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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Hamster Princess: Of Mice and Magic. Written and illustrated by Ursula Vernon. Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin. $16.99 ages 8 and up

"Harriet was in an excellent mood. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and she had a quest to follow and some fellow princesses to save. The notion that failure would mean the eventual end of her own kingdom did not bother her. Failure, in Harriet's world, happened to other people. "This is just what we need, Mumfrey," she said."

I have very much admired Princess Harriet Hamsterbone since I met her last year in her first adventure, Harriet the Invincible. She's back this year with a vengeance in a new and Harrietesque version of the Twelve Dancing Princesses.

It hasn't been long since she broke the fairy curse that had granted her invincibility. In doing so, she can no longer cliff dive and she in need of a diversion:

"Many of the ogres had given up eating people and
taken to vegetarianism in a big way so that she
wouldn't show up and start whacking them with
her sword. Jousting contests now had rules stating
that if you'd won in the last three years and you
were a hamster whose name started with H, you
had to sit out and let somebody else try. She'd
been away from home for three weeks, just
trying to find something to do, and there was

As she and Mumfrey wander nearby roads looking for adventure they meet an old woman in need of help. Harriet is an astute purveyor of the landscape and her 'fairy' sense is at its best. When the fairy shrew asks in aiding twelve princesses, she offers incentive for Harriet to get involved. The young women are in a fix, cursed to dance every night and at the mercy of their weirdly organized despot father. Harriet cannot resist.

To assist in her quest to find the origin of the curse that entraps them, Harriet is given a poncho of invisibility, and sets out to break the curse, free the daughters to their own destinies, and then return home to the promise of a limited charm - it is now, once again, safe for the brave and inventive Harriet to cliff dive.

Oh, and to move toward her next adventure. Let's hope that we get to share it soon.

Funny, quick to read, with a young royal who shuns the pampered, protected lives of so many other princesses. Harriet does not fit the mold!

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