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The Birthday Ball: 04/30/11

cover art

Although I am long past my childhood, Lois Lowry has become one of my favorite authors in the last decade. She writes for a wide range of ages from preschoolers up through high schoolers. I put her books in the same category as Anita Shreve; I know each book will be very different but well worth the read.

Lowry's 2010 middle grade book is a fantasy called The Birthday Ball. It's set up a little bit like Mark Twain's The Prince and Pauper except with a female lead, Princess Patricia Priscilla. Her sixteenth birthday is arriving and she's forced to pick a future husband from the suitors who have arrived to help her celebrate. She'd rather not.

In fact she'd rather experience the village life her maid describes to her every day. So she borrows her clothes, sneaks out and enrolls herself in the local school.

When the book first started and the premise was being set up I have to admit I cringed. If The Birthday Ball were written by anyone else, I probably wouldn't have given the book enough of a chance. Once "Pat" starts going to school and making friends she begins to blossom as a character.

In terms of tone, The Birthday Ball is one of Lowry's lighter fares. It's silly like The Willoughbys but it does have a positive message for young girls.

Four stars. Review copy via NetGalley.

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