Ginjer L. Clarke (Children's Literature) This author certainly knows the hearts and minds of young girls. Many of them will identify with the feeling of being pony-crazed and can simultaneously play out their fantasies of being princesses. This series is more in the mold of The Princess Diaries, though, where the princess is reluctant in her role as royalty. Princess Aurelia (“call me Ellie”) is uninterested in the formality and rigidness of a princess’s life, and instead yearns to help take care of her four ponies--even the messy parts. She gets the chance to do these chores when the new groom, a young woman named Meg, arrives and asks Ellie to help, unlike the previous strict groom, who never let Ellie do anything but ride her ponies because work would be un-princesslike. The stakes of the story are raised when Ellie sees a young girl mysteriously spying on her around the stables. When Ellie’s pony Sundance goes missing one night in a rainstorm, she immediately suspects this stranger. Readers will be pleased with the satisfying ending of safe horse and new friend, as well as Ellie’s newfound bravery and responsibility (not to mention the free stickers inside the book). This is the first book in the “Pony-Crazed Princess” series. 2006 (orig. 2004), Hyperion Paperbacks for Children, $3.99. Ages 8 to 12.