Princess Ben



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.

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

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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; OK 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

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, 16 years old Written byLetsbebalenced January 24, 2010

good read for mid to older teens

I found this book a very exciting and unusual read.I only had a problem with one part, when a friend of the prince talks about his lover and her bed. Its not graphic and only hints but it's still wrong. Only children who fully understand why, and believe. that you shouldn't have premarital sex, should read this.. There were a lot of words that I didn't recognize so if your planning to read this keep a dictionary at hand. I loved it!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Educational value
Great messages
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


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