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Genre: children's books, Genre: Middle Grade, Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Series: book review

Book Review: The Birthday Ball by Lois Lowry

The Birthday Ball
by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Jules Feiffer

9780547238692, $16, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,
Pub. Date: April 2010

Though Princess Patricia Priscilla has everything she could ever want she is utterly bored. To escape her boredom, Princess Patricia Priscilla switches places with her chambermaid Tess, and becomes simple Pat, just another village child going to school. Throughout the week, she gets to know the children in her school, the villagers, and the stern-but-handsome schoolteacher.

Unfortunately, on her 16th birthday at the end of the week, she is having a big Birthday Ball where she will be forced to choose a suitor – either disgusting Duke Desmond of Dyspepsia, pompous Prince Percival of Pustula, or cranky conjoint Counts Colin and Cuthbert.

Luckily, Pat is smart as well as pretty. She invites all the villagers to the party and gives THEM presents instead! Then she has her mother knight the schoolteacher and chooses him as her suitor.

Additional storylines include Tess, the chambermaid, who is actually the schoolteacher’s long-lost sister, and her crush on the pulley boy; the triplet kitchen maids who sing in three-part harmonies; the little orphan girl in Pat’s school class who ends up charming and civilizing the Duke of Desmond; and of course, what happens to the other suitors.

The story is charming and funny. It reminds me of “A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears” actually written by Jules Feiffer. Similar quirkiness saves a regular “princess goes into disguise and marries former pauper” story from being too, sorry for the pun, pat.  

Jules Feiffer’s spot illustrations add an extra humorous touch.

For fans of princess stories with a twist, read-aloud to as young as 6 years-old, read-alone up to age 12-ish.


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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Birthday Ball by Lois Lowry

  1. I know this is an odd question, but do you know what font was used at the chapter beginnings of this book? It's so lovely!

    Posted by Anonymous | August 6, 2010, 4:18 am
  2. I'm afraid I don't know what font that is, but there's a great website that can tell you. Go to and click on the What the Font tab to ask them what font it might be. By answering a few questions, their database can narrow it down. If it's not a common font, scanning in an image and posting it to the forum often elicits a response within a few days. I hope that helps!

    Posted by Rebecca Fabian | August 6, 2010, 8:52 pm

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