Friday, December 8, 2017
Hamster Princess: Giant Trouble, by Ursula Vernon. Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin. 2017. $17.99 ages 8 and up
I am sorry I will not be
home for dinner. There
was an inconvenient
beanstalk. It is not too
large, only a mile or so
high. Also, there is a giant.
He is much smaller than
the beanstalk, but wicked.
The beanstalk is not wicked,
so far as I know."
Here's another illustrated novel for younger readers. Perfect for fans of the previous Hamster Princess books. This is the fourth and follows Harriet the Invincible, Of Mice and Magic and Rapunzel. Full of comic adventure and familiar characters, this tale is a retelling of the Jack and the Beanstalk folktale.
As in the original, magic beans are an enticement. The chipmunk seller is long-winded. Mumfrey, Harriet's loyal steed, is short on patience. Eating one of the beans while waiting for the talk to stop results in a severe case of gas which keeps the two from returning to the castle. In the morning they find a towering beanstalk has grown nearby. The soothing tones of a harp entice them upward where they find a castle, and an enslaved harpist who wants to be free to follow her musical dreams. Harriet can relate and considers drumming for Strings, the harpist.
The adventure continues. Freeing Strings is the first order of business, dealing with the Giant, and cliff diving are all part of the rescue operation. As in previous books, there is lots of humor in the encounters. The wordplay is smart and handled skillfully. The zany cartoon-like images add context and interest. Fans are sure to love it, and will encourage their friends to give Harriet and Mumfrey a try. It won't be long before all four books are in constant circulation.
"Oh, bother. I've already tried to sell beans
to you, haven't I?"
"You have!" said Harriet indignantly. "And now
there's a ginormous beanstalk sitting over there
that somebody's going to have to clean up! You
should warn people about those beans!"
"Oh, you got the grows-into-a-giant-beanstalk one ...
Yeah, that one's a problem."
He waved his remaining two beans
in front of Harriet. "But I've got these others!
Guaranteed magic! Less likely to pose a
threat to air traffic!"