Princess Ben

Common Sense Media says

Bewitching tale with a refreshingly real heroine.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Misunderstandings and naughty behavior occur, but those involved eventually realize the error of their ways. The characters experience substantial growth and evolution.


Historical violence with swordfights and the death of three people. An adult whacks a teen's hands with a rod. A person is kicked and yelled at while imprisoned.


A girl searches for suitable suitors, two teens kiss, and two weddings occur.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

People drink wine, as was common in the novel's setting.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is romance and some historical violence in this novel. More importantly the novel deals with body image, societal pressures, magic, and parental death. None of the violence is graphic and the author approaches parental death with sensitivity.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Princess Ben was a plump and content princess with a wonderful family that kept her shielded from the royal court. When her parents and the king die mysteriously, Ben is at the mercy of her aunt, Queen Sophia, and the invading army of a neighboring kingdom.

Is it any good?


Catherine Murdock joins the ranks of writers who seek to reinvent the fairytale genre with wit, fun, and a dash of feminism. Indeed, Princess Ben is a real girl's princess; she sulks, gets angry, has no time for the foolishness of Queen Sophia's "lessons," and is far from the willowy thin princesses of other stories (the girl likes her treacle tart). She holds her own destiny in her hands, and her evolution from sheltered, indulged child to selfless, proactive ruler gives this tale a modern edge.

Beyond the fantastic heroine, there are so many adventures, surprises, and plot twists that readers won't be able to put the book down. If they can get past the sometimes overly flowery language, readers and parents alike will love Ben's story.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how difficult it is to change your opinion of someone, particularly from bad to good. Ben's opinion of Queen Sophia was negatively influenced by her mother. Have you ever had another person's influence affect your thoughts about someone?

Book details

Author:Catherine Murdock
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Children's Books
Publication date:March 30, 2008
Number of pages:344
Publisher's recommended age(s):10
Read aloud:10
Read alone:10

This review of Princess Ben was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

It was O.K.

I thought this book was a big disapointment, considering her other two books were amazing...i would definately reccomend Dairy Farm and The Off Season (her other books) more than this book.
Teen, 14 years old Written byKristeeni September 17, 2011

Great Read!

I think this is a great book and didnt really find anything extremely negative about. Generally, it doesnt deal with too much of the heavy stuff. There is some violence, but the author does not describe it in a way that is overly gory. I read this book about a year ago and i still remember almost every detail of it...just talking about it makes me want to pick it up again!
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 17 years old Written bynewmillenium January 8, 2011

A clever find for readers of all ages

I loved this book! It felt like a classic fairy tale with modern attitude. The main character isn't perfect and her flaws are very relatable. She is a great role model for girls because she doesn't aim for the beauty and popularity of today. Overall, the story was very clever and I enjoyed reading every minute of it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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