Questions on Princess Ben

•  Beyond appearance, how does Ben differ from tradition fairy-tale princesses? In what ways is she the same? How does she compare to the heroines in other books you’ve read recently?

•  Many classic fairy tales appear in Princess Ben; often the reference is altered or reversed in some way. What part do these play in the story?

•  Many times in the story Ben “knows” something, only to find that the truth may be different from what she had believed. How does Ben’s presentation of “truth” affect your experience as a reader?

• Over the course of the story, Ben’s opinion of Sophia changes dramatically. How would you explain Queen Sophia’s behavior in the first half of the book now that you’ve read the ending?

• Ben’s feelings about power, in particular her view of her own authority, also change dramatically. What are some of the kinds of power described in Princess Ben? How do these different forms of power affect and define the various characters – and the kingdom of Montagne?

• Prince Florian, too, evolves. Why might a reader find him sympathetic – particularly given that he is a villain for much of the story?

Princess Ben literally has a “fairy tale ending.” What do you think of the fact that Ben, at the story’s conclusion, ends up doing precisely what her parents and Drachensbett wanted? How does this reflect on her? On women generally?

Princess Ben employs unusual words – obscure, sometimes foreign. Define several of these unfamiliar words using a dictionary or (for foreign words) an online translation program. Does knowing the precise meaning change your understanding of the book?

• Describe the role (or roles) that food plays in the story.

  1. Etiquette and manners feature prominently in Princess Ben. Is there any element of Princess Ben that might be applicable to modern life?

  2. Discuss body image and how it relates to Ben, fairy tales, and other writing genres. Does Ben have anything to offer modern readers?

  3. Princess Ben is a very different book from Dairy Queen, but are the two main characters that different? What do you think D.J. and Ben would think of each other?

•  If you were write a sequel to Princess Ben, what would it include?

Chapter One   •   Chapter Five audio excerpt   •   the dedication

questions for the author   •   about the book   •   about the cover

I just really wanted to write to you to inform you how much I enjoyed Princess Ben. The first time I read it I had a dictionary on hand, and it was really refreshing to have a book that challenged me, but had an enjoyable story and fun characters.

Princess Ben herself is on my list of favorite literary heroines, by the way. I love how true she is to herself, not to mention her pig-headedness. Oddly I really liked the character of Sophia, too. She struck me as incredibly strong -- perhaps in all the wrong ways, but she fascinated me, and I admire her determination.

- Alys

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