cover image The Royal Switch

The Royal Switch

Sarah Ferguson, Dutchess of York, Duchess Of York Ferguson. Delacorte Press, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32177-8

The Duchess's first foray into middle-grade fiction may be something less than the jewel in the crown of that genre, but these companion novels have a solid mass appeal. The plots are as predictable as they are improbable: in the first, set in London, the look-alike heroines Princess Amanda of Powers Court and Emily Jane Chornak of Brooklyn Heights inadvertently swap identities; in the second, which is set in New York City, Amanda and Emily foil a ring of jewelry thieves and help the homeless. However formulaic, the stories unfold with a fair amount of brio, aided by dialogue generously sprinkled with ""smashing,"" ""awesome"" and the like, and by insider info about palace protocol. Breezy as the stories are, the author grafts onto them a convincing poor-little-rich-girl pathos, as both sets of parents are so busy that they continually neglect and disappoint their daughters; the royal pair is particularly chilly. (Windsor-watchers may be interested to learn that the royal characters' relation to the queen remains tactfully obscure.) Readers who have fantasized about being a princess-or rubbing shoulders with one-will find these sufficiently glittery good fun. Ages 7-11. (Nov.) FYI: A sweepstakes offered by the publisher will award a trip for four to London, where tea with the author is on the agenda.