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Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by [Ursula Vernon]

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Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 184 ratings

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Product description

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

CHAPTER 1

Once upon a time, in a distant land, there was a beautiful princess named Harriet Hamsterbone, who, as her name indicated, was a hamster.

She was brave and intelligent and excelled in traditional hamster princess skills, like checkers and fractions.

She was not very good at trailing around the palace looking ethereal and sighing a lot, which are also traditional princess skills, but her parents hired deportment teachers to try and make up for it.

Her deportment teacher tried to make her walk around with a book on her head to improve her posture. He was later found in the library with a book stuffed in his mouth, and Harriet was grounded for a month.

She loved her riding quail Mumfrey, and rode him all over the countryside. Riding quail can’t actually fly, but they make excellent steeds for hamsters. Harriet and Mumfrey rode everywhere pretending to slay monsters, since her parents would not actually let her go out to slay real dragons. This was a source of great disappointment for her.

Despite being kept away from monsters, Harriet was generally happy and not as irritating as some princesses. Yet her mom and dad were often depressed, for they knew that a dark cloud hung over the princess, and indeed, the very kingdom.

For when the princess was only twelve days old, on the day she was to be christened, a dreadful curse had been placed upon her, and despite their best efforts, the hamster king and queen had no idea how to break it.

CHAPTER 2

The Christening: Ten Years Earlier

On the day of the princess’s christening, everyone in the palace and many of the most important people in the kingdom had come out to witness the ceremony.

No expense had been spared. In the usual Hamsterbone tradition, there were dukes and earls and a marquess, which is something like a marquis, and several viscounts and one regular count and even a praetor. (The praetor had taken a wrong turn some weeks ago while hunting. He didn’t know what the hamsters were talking about, but had heard something about free food. Praetors are elected officials in certain kinds of kingdoms, and they never pass up free meals.)

And of course there were three fairy god-mice, to administer the blessings, and the princess herself.

The assembled crowd shrank back when the wicked fairy appeared, for it was immediately obvious to all that this was no ordinary fairy, but in fact the wicked Ratshade, who had placed third on Fairy God-Mouse Today’s Most Wicked List for eleven years running. Rumor had it that she was a bit bitter about her inability to move up the list, and had been planning something big.

Ratshade was tall and thin, and her fingernails were so long that they curved in strange rippling claws and made it very difficult for her to blow her nose without causing herself serious injury. Her fur was as white as bone, her eyes were red, and she had a stump for a tail, because she had traded her tail for power when she was young. (This is a thing that rats can do, although most of them are very attached to their tails and wouldn’t dream of parting with them.)

Ratshade stomped across the dais toward the bassinet that contained the princess. Two fairy god-mice cowered back, but the youngest clutched the back of the bassinet, prepared to snatch the princess away if Ratshade tried to grab her.

But Ratshade did not touch the princess. She only gazed down at her, clicking her long nails together, and then she laughed, a laugh like bones clattering down a hole in the dark.

“Very well!” said the wicked fairy. “Very well! She is twelve days old today? Well, when she is twelve years old, she shall prick her finger upon a hamster wheel and fall into a sleep like death!”

Ratshade vanished in a cloud of oily smoke that smelled like burning hair, and the inhabitants of the kingdom looked at one another in dismay. The princess was cursed!

CHAPTER 3

What can we possibly do?” cried the dukes.

“There’s nothing we can do!” cried the earls.

“Very difficult to break, fairy curses,” said the marquess.

“They come true no matter what,” said the viscounts.

“They’ll bend the world around them and make themselves come true,” said the regular count.

“Maybe the other fairies can do something,” said the praetor, helping himself to the buffet.

Everyone stared at him.

“Brilliant!” cried the dukes and the earls and the marquess and the viscounts and the regular count. “We never would have thought of that!”

“I can’t believe my empire never conquered yours when we had the chance,” muttered the praetor into his sandwich.

So the three fairy god-mice put their heads together, while the hamster queen tried to comfort the princess, who had slept through the entire thing and did not actually need comforting.

“Right!” said the oldest of the fairy god-mice. “We cannot break Ratshade’s curse, O King Hamsterbone, but we can alter it a little. I have changed the curse so that when the princess falls asleep, she shall not need either food or drink while she is sleeping.”

“I guess that’s useful,” said the queen.

“What about bathrooms?” asked the king. “I mean, I always have to get up in the middle of the night to use the toilet, so—”

“No bathrooms either,” said the oldest fairy god-mouse, and gave the king a very stern look.

“And I,” said the middle god-mouse, “have changed the curse so that at the moment it takes effect, enormous thorny briars shall grow up around the princess’s tower, so that no one can get in.”

“Um,” said the king. “That . . . doesn’t sound quite so useful.”

“Tough,” said the middle fairy god-mouse, annoyed. “It’s already cast.”

The hamster king and queen sighed, and turned to the third god-mouse without much hope.

“So what did you do?” asked the king. “Set the palace on fire? Turn her into a snowflake or a chicken or something?”

--This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Review

A 2015 Texas Bluebonnet nominee
Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2015
Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2015
A New York Public Library Best Book for Reading and Sharing of 2015
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2015
An ALA Notable Children's Book of 2016

"[A] charming, funny, subversive middle-grade illustrated fantasy." — Cory Doctorow, New York Times bestselling author, activist, and co-editor of Boing Boing

* "A joy to read, and we can only hope that Harriet – long may she reign – will return in later installments.” —Booklist, starred review

* "Move over, Babymouse, there’s a new rodent in town!...Vernon has created a spunky heroine readers will cheer for and who will leave them eagerly searching for the happily ever after in the next installment." —School Library Journal, starred review

* "Harriet is her own hamster, but she takes her place proudly alongside both Danny Dragonbreath and Babymouse. Creatively fresh and feminist, with laughs on every single page." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "A book with all the makings of a hit. Readers will be laughing themselves silly."  —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Middle-graders with a taste for absurdity and snark will find plenty of both here...Fans of Holm’s Babymouse (Babymouse: Queen of the World, BCCB 12/05) series or Vernon’s Dragonbreath (BCCB 9/09) series will definitely want to tag along on Harriet’s future adventures." —BCCB --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B00O2BKKDA
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Dial Books (18 August 2015)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 70609 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 234 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 184 ratings

Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
184 global ratings

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BreadintheBone
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this for any children you know!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 9 September 2019
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Kate
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant story and characters, beautifully illustrated.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 February 2021
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K. L. Allen
5.0 out of 5 stars More Fun Than A Hamster in a Ball
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 May 2016
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Barb SImmons
5.0 out of 5 stars Harriet ain't no sleeping beauty
Reviewed in Canada on 9 August 2019
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geralyn
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Quality
Reviewed in Canada on 5 October 2020
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About the author

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Ursula Vernon is the author and illustrator of "Nurk," "Digger," "Dragonbreath," "Castle Hangnail," and the forthcoming "Hamster Princess." Her Eisner-nominated comic "Digger" won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story and the Mythopoeic Award, and her children's book "Dragonbreath" won the Sequoyah Award in 2013.

Ursula grew up in Oregon and Arizona, went to college at Macalester College in Minnesota, and stayed there for ten years, until she finally learned to drive in deep snow and was obligated to leave the state.

Having moved across the country several times, she eventually settled in Pittsboro, North Carolina, where she works full-time as an artist, writer, and creator of oddities. She lives with her husband, a beagle, and a small collection of cats.