cover image Harriet the Invincible

Harriet the Invincible

Ursula Vernon. Dial, $12.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3983-3

This uproariously fun first entry in the Hamster Princess series begins when an uninvited evil fairy spoils Princess Harriet’s christening and curses the baby to a deathlike sleep at age 12. Sound familiar? Well, it is, but this future sleeping beauty is a rodent, and the curse involves not a spinning wheel but a hamster wheel. When Harriet Hamsterbone, no fan of standard princess stuff like deportment lessons and kissing princes, learns about the curse at age 10, she’s ecstatic—because she needs to be alive for the curse to work, she realizes that she’s essentially invincible. (Harriet celebrates by jumping off a tower, then “spent the next two years cliff-diving, dragon-slaying, and jousting on the professional circuit.”) When the curse magic gets twisted, Harriet demonstrates bravery, inventiveness, and a sword-sharp wit as she tries to save the kingdom. Shifting between prose passages and indigo-tinted cartoon sequences, Vernon (the Dragonbreath books) upends fairy-tale conventions and gender stereotypes left and right in a book with all the makings of a hit. Readers will be laughing themselves silly. Ages 8–12. Agent: Helen Breitwieser, Cornerstone Literary. (Aug.)