A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The story is set in a fictitious country whose culture, gods, and so on resemble those of ancient Greece. Zeus and Athene play a key role behind the scenes, and there are occasional references to Greek mythology, such as the labors of Hercules and the River Styx. Kids with an interest in mythology and the ancient world will enjoy comparing Alexos's story to those of other ancient princes, historical or otherwise.
Strong messages about duty; the value of family, forgiveness, and empathy; loyalty among friends and countrymen; and kindness.
Positive Role Models
As a heroic character whose life is forever changed by his one horrible, inexplicable deed, Alexos does his best to make amends and be a good leader. Two adults who become father figures, Alexos's doctor Suliman and the mysterious Claudio, offer support and wisdom. Little brother Teo is sweet, childish innocence personified.
Violence & Scariness
The most disturbing scene's violence is mostly implied, as little Teo reacts in shock to being set adrift. Most of the battle carnage takes place offstage, and the characters deal mainly with the aftermath. An evil character sends his uncle and infant cousin to die in a sinking ship. Alexos and his companions are constantly pitted against enemies who want to kill them, one of whom plans to execute the captive prince and seize his kingdom. Violence also befalls animals, especially those with the bad fortune to sacrifice to Athene; in one scene, four white heifers have their throats cut.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some G-rated kissing as the story draws to a close.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the plot of Diane Stanley's The Chosen Prince revolves around the split second in which the noble and sorely tried protagonist commits an unspeakable act -- sending his beloved little brother to his death. While this deed is crucial to both character development and eventual resolution, and the book's message is positive and uplifting, the ultimate explanation may seem pat and unsatisfying for some readers, while others (not unlike Prince Alexos himself) may not be able to get past the awfulness. That said, this imaginative story offers appealing, complex characters struggling with personal and ethical challenges. Along the way, they exhibit many positive qualities: a strong sense of duty, loyalty, and love for friends and family, as well as endurance and determination in their quest to lift a curse and heal their kingdom.
Is It Any Good?
Author Diane Stanley tells the entire story in the present tense, which gives it a vivid, somewhat dreamlike quality. She delivers complex, appealing characters facing overwhelming challenges, often with kindness, courage, and strong friendship. Some readers will be more persuaded than others by the divine revelation explaining the protagonist's wicked deed that haunts his life, but most will find the story's conclusion very satisfying.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.