Goodreads: The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdome
Series: The League of Princes #1
Published: May 1, 2012
Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change.
Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, the princes stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.
Christopher Healy’s Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is a completely original take on the world of fairy tales, the truth about what happens after “happily ever after.” It’s a must-have for middle grade readers who enjoy their fantasy adventures mixed with the humor of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Witty black-and-white drawings by Todd Harris add to the fun.
With a wild cast of characters, a rollicking plot, and a great sense of humor, The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom exemplifies so much of what I love about middle grade fiction. Healy, a superb writer with a fertile imagination, puts telling a good story foremost. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is the type of book that is difficult to put down because it is just so interesting and unexpected.
The protagonists are four Prince Charmings: the guys from “Sleeping Beauty,” “Snow White,” “Cinderella,” and “Rapunzel.” They are not, however, quite what readers will expect. When the story opens, only one of the bunch is particularly admirable—Prince Liam, from “Sleeping Beauty.” Handsome, heroic, romantic, and dedicated to the good of his kingdom, he is the type of prince many countries dream of. The other Princes Charming? Not so much. Prince Frederick is so much of a pampered dandy he never risks doing anything interesting, Prince Gustav comes across as an ineffectual brute, and Prince Duncan, though eccentrically charming is, well, eccentric. These guys are not heroes. But the great thing is: by the end of the story, they are. All four Princes Charming develop their strengths and learn to work together in order perform great deeds, and watching them learn is magical.
The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom also features strong female characters, in both the villain and heroine varieties. The spunky Cinderella will be a favorite with many readers, as she sets out to experience the adventures she could never have while living with her stepmother. Meanwhile, the witch from “Rapunzel” is deliciously evil as the main antagonist, and Sleeping Beauty turns out to have quite the attitude. Hopefully more is forthcoming from these ladies in the sequel.
Although populated by diverse, strong personalities, the overall voice of the book is quirky—the voice of a narrator telling you all the crazy and ridiculous things about fairy tales you never knew, and relishing every moment of the job. He butts in once in a while, so excited that he nearly gives away events that are going to happen chapters later—before he catches himself and sticks to tantalizing hints. He also delights in messing with readers by titling all 31 chapters things like, “Prince Charming Hugs Trees” and “Prince Charming Needs a Bath,” realizing there is no way to tell which Prince Charming is being referenced.
The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is the ideal middle grade read. It is clever and developed enough to appeal to readers of all ages, but is also flat out fun. Perfect for fantasy fans and those who enjoy books The Nicholas Benedict Society or The Grimm Chronicles. Recommended.
First line: “Prince Charming is afraid of old ladies. Didn’t know that, did you?”
Discuss! Who is your favorite Prince Charming, either from traditional fairy tales, or from The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom?