Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Source: Bought via Audible
Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change.
Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, the princes stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be. (courtesy of Goodreads.)
On the first page of The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, there's the following lines: "Some of you may not even realize that there's more than one Prince Charming. And that none of them are actually named Charming. No one is. Charming isn't a name. It's an adjective." How can you not love a book that starts out like that?
The book gets better and better from that point. It's the best kind of kid's book. It has layers of plot and humor. Young kids will laugh at the physical comedy, adults will chortle at the subtle play on words, and all will guffaw parody of classic fairy tales. The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom turns four overplayed, kinda boring fairy tales on their heads, making them feel fresh and modern. Even better, the book doesn't take itself too seriously. I had the feeling that the author was laughing alongside the reader.
Princes Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Gustav are generally a bunch of screw-ups (some more than others) who accidentally rescued their iconic princesses (or in some cases really didn't) and ended up immortalized in fairy tales. Each have distinctive personalities. Frederic is a wimp, Duncan is an eccentric airhead, Gustav is a bombastic show-off, while Liam really is a well-meaning hero. They are paired with delightfully fleshed out princesses. Frederic "saved" Ella/Cinderella, who is a brave, adventure loving girl who is bored by Frederic risk-free life. Snow White actually is in love with Duncan and almost as strange as he is, but she needs a little space. Rapunzel and Gustav are total opposites. Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty is also the opposite of Liam - in her case, she's the spoiled, evil princess and Liam is the wonderful, dashing prince and he wants nothing to do with her.
As you'd expect in a modern fairy tale, it's the princesses who end up rescuing the princes, who are horribly lost in the forest. Well, with the exception of Briar Rose, who wants to entrap Liam in her thorns. Liam's little sister Lila is the one who joins up with the "good" princesses to save the four guys. The story goes back and forth between the princes and the princesses. The boys are bumbling around, helping each other out, arguing with each other, nearly getting the others killed - over and over again. The resourceful girls get themselves out of dangerous situations and save the boys.
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is a delightfully fun read. Even though it's aimed at younger audiences, it has that timeless feel that will appeal to readers of all ages and likely won't feel dated in twenty years time. The plot does drag a bit at time, but the writing is so witty that I was never tempted to give up. It can be a long journey, but it's a fun one.
I listened to The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom on audio and I can't recommend that reading method enough. Bronson Pinchot is the narrator. He has a wonderful deep reading voice and perfect comedic timing. I missed seeing the book's illustrations, but I think audio is the way to go with The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom It brought the book to life. Whatever method you choose, I highly recommend The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.
Rating: 4 / 5
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