her place proudly alongside both Danny Dragonbreath and Babymouse. Creatively fresh and feminist, with laughs on every single page." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "A book with all the makings of a hit. Readers will be laughing themselves silly."  —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Middle-graders with a taste for absurdity and snark will find plenty of both here...Fans of Holm’s Babymouse (Babymouse: Queen of the World, BCCB 12/05) series or Vernon’s Dragonbreath (BCCB 9/09) series will definitely want to tag along on Harriet’s future adventures." —BCCB

Children's Literature - Hazel Buys
Princess Harriet Hamsterbone is the anti-princess. She loves fighting, cliff diving and all sorts of unseemly sports and hobbies. So she is thrilled when she figures out that she is invincible until a curse takes effect when she turns twelve. She has the time of her life fighting dragons, jousting, and jumping off roofs until the fateful day when the curse plays out in a most unexpected way. It is Princess Harriet who figures how to break the curse and save the kingdom, and her prince who follows along to help. The message of girl-empowerment is a delightful twist on the traditional fairytale. The book is illustrated with images drawn in heavy outline and washed with white and muted tones of dark blue, dark grey and black, giving the drawings a monochromatic feel. Intended as the opening book in a new series by Vernon, the author of the “Dragonbreath” series. This book would be a fun addition to a classroom or reading circle addressing girls’ empowerment or changing social roles in the twenty-first century. Reviewer: Hazel Buys; Ages 8 to 12.
School Library Journal
★ 05/01/2015
Gr 3–5—From the creator of the "Dragonbreath" series (Dial) comes a new fairy tale heroine in the form of a hamster. Princess Harriet Hamsterbone is not like ordinary princesses who are known for trailing around the palace looking ethereal and sighing a lot. She is, however, brave and intelligent and excels in other hamster princess skills, like checkers and fractions. Harriet is also invincible, due in part to a curse put upon her at birth by the evil wicked fairy god mouse, Ratshade. The curse dooms Princess Harriet to fall into a Sleeping Beauty-like slumber at the age of 12 but leaves her unable to die until then. Rather than worry about the inevitable, Princess Harriet lives life without fear—cliff-diving and Ogre-cat fighting, all with her trusty quail friend Mumfrey at her side. When the curse backfires, leaving all in the Kingdom in a deep slumber except Harriet and Mumfrey, it is up to the fierce little hamster to find a willing prince able to help her break the curse and save the kingdom. The artwork is large and in graphic novel-style, with sparse colors, similar to the "Dragonbreath" illustrations. Move over, Babymouse, there's a new rodent in town! VERDICT Vernon has created a spunky heroine readers will cheer for and who will leave them eagerly searching for the happily ever after in the next installment.—Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2015-04-15
This new series from Dragonbreath's Vernon puts a wild spin on "Sleeping Beauty." A droll opening introduces Harriet Hamsterbone ("who, as her name indicated, was a hamster"), an adventurous princess chafing against deportment, the requirements of her role, and other limitations imposed by her parents. When they reveal the source of their overprotectiveness (the "Sleeping Beauty" curse, with a hamster wheel on her 12th birthday substituting for the spinning wheel), Harriet takes a seemingly counterintuitive stance: since the curse requires her to be alive on her fateful birthday, until then she must be invincible. She gallivants around as an unstoppable hero before returning home for her birthday—to discover that her mother has prepared for the curse by picking a wretched, male-chauvinist prince to kiss and wake her once the curse sets in. Before it can, the evil fairy shows up to gloat, and a hilarious sequence leads to the backfiring of the curse, leaving Harriet the castle's only hamster still awake. Now she must find a prince willing to kiss every last sleeping creature in the castle. Vernon deploys the same winning elements found in her Dragonbreath books, a mix of boldly drawn, two-tone cartoons, occasional speech bubbles, and a boisterously humorous text. Harriet is her own hamster, but she takes her place proudly alongside both Danny Dragonbreath and Babymouse. Creatively fresh and feminist, with laughs on every single page. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 8-12)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Hamster Princess Series , #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.10(w) x 5.60(h) x 0.80(d)
810L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


Once upon a time, in a distant land, there was a beautiful princess named Harriet Hamsterbone, who, as her name indicated, was a hamster.

She was brave and intelligent and excelled in traditional hamster princess skills, like checkers and fractions.

She was not very good at trailing around the palace looking ethereal and sighing a lot, which are also traditional princess skills, but her parents hired deportment teachers to try and make up for it.

Her deportment teacher tried to make her walk around with a book on her head to improve her posture. He was later found in the library with a book stuffed in his mouth, and Harriet was grounded for a month.

She loved her riding quail Mumfrey, and rode him all over the countryside. Riding quail can’t actually fly, but they make excellent steeds for hamsters. Harriet and Mumfrey rode everywhere pretending to slay monsters, since her parents would not actually let her go out to slay real dragons. This was a source of great disappointment for her.

