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The Birthday Ball
By Jules Feiffer (illustrator) and Lois Lowry
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Bibliographic Detail
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
Publication date April 12, 2010
Pages 186
Binding Hardcover
Edition 1
Book category Juvenile Fiction
ISBN-13 9780547238692
ISBN-10 054723869X
Dimensions 0.75 by 6 by 8.25 in.
Weight 0.68 lbs.
Availability§ Out of Print
Original list price $16.00
Other format details juvenile
§As reported by publisher
Summaries and Reviews description: Review: Product Description
Princess Patricia Priscilla is bored with her royal life and the excitement surrounding her sixteenth birthday ball. Doomed to endure courtship by three grotesquely unappealing noblemen, she escapes her fate--for a week. Disguised as a peasant, she attends the village school as the smart new girl, "Pat," and attracts friends and the attention of the handsome schoolmaster. Disgusting suitors, lovable peasants, and the clueless king and queen collide at the ball, where Princess Patricia Priscilla calls the shots. What began as a cure for boredom becomes a chance for Princess Patricia Priscilla to break the rules and marry the man she loves.

A Q&A with Lois Lowry, Author of The Birthday Ball

Q: In the book, Princess Patricia Priscilla disguises herself as a peasant to attend school. Have you ever gone anywhere incognito?

A: Funny you asked! Back when I used to write for the Maine Times, I once took off my wedding ring and went to a singles dance. Such events were unusual back then--this would have been early 1970s. I remember meeting--and dancing with--a guy whose occupation was gravedigger. "That's seasonal work, of course," he said.

Q: Many of your books end with people finding strength or love or hope in another human being. Do you set out to impart a message of kindness in your work?

A: No, I never set out with anything. But when on my Facebook profile there was a place to fill in "Religion," I typed in "the Dalai Lama." I did so not because I am Buddhist--I'm not--but because I remembered reading that he once said "My religion is kindness." That seems the best sort of message, to me.

Q: Your first book was published in 1977. How do you think publishing for young people has changed since then? And have you noticed a difference in how kids interact with authors and the kinds of questions they ask you?

A: Writing for kids has become a very trendy occupation. Probably soon "children’s author" will replace "lawyer" as the answer to "What is virtually everybody becoming?" And so it is now a more competitive field, which is probably a good thing, because competition always raises the quality. But on the downside, it has become more commercial, I think, and sometimes less literary.
As far as kids' communication, in the early days it was handwritten, heartfelt letters. Now it is more often unpunctuated, school-assignment e-mails. With wonderful exceptions, of course.

The covers of Lois Lowry's books often have interesting stories and personal connections to Lowry. Here she talks about a few:

The Giver (1993):
I was doing a magazine article about Carl Nelson, a painter who lived on an island off the coast of Maine. By the time I wrote The Giver, he had died, but I had saved some of the photos I had done and used one the cover.

Messenger (2004):
This features a wonderful boy named Jesse, fourteen years old when I photographed him, and growing his first mustache. He offered to shave but I told him he didn't need to; I shaved off his mustache with Photoshop.

Number the Stars (1989):
The photograph on Number the Stars is of a family friend's daughter, taken originally as a portrait. Anna Katerina Johnson, who was ten when her parents hired me to photograph her in 1977, now has four children of her own.

The Silent Boy (2003):
This cover photograph was taken by my grandmother's sister, Mary Fulton Boyd, in 1912. She grew up in Pennsylvania, and after college went to New York to study photography--such a bold step for a woman in that era! I always admired her, and she left me her photographs when she died.

The Willoughbys (2008):
Illustrated by me!

(Photo © Neil Giordano)

Book cover for 9780547238692 Book cover for 9781444905878
With Emma Thomson | from Hachette Books (June 1, 2013); titled "A Birthday Ball"
9781444905878 | details & prices | 24 pages | 7.50 × 7.25 × 0.25 in. | Rec. grade levels Preschool | 0.40 lbs | List price $8.99
About: Pearl is an ordinary girl - but she has a very extraordinary secret.
The price comparison is for this edition
With Lois Lowry | 1 edition from Houghton Mifflin (April 12, 2010)
9780547238692 | details & prices | 186 pages | 6.00 × 8.25 × 0.75 in. | Rec. grade levels 3-4 | 0.68 lbs | List price $16.00
About: Amazon.
Book cover for 9780547577104
With Lois Lowry | Reprint edition from Houghton Mifflin (September 13, 2011)
9780547577104 | details & prices | 185 pages | 5.25 × 7.50 × 0.50 in. | Rec. grade levels 3-4 | 0.40 lbs | List price $6.99
About: A wry, dry, laugh-out-loud princess tale by the hilarious Lois Lowry, with illustrations by Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer.
With Lois Lowry | from Houghton Mifflin (April 12, 2010)
9780547488240 | details & prices | List price $16.00
Book cover for 9780606234047
With Lois Lowry | Reprint edition from Turtleback Books (September 13, 2011)
9780606234047 | details & prices | 186 pages | 6.50 × 4.25 × 0.75 in. | Rec. grade levels 3-4 | 0.52 lbs | List price $17.20

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