Princess Ben

Princess Ben

4.0 93
by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

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Benevolence is not your typical princess.
With her parents lost to assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia. Starved and miserable, locked in the castle’s highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively… See more details below


Benevolence is not your typical princess.
With her parents lost to assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia. Starved and miserable, locked in the castle’s highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle pantries, setting her hair on fire . . . But Ben’s private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat to her kingdom. Can Ben save the country and herself from foul tyranny?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Murdock (Dairy Queen) reworks now standard elements of the modern fairy tale-reluctant princess, haughty prince, evil queen, portentous prophesies-for this frothy coming-of-age story. Princess Ben (short for Benevolence) is effectively orphaned after assassins kill her uncle the king and her mother, and her father disappears. Now heiress to Montagne's throne, Ben is forced into the tutelage of her aunt, Queen Sophia, with a regimen of dance lessons, embroidery and dieting, all in order to be married off to Florian, crown prince of menacing Drachensbett. After their umpteenth clash, the queen locks Ben in a tower, where Ben discovers a hidden portal, a wizarding room and a book of spells. Through her forays in magic, Ben learns that if Drachensbett's leaders can't marry their way into controlling Montagne, they will take it by force, and she will have to use her smarts to save her country. There's no new ground broken-the sardonic, witty repartee between Ben and Florian would fit right into a Shrek sequel-but the story (think poor man's Gail Carson Levine) is thoroughly entertaining. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)

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Children's Literature - Judy Crowder
Take a good measure of a resilient young girl who can work out her problems, add some humor and elements of classic fairy tales, then blend in some coming-of-age aspects, and you have a splendid young adult novel in Princess Ben. Princess Benevolence—Ben—is the only daughter of two doting parents and is not your typical princess. Her father is third in line for the throne (brother to the current King Walter, who has a son). Ben's life is a carefree one until a terrible tragedy falls upon the family, and she finds herself alone with only widowed Queen Sophia, a harsh guardian. Ben is taken from her comfortable home only to be thrust into loveless palace life—and training to be "real" royalty. Sophia insists on throwing a Cinderella-type ball, so Ben can meet Prince Florian of the neighboring (and sometimes hostile) kingdom of Drachensbett. Thankfully, Ben has found her salvation—a hidden magician's chamber with a book of magic spells, the greatest of which enables her to split in half, leaving her body in a coma-like state while she roams the secret passages of the castle. Will the magic Ben learns help her cope—or better yet escape—her life in the kingdom of Montagne? Her bumbling attempts throw her—disguised as a peasant boy—into the camp of Florian himself, who speaks openly of kissing Ben awake and claiming Montagne for Drachensbatt, even though Florian's opinion of Ben is the opposite of a sleeping beauty. Will Ben be able to save her beloved kingdom? What about her love-hate for Prince Florian? What horror dwells in the mountains above Montagne? Murdock has crafted a wonderful, compelling read. One the reader gets used to the stiltedspeech of Ben's world (good vocabulary building!) she or he will not be able to put this book down. Reviewer: Judy Crowder
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
A good cover helps to sell this story. As in many familiar fairy tales and traditional tales, this takes place in an imaginary kingdom. The Princess (Benevolence) has been pampered and loved until the horrible day that her life as she knows it is destroyed. Her parents set out to perform a traditional ritual in the countryside and they are attacked. Her mother is killed and her father, the king, disappears. That leaves the cold-hearted aunt as Princess Ben's guardian, and the Princess is ridiculed, starved, and imprisoned. There are many in the kingdom who loved her parents and care for Princess Ben, but they must do so at their own peril. Through the hardships, Princess Ben starts to grow up. No longer is she the slightly spoiled, pudgy teenager—she learns to think clearly, to discipline herself, to learn the necessary magic that will free herself and her people, and to finally find happiness. An old-fashioned kind of tale that will appeal most to younger YAs. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
VOYA - Debbie Clifford
Princess Benevolence's indulgent parents have raised her in simple surroundings, away from the Montagne royal court. With the deaths of her uncle the king and her mother in addition to her father's disappearance, Ben is taken into the castle by Queen Regent Sophia to learn behavior befitting the heir to the throne. Sophia is demanding and sometimes cruel. After Ben's insolence gets the best of her, Sophia locks her in a tower where the princess discovers a hidden chamber and a book of magic. She tries out assorted spells with varying degrees of success. Her training comes in handy when Montagne is threatened by their neighbor, Drachensbett. In an effort to avoid war, Sophia arranges a ball to allow potential suitors-especially the Crown Prince of Drachensbett-to look over the Princess Benevolence. Ben flees the ball on a magic broom with unexpected results. This wonderfully written fairy tale is unusual in that the princess is not the typical beautiful, lithe, accomplished young woman. Rather she is petulant, overweight, impulsive, and totally unpolished. As the story progresses, Ben learns discretion and charm and blossoms into a nearly perfect fairy-tale princess. Readers will sympathize with the orphan Ben and be frustrated with her self-indulgence yet ultimately cheer for her to reach her happily-ever-after. This compelling story is full of adventure, humor, a touch of romance, and the occasional reference to popular fairy tales, making it a thoroughly delightful read. Reviewer: Debbie Clifford
School Library Journal

