The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is written by Christopher Healy. It was published in 2012 by Walden Pond Press.
“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, Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Gustav 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.”
What I Liked:
This is a fun, and funny, twist to the “Famous Four Fairytales” (I totally just made that title up). All of the princesses are very capable, in their own way, of taking care of themselves, and it is the princes who stumble into trouble again and again. I love the development as this band of misfits—sorry, League of Princes—learns to work together and exercise each other’s strengths.
I liked how each prince had a different story and a different personality. Each princess was different, too, and it seems as if it’s shaping up that the princesses will go with the princes that better match their personalities (Ella with Liam instead of Frederic, Rapunzel with Frederic instead of Gustav. That’s if Healy even decides to marry off all his characters). Snow and Duncan, of course, are married already, and I liked that subversion of the “rejected prince” theme.
Let’s face it, a “League of Princes” is amazing and should be why everyone reads this book, no exaggeration.
The illustrations were great, as well.
However…I have nothing against princesses who can hold their own, but I don’t like princes/men displayed as bumbling fools. And all the princes were bumbling fools (with the exception of Liam), at least in the beginning. Healy does a good job of getting enough into their background that this bumbling is explained, but darn it, I like my princes competent (that being said, Duncan and Frederick, the most bumbling out of all of them, were my favorite, so…).
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Middle Grade
“You know, the troll was about to leave when you jumped on him,” Rosilda said. “Everything was fine. And now look—you’ve wrecked our garden.”
Gustav surveyed the yard. There were broken fences, smashed barrels, squashed beets, and row after row of flattened plants. “You care about a few vegetables? The monster ate your children?” he shouted.
“It did no such thing,” the woman scoffed.
“It had blood on its mouth.”
“Are you sure?” Gustav asked, looking around at the giddy, dancing children. “It must have eaten at least one kid. Have you counted them?”
“I think we actually look scary,” Frederic whispered excitedly to Gustav.
“I look scary,” Gustav said.
“Toodle-oo,” Ripsnard said, waving them off. “You and your league of princes will always be welcome at the Stumpy Boarhound.”
“League of Princes,” Frederic echoed. “I like the sound of that.”
“Ooh, how about the League of Princes Charming?” proposed Duncan.
“No,” Liam and Gustav said in unison.
“League of Princes,” Liam said. “Just League of Princes.”
“It makes us sound like we should be bowling,” Gustav complained.
The Hero’s Guide to Saving the Kingdom is super fun, and has a decent cast of male protagonists. I found their incompetence a little annoying, but the fun of the adventure dulls it a little. The humor is great, and I’m looking forward to reading the next books and seeing if Healy pairs Sleeping Beauty with Gustav. Yes, that’s the only reason (not really).
You can buy this here: The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom