The Princess Present is a short novel in the delightful Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot. Those who have not encountered these books about the American girl who discovers she is Princess of Genovia obviously have no pre-teen or teenage girls in their life (although it would be hard to have missed the ads for the movies made from the series.)
Plus it made a perfect argument for my spouse in the ongoing battle about never opening a book during a chore, since I have been known to stand in one spot, aimlessly polishing a hole in the counter (a la Jeff Daniels in Pleasantville), as I read.
The action in this book has irrepressible Mia (played by Anne Hathaway in the Disney movies) in Genovia for Christmas. The bad news is, she has princess duties to perform: shaking a traditional olive branch in the fireplace to bless the hearth, entertaining other young royals (including Britain's Prince William), and helping her Grandmère (elegantly portrayed in the movies by Julie Andrews) rule Genovia.
The good news is, she gets to invite her American best friend Lilly, and her heart-throb, Lilly's brother Michael.
As always with Princess Mia, her plans go awry. Lilly's rude t-shirts and casual approach to palace protocol set Grandmère's teeth in a grim line. Michael doesn't seem the least bit jealous, even when Mia dances with Prince William. She has a little problem with a stray cat. And she's having trouble finding the perfect Christmas present for Michael.
With notes of O. Henry's Gift of the Magi, and many sly allusions to the movies ("...movies that aren't strictly FACTUAL, if you know what I mean..." the young lady reminds us), The Princess Present is an excellent choice for the bookshelf of your daughter, niece or grandchild—especially if she is already familiar with Mia, Princess of Genovia.