No timeslip book this Tuesday, as is my usual wont, but instead, here's a newly released book that is a fun take on the princess genre, a great one for any young middle grade reader, whether reluctant or bibliophilic.
The Birthday Ball, by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Jule Feiffer (2010, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, younger middle grade, 186 pages).
Princess Patricia Priscilla is bored. So one day she commands her maidservant to hand over her clothes, and escapes from the castle...and heads into the village to spend time with the "poor peasants" attending the village school. Although "Pat's" attempts to mingle with populace are not entirely successful (she did too good a job dirtying her face and hands), she enjoys herself immensely, not least because of the very pleasant and not at all bad looking and rather intelligent village school master...
But Pat remains a princess. A princess who is about to turn 16--the year she has to marry. So a birthday ball is organized, with the four local princes invited. All repellent in their own way. What is a princess to do?
A fun, lighthearted take on the basic princess plot, in which Lowry's brisk prose is further enlivened by Feiffer's illustrations. I especially liked the palace pulley-boy, whose job consists entirely of hauling the ropes of the various royal dumb-waiters...although I did share Pat's fondness for the village school master. And I loved the way Lowry demolished the Princess' misconceptions of the populace!
Other reviews can be found at The Book Aunt, Green Bean Teen Queen, and BooksForKidsBlog.
disclaimer: ARC picked up at ALA midwinter.