The Birthday Ball



Lois Lowry will be at the Blue Manatee in Cincinnati, Ohio Monday May 17th from 7-9 PM. Yes, I’ll be there, too.

I just finished The Birthday Ball, by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Jules Feiffer. This is a middle grade novel and it’s a lot of fun. Princess Patricia Priscella has a problem: she’s bored. Every day is the same. She has no one to talk with but her cat (named Delicious, in what I hope was a shout-out to Natalie Babbitt) and nothing to do. Even the seventeenth chambermaid has a much more exciting life than Princess Patricia.

But in five days she’ll have a bigger problem: she’ll be sixteen and she’ll have to choose between the three ugliest, nastiest, smelliest suitors you could ever imagine.

Duke Desmond of Dyspepsia looks like a wart-hog, and has the charm and personal hygiene to match. He’s forbidden any mirrors in his whole domain. The Conjoint Counts, Colin and Cuthbert of Coagulatia, constantly bicker, can’t make a decision, and have the charm, hygiene and sense of humor of eleven year old boys unconstrained by any parenting. All nouns in their domain must be plural. Worst of all is the incredibly narcissistic Prince Percival of Pustulia, who spends all day, every day, looking in mirrors. There must be a mirror always. He has servants with mirrors riding beside his coach (with its mirrors) so he can see his reflection instead of the countryside.

Princess Patricia Priscella pulls a Prince and the Pauper (say it five times fast) with the help of Tess, the seventeenth chambermaid. She isn’t trying to duck her responsibility, but she wants to have at least a few days to learn what it’s like to be a peasant and to go to school.

This is a new book, so I won’t go further and spoil any of the surprises or plot twists, but I will make a quick observation about the suitors (and Patricia Priscella’s distracted father who benignly neglects her, fascinated by his butterfly collection): they pretty much sum up the negatives that girls of all ages see in boys of all ages.

Fortunately for us males, Patricia’s father really is a good guy and there are good guys in the kitchen and the schoolhouse. Even a couple of the suitors turn out to be OK.



One Response to “The Birthday Ball”

  1. Sounds cute. I’m adding a book to your pile: The Silence by Nathaniel Ewert-Krocker. It’s new, by a friend of mine, and I’d love to honestly hear what you think of it.

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