Despite being kept away from monsters, Harriet was generally happy and not as irritating as some princesses. Yet her mom and dad were often depressed, for they knew that a dark cloud hung over the princess, and indeed, the very kingdom.

For when the princess was only twelve days old, on the day she was to be christened, a dreadful curse had been placed upon her, and despite their best efforts, the hamster king and queen had no idea how to break it.


The Christening: Ten Years Earlier

On the day of the princess’s christening, everyone in the palace and many of the most important people in the kingdom had come out to witness the ceremony.

No expense had been spared. In the usual Hamsterbone tradition, there were dukes and earls and a marquess, which is something like a marquis, and several viscounts and one regular count and even a praetor. (The praetor had taken a wrong turn some weeks ago while hunting. He didn’t know what the hamsters were talking about, but had heard something about free food. Praetors are elected officials in certain kinds of kingdoms, and they never pass up free meals.)

And of course there were three fairy god-mice, to administer the blessings, and the princess herself.

The assembled crowd shrank back when the wicked fairy appeared, for it was immediately obvious to all that this was no ordinary fairy, but in fact the wicked Ratshade, who had placed third on Fairy God-Mouse Today’s Most Wicked List for eleven years running. Rumor had it that she was a bit bitter about her inability to move up the list, and had been planning something big.

Ratshade was tall and thin, and her fingernails were so long that they curved in strange rippling claws and made it very difficult for her to blow her nose without causing herself serious injury. Her fur was as white as bone, her eyes were red, and she had a stump for a tail, because she had traded her tail for power when she was young. (This is a thing that rats can do, although most of them are very attached to their tails and wouldn’t dream of parting with them.)

Ratshade stomped across the dais toward the bassinet that contained the princess. Two fairy god-mice cowered back, but the youngest clutched the back of the bassinet, prepared to snatch the princess away if Ratshade tried to grab her.

But Ratshade did not touch the princess. She only gazed down at her, clicking her long nails together, and then she laughed, a laugh like bones clattering down a hole in the dark.

“Very well!” said the wicked fairy. “Very well! She is twelve days old today? Well, when she is twelve years old, she shall prick her finger upon a hamster wheel and fall into a sleep like death!”

Ratshade vanished in a cloud of oily smoke that smelled like burning hair, and the inhabitants of the kingdom looked at one another in dismay. The princess was cursed!


What can we possibly do?” cried the dukes.

“There’s nothing we can do!” cried the earls.

“Very difficult to break, fairy curses,” said the marquess.

“They come true no matter what,” said the viscounts.

“They’ll bend the world around them and make themselves come true,” said the regular count.

“Maybe the other fairies can do something,” said the praetor, helping himself to the buffet.

Everyone stared at him.

“Brilliant!” cried the dukes and the earls and the marquess and the viscounts and the regular count. “We never would have thought of that!”

“I can’t believe my empire never conquered yours when we had the chance,” muttered the praetor into his sandwich.

So the three fairy god-mice put their heads together, while the hamster queen tried to comfort the princess, who had slept through the entire thing and did not actually need comforting.

“Right!” said the oldest of the fairy god-mice. “We cannot break Ratshade’s curse, O King Hamsterbone, but we can alter it a little. I have changed the curse so that when the princess falls asleep, she shall not need either food or drink while she is sleeping.”

“I guess that’s useful,” said the queen.

“What about bathrooms?” asked the king. “I mean, I always have to get up in the middle of the night to use the toilet, so—”

“No bathrooms either,” said the oldest fairy god-mouse, and gave the king a very stern look.

“And I,” said the middle god-mouse, “have changed the curse so that at the moment it takes effect, enormous thorny briars shall grow up around the princess’s tower, so that no one can get in.”

“Um,” said the king. “That . . . doesn’t sound quite so useful.”

“Tough,” said the middle fairy god-mouse, annoyed. “It’s already cast.”

The hamster king and queen sighed, and turned to the third god-mouse without much hope.

“So what did you do?” asked the king. “Set the palace on fire? Turn her into a snowflake or a chicken or something?”

Meet the Author

Ursula Vernon is a full-time author and illustrator whose work has won a Hugo award and been nominated for an Eisner. She loves birding, gardening, and spunky heroines, and thinks she would make a terrible princess. Ursula lives with her husband in Pittsboro, North Carolina.

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Harriet the Invincible (Hamster Princess Series #1) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous 6 months ago
This is a good book and it has nothing agianst any body like someone said u should know it has nothing agianst males so whoever said that is not right they are wrond because it has nothing against any body
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's straight up sexist against males. Don't believe me? Ask your nearest male (who could be yourself) to read it carefully and see what happens! (Results may vary)