The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom



Engaging fairy tale spoof is clever and funny.

What parents need to know

Educational value

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.

Positive messages

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.

Not applicable

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 BrideMany 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.

Families can talk 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? 

Book details

Author:Christopher Healy
Illustrator:Todd Harris
Genre:Fairy Tale
Topics:Princesses and fairies, Adventures, Fairy tales, Great boy role models
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Walden Pond Press
Publication date:May 1, 2012
Number of pages:448
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12

This review of The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 6 and 7 year old Written byNMCMom October 5, 2012

This one is a Hero in our house!

This is one of those rare books that kept my 7yr old son and 6yr old daughter begging me to keep on reading! The story contains familiar princess/prince characters from the usual lot, but reinvents them in a huge, crazy, funny adventure focusing on not giving up, being brave and being loyal. There are a few fighting scenes, but nothing gory or horrible --just enough to keep my boy wanting more. It was really terrific!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Parent Written byBook admirer June 11, 2012

Great new author

Engaging tome, that will keep them laughing AND reading. Well thought out and will help build their vocab skills. Ps. Adults will enjoy it too.


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