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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
There are more examples of media spin and the way popular perception of events may not have anything to do with what really happened -- an issue first raised in The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.
Clear messages about the power of friendship and courage, that the things that make people different often turn out to be their greatest strengths, and allowing them to do just the right (albeit weird) thing when it really counts.
Positive Role Models
The four princes all grapple with various issues while trying to be true Heroes, from families that don't understand them to happy-ever-after endings that don't go as planned. Meanwhile, the princesses, from nefarious Briar Rose to intrepid Lila, are strong, independent, and at least as brave and capable as the men in their lives. All the hero characters learn from their mistakes and become better people, while the villains who survive tend to get more incorrigible.
Violence & Scariness
Plenty of mayhem, but mostly cartoonish. There's swordplay, hand-to-hand combat, and the threat of gruesome death at the hands of various villains, and more than one evildoer ends up falling victim to a moat full of man-eating eels. Some of the scariest monsters turn out to be very helpful.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some of the princes revisit a disreputable bar seen in the first book, but they're there to recruit, not to drink.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle is the sequel to the bestselling The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Common Sense Media reviewer Christopher Healy, and continues the adventures of the League of Princes. Once again, the four Prince Charmings (Frederic, Gustav, Liam, and Duncan) and their significant others (Cinderella, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White) face challenges, battle adversaries, and learn life lessons in a madcap, fast-moving saga that leaves plenty of room for further developments. There's a fair amount of borderline-slapstick violence, from swordplay and wrestling monsters to a moat full of man-eating eels, and some villains come to a bad end.
Is It Any Good?
Weighing in at nearly 500 pages, THE HERO'S GUIDE TO STORMING THE CASTLE is more frothy fun than hefty tome, with lots of illustrations by Todd Harris adding to the appeal. Kids will zip through this tale faster than the messenger Smimf in his seven-league boots, pausing mainly for interludes of the giggles. While there's plenty of cartoonish silliness in the story's pacing and development, some of the characters are dealing with issues -- coping with difficult family members, discovering the value of friends, trying to be a better person -- that have a lot in common with real life. And like the first book in the series, this one leaves plenty of perils and unresolved issues for the next installment.
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.