Fifteen-year-old Ben (short for Benevolence) finds herself suddenly--and reluctantly--next in line to the throne of Montagne when her uncle, the king, and her mother are murdered, and her father vanishes. The teen is not your average princess: she is overweight, ill-tempered, impetuous, and completely lacking in sophistication. In order to prepare her for rule when she comes of age--and for a marriage that will strengthen the kingdom--ultra-stern Aunt Sophia, the regent, subjects Ben to lessons in etiquette, dancing, sewing, and the myriad other disciplines required of a queen.
Ben, mourning her mother and wondering what happened to her father, balks at the strict regimen and her aunt's harshness, and her disrespect results in the princess' being locked in a tower room as an "opportunity to reflect on her newfound responsibilities." It is in this tower that Ben discovers a hidden room containing a book of magical spells. Night after night, she teaches herself incantations with varying degrees of success (while creating fire, she sets her hair aflame) and learns to fly on a broomstick.
These talents become useful when Queen Sophia holds a Cinderella-style ball and Ben escapes from the festivities, unwittingly putting herself in a perilous situation it takes all her resourcefulness to overcome. Told with humor and charm, and in a writing style reminiscent of great Victorian literature, the story of Ben's transformation from self-centered teen to effective leader is certain to attract a strong following. 344 pages. Ages 12-16
Recommended by Barbara Karp, Librarian.
PRINCESS BEN by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, Trailer by June Henson of Downing M.S., Flower Mound, Texas