Gr 6-10- After 15-year-old Princess Benevolence's parents and her uncle, the king, are presumed killed by agents of neighboring, much-larger Drachensbett, she moves to the palace to live with her widowed aunt, Sophia, now the queen regent, to be groomed as heir to the throne. When Ben discovers magic within the walls of her castle home, she finds a means for asserting her independence and escaping her aunt's control. After a series of adventures and hardships away from the castle, including time spent as a prisoner and drudge in a Drachensbett army camp, Ben ultimately returns to the castle to accept her royal duties. Since her previous behavior has led to questions about her suitability for the throne, she must prove herself to her friends and enemies, using her magic and her wits to find her own adult role. At first, Ben is somewhat spoiled and childish, but the loss of her parents forces her to grow and mature. The first-person narrative is presented as the writing of a much-older Ben, looking back at her life, which allows for both immediacy and frequent humorous comments. The formal tone contrasts with Ben's droll remarks about her many misfortunes. The magic is a significant tool, but her intellect and decisions for how to use her powers are more important than her limited repertoire of spells. Murdock's first venture into fantasy offers a fairy tale with several twists and surprises, and readers will be drawn into the world and moods that she creates.-Beth L. Meister, Pleasant View Elementary School, Franklin, WI

Kirkus Reviews
Princess Benevolence isn't a run-of-the-mill spoiled princess. Ben doesn't want to live in the royal castle wearing beautiful dresses. She'd rather sulk in her family apartments over the barracks, staying a scruffy, indulged ragamuffin. But Ben's parents are ambushed, leaving her, now the heir to the throne, in the care of her haughty aunt, the regent queen Sophia. Sophia is cold and loveless, determined to mold Ben into a marriageable princess. Ben's aunt starves her to make her willowy, forces her to take dance lessons to make her graceful and locks her in a barren bedroom cell to break her spirit. When she discovers a hidden door in her bleak bedroom, she throws herself into the task of learning magic. Maybe witchcraft will provide escape from Sophia, salvation from marriage and vengeance for her parents' deaths? Ben's coming-of-age fits well into a now-common fantasy mold: She grows into a self-reliant heroine, kicking butt while acquiring social graces on her own terms, saving the kingdom and the handsome prince-she's a fairy-tale princess for the modern girl. An amusing, heartwarming adventure put forth in richly flavored prose. (Fantasy. 11-13)

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Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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3 MB
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Catherine Murdock grew up on a small farm in Connecticut and now lives in suburban Philadelphia with her husband, two brilliant unicycling children, several cats, and a one-acre yard that she is slowly transforming into a wee, but flourishing ecosystem. She is the author of several books, including the popular Dairy Queen series starring lovable heroine D. J. Schwenk,  Princess Ben, and Wisdom's Kiss.

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