The Birthday Ball by Lois Lowry. Illustrations by Jules Feiffer. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2010).
Princess Patricia Priscilla has a few days left before her sixteenth birthday, when she has to select a husband from three nasty suitors at her birthday ball. She needs some excitement, so she heads to the village school to mingle with the peasants.
I probably would've enjoyed this tale a bit more if I hadn't had such high expectations--it's Lois Lowry, right? Instead, I found this story somewhat predictable and even a little creepy. The suitors are really really nasty and it's horrifying to contemplate that the princess is supposed to choose one to marry. I mean, really--conjoined twin counts who fight constantly when they're not making bathroom jokes? A hideously ugly duke who is compared to a warthog? A hateful, narcissistic prince with greasy dyed-black hair who sheds dandruff like snow onto his black silk garments? Might not these characters, however humorously intended, give little girls nightmares? Yes, there's a "happy end," but the path to it shades a little too darkly for me.
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