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The Birthday Ball by Lois Lowry and Illustrated by Jules Feiffer

Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (An Imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Pages: 192

Ages: Middle Grade

Publishers Summary: Princess Patricia Priscilla’s sixteenth birthday is in one week. That means she has seven days before her birthday ball, and seven days before the moment when she must select a suitor to marry.

Oh, dear. Seven days is not a very long time, sixteen is not very old, and Princess Patricia Priscilla’s prospective suitors consist of a dirty duke, a foppish prince, and foul-mouthed conjoined counts.
Princess Patricia Pricilla is not terribly optimistic about the whole affair.

And so, with her cat Delicious in tow, Princess Pat sneaks off to join the peasant children each day at the schoolhouse in hopes of finding out just what she’s been missing before she must resign herself to a wretched future. But after meeting Fred, Nell, Liz the norphan, and a rather dreamy schoolmaster, Princess Pat wonders if perhaps the plans for her Birthday Ball might require one or two adjustments. . .

It’s just a birthday, right? For Princess Patricia Priscilla (PPP) her sixteenth birthday is more than just your average party with a few streamers. The kingdom in which she resides states a very clear and simple rule, “On her sixteenth birthday the Princess must choose a suitor with which to marry.” When Patricia “Pat” realizes not only the magnitude of this day, but also is informed of her choices she’s left with very little choice in the matter. With nothing left to lose, she escapes to the local schoolhouse to pretend to be a commoner for the week before her birthday. Little does Princess Pat know, this could potentially change the course of her life as well as the lives of those around her.

Many of my readers may know the author of The Birthday Ball, Lois Lowry, by her well known book, The Giver. An absolute favorite of mine, The Giver is nearly a standard in every middle grade to early high school classroom across America now. Well, The Birthday Ball is nothing like The Giver, nothing. That is unless you account for the writing, which is huge and equally as wonderful in both books. And though The Birthday Ball is a much more light hearted read, it still holds many beautiful lessons and offers quite a bit of room for discussion.

In The Birthday Ball the main character, Princess “Pat” has been given anything and everything she could possibly ever want. From clothing to food to education, you name it she has it. Her parents are good people, but have priorities of their own which don’t often include her. Because of this, by the time she is almost of marrying age she is utterly bored with life and desires an adventure into the unknown. Her encounters with the “common” people in her area bring to her an enlightenment that couldn’t have happen behind closed castle walls. Not only this, but possibly even a chance at lasting love.

There were a couple of things I wasn’t particularly keen on with this particular book though. Because Princess Pat must choose a suitor and an obvious change in character is to be made, the suitors were dreadfully horrible in the beginning. To be honest, before I knew how it ended it bothered somewhat me to see how negatively they were looked upon. By the end though it was nice to see how they were each able to come to realization of their individual beauty and be accepted by others for who they truly were. The other thing I didn’t fall in love with were the illustrations. I understand it’s supposed to be somewhat whimsical, but the “pencil” sketches weren’t my favorites. Though I have absolutely adored some of Feiffer’s other work, these illustrations just didn’t work for me.

A princess with a passion for discovery and the unknown lands herself in the midst of people she never thought she’d associate with and leaves a better person for it. Through a random and quite funny series of events Princess Pat is able to plan a Birthday Ball that will not quickly be forgotten by anyone in attendance. Another beautifully written novel by Newbery award winning author, Lois Lowry. This is the perfect read for middle graders everywhere, especially those with an affinity for princesses!

The1stdaughter Recommends: Ages 7-12. A perfect lesson on looking beyond the exterior to see what someone is truly about. Middle grade readers will adore another fantastic book in Lois Lowry’s collection.

This book was provided for review by the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children via NetGalley. Thank you!
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5 Responses to Book Review: The Birthday Ball by Lois Lowry

  1. Oh yah I’m feeling you on the pencil sketches. I don’t dig them either. Great review though 🙂

  2. Gina says:

    I thought the author’s name sounded familiar. Great find even with the few exceptions to your general enjoyment of the book. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. matthew says:

    For some reason the pencil sketches reminded me of Roald Dahl.

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