Thursday, December 10, 2015

Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible

Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible
Ursula Vernon
Penguin, 2015  247 pgs.
Grades 2-5
Hamster Princess Series #1

Veteran author/Illustrator Vernon, known for the popular Dragonbreath series, presents a series opener in the same graphic/text hybrid format. This series features a hamster princess named Harriet. Much like Sleeping Beauty, Harriet is cursed with sleep upon her twelfth birthday. A spell which can only be broken by a Prince's kiss. Harriet's parents try to keep knowledge of the curse from her. When they finally reveal her fate, imagine their surprise when Harriet is thrilled. She realizes that now she is invincible and no harm can come to her until the curse is fulfilled at age twelve. Harriet, who is not your typical drippy princess, hits the road with her trusty quail, taking on bad guys, specifically ogre-cats. She runs around the countryside fighting crime and having adventures until the time comes to face her twelfth birthday and drowsy fate. The evil fairy arrives and Harriet manages to fight back, infecting the evil fairy with the deep sleep instead of herself. The problem is, the rest of the castle, including Harriet's parents, are all sleeping. She must break the curse and save the day, which will take courage, determination, and fast thinking. Stay tuned for Harriet's next adventure based on the fairy tale the Twelve Dancing Princesses, Of Mice and Magic, coming in March, 2016.

Using the same format that she so effectively utilizes in the Dragonbreath series, Vernon creates a new comic/fiction hybrid series aimed at a female audience. Boys, who love the Dragonbreath series, will also enjoy it, but may need to get past the glitzy purple and pink cover. Harriet is not a damsel in distress. She is fast thinking and fearless. Tougher than the princes, Harriet and her quail companion kick butt wherever they go, outsmarting even the evil fairy. The action never stops. Nor does the humor. The book is laugh-out-loud funny with lots of puns and fairy tale references. Harriet turns for help to the "Crone of the Blighted Waste", which is a reference to Howl's Moving Castle, one of my favorite books, which I thought was pretty cool. The book is tightly written with a solid plot. Even though there are comic illustrations on every page which help to tell the story, this is no silly comic. Vernon does not cheap out on vocabulary and offers readers a quality book with both silly and sophisticated humor. Harriet the Invincible reads quickly and will appeal to both bookworms and reluctant readers alike. The sparkling cover is appealing and the book is flying off my library shelves. Maybe boys who love Dragonbreath will look past the pink and give it a try. This is a book to be enjoyed by anyone who cracks into it.

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