Murdock, Catherine. Princess Ben. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008.
I will have to admit that I was a bit nervous about this book when I glanced at the title. After all, I do live in a city where a person who names him/herself "Princess Ben" would be warmly accepted. I felt much better once I discovered that the nickname Ben was short for Benevolent. An unusual name, perhaps, but the princess protagonist is decidedly female.
All that to say, I really, really liked this book. The princess has some definite poor habits, habits which do her a great disservice once she is thrust into the position of heir to the throne. Her kingdom stands on the brink of being swallowed by another larger kingdom. Ben has to choose whether she will continue in her old ways or embrace the royal persona which has been handed to her.
This book is filled with all sorts of traditional fairy-tale elements: secret rooms, dragons, disguises, mistaken identity, magic beans traded for a cow - yet none of it seems forced, fake, or hokey. This book is well-written, the protagonist is believeable and entertaining, and I would gladly place this book on my classroom shelf, should I ever again have a classroom or a shelf.