A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Christopher Healy's The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, a story of the "real" princes from four famous fairy tales who are on a mission to rescue runaway Cinderella, has the kind of inspired, well-crafted lunacy found in The Princess Bride. Many jokes will be lost on kids (and others) who aren't familiar with the conventional tales of Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty, and much of the humor seems directed as much at parents as kids. But young readers who are getting old enough to be a little suspicious of happily-ever-after endings will get a kick out of the oddball princes and resourceful princesses. There's some fairy tale violence: A witch turns henchmen who annoy her into smoking piles of bacon, and a dragon unexpectedly devours a character. There's also swordplay, but little of it seems to result in actual injury. Note: Author Healy reviews video games for Common Sense Media.
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What's the story?
Despite being forever labeled "Prince Charming" thanks to those pesky fairy tale writers, the princes involved in the tales of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White are actually named Frederic, Gustav, Liam, and Duncan. And the whole "happily ever after" thing didn't turn out that way. So when the former Cinderella flees Frederic's kingdom in search of a more adventurous life, all four princes suddenly get acquainted and are forced to help one another other out. Assorted villains are up to no good, requiring Frederic, Gustav, Liam, and Duncan to foil their evil schemes.
Is it any good?
Wacky plot twists rule the day, bearing with them quite a few life lessons about friendship, greed, fame, families, and unwarranted assumptions. First-time author Christopher Healy has spent a number of years reviewing children's books and media (including video games for Common Sense Media), and while that could have resulted in THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM being precious, self-conscious, and trite, things actually turn out much more happily.
Along with a lot of wiseacre asides, Healy delivers four princes who bond, learn a lot, and are fun to watch in the process. And his female characters are formidable, whether they're saving a prince from some dire fix or plotting the ruin of multiple kingdoms.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why the traditional versions of the fairy tales have the heroines as helpless innocents in need of rescue by strong heroes. Do you prefer versions where they're perfectly capable of rescuing themselves?
How does each prince's surprising "hero" quality relate to what the other princes thought were his most annoying traits?
If you had to pick one of these characters as your companion on an adventure, who would you pick, and why?
The princes learn the hard way how a false version of events can get out of control and how tale tellers can distort the facts to suit themselves. In our day, do you think that happens on the Internet?
- Author: Christopher Healy
- Illustrator: Todd Harris
- Genre: Fairy Tale
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Fairy Tales, Great Boy Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Walden Pond Press
- Publication date: May 1, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 448
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.