A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Though it's often played for laughs, a life lesson and big theme here is that the popular story of certain events doesn't necessarily match what really happened and that the person who's spreading the story around may not have your best interests at heart -- and how to deal with this. Kids who already know a little German, or are learning the language, will be entertained by the mangled variations (e.g. "Deeb Rauber," the given name of the Bandit King) that pop up throughout the book.
The four oddball princes overcome -- and learn to respect -- their considerable differences to work together and become true heroes.
Positive Role Models
Foppish Frederic, gigantic Gustav, swashbuckling Liam, and geeky Duncan all turn out to bring unlikely strengths as well as obvious weaknesses to their alliance. Ella (aka Cinderella), Liam's sister, Lila, and Rapunzel are all the equal of the princes and then some on the hero front -- and usually more resourceful. Even the giant Reese, enslaved to the villainess, is notably polite and considerate.
Violence & Scariness
While it stays pretty much at the fairy tale level, there's definitely some violence. The witch turns her hapless henchmen into smoking piles of bacon when they fail to do her bidding, and a dragon unexpectedly devours a character. There's swordplay, but little of it seems to result in actual injury; likewise, a barroom brawl or two.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The princes, who appear to be of drinking age in their kingdoms, drink a strange brew in a tavern.
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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.
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.
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.