Hamster princess Harriet is back in Vernon’s take on “Cinderella.”
Twelve-year-old Harriet has zero interest in marriage, especially when most princes she knows aren’t particularly pleasant, but her optimistic mother has other ideas; the queen thinks that a masked ball would liberate Harriet from her intimidating reputation. But it’s a reputation Harriet is proud of, and the queen’s idea of a masked ball sadly doesn’t allow for Harriet’s costume ideas, like Genghis Prawn, “unstoppable leader of the lobster horde.” Instead, the belle of the ball is a gorgeous, mysterious newcomer wearing glass shoes. While everyone else is enchanted, Harriet, concerned about how easy it was for an uninvited intruder to waltz right in, schemes to learn the mysterious hamster’s secret. She learns that Ella (or Whiskerella) is stuck attending balls until she’s swept off her feet by a prince. Ella finds the princes just as odious as Harriet does—and the shoes are painful—but her wishes are less important than the “happily ever after” that the fairy godmouse insists she have, as “Everry little girrrl drrreams of marrrying a prrrince!” The wild struggle to prevent the unwanted happily-ever-after includes razor-sharp takedowns of Cinderella tropes, stampeding quails, and a running gag about a lizard with bladder troubles. After all the silliness, it ends on a surprisingly beautiful note.
Readers will have a ball with this hilarious, charming story. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 7-12)