Hmmm. How to describe my latest read? OK, well, imagine a fairy tale with a strong and independent princess, a touch of Roald Dahl (including the bodily functions humor that causes 8-10 year olds to roll on the floor in glee), throw in a little bit of mistaken identity, and a little word play, and you pretty much have Lois Lowry's THE BIRTHDAY BALL.
- Princess Patricia Priscilla- a bored adolescent princess, five days from her 16th birthday, where she will choose a husband
- King Lepodoptera- the Princess' butterfly-studying, naturalist father
- Queen Romelda Rebozo- the Princess' somewhat deaf mother
- Suitor #1: Duke Desmond of Dyspesia- so ugly a team of Royal Splashers do synchronized swimming exercises in lakes so the Prince will not see his own reflection
- Suitor #2- Prince Percival of Pustula- a black-clad, black-hearted prince who spends his days admiring himself in the mirror. The prince's valet, Hal, spends his days brushing dandruff off the prince's shoulders
- Suitor(s) #3 and #4- The Conjoint Counts, Colin and Cuthbert, who have never agreed on anything, except the fact that they want to marry Princess Patricia Priscilla
The Princess, accompanied by her cat, Delicious (the one liners associated with the cat could provide weeks of word study- It's nutritious, Delicious! Stop looking avaricious, Delicious! No need to be surreptitious, Delicious!) decides to liven up her life by attending school with the peasants in the village, where she meets Rafe, the schoolmaster. The Princess invites the entire village to her birthday ball at the castle, where she declares her love for her true prince and they begin a not-so-typical happily ever after…
This book works for me on lots of levels- great story, terrific humor, well-crafted. I love Princess Patricia Priscilla's independence and also her compassion. I love the vocabulary and the word play-- this is the kind of book that makes kids fall in love with language. The pen and ink illustrations by Jules Feiffer (his best known work is probably THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH) are perfect for the story.
I wonder if I can squeeze this read aloud in somewhere in the the last ten days of school!