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The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom

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The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom

4/5 (38 valutazioni)
382 pagine
4 ore
May 1, 2012


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.

Christopher Healy’s Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is a completely original take on the world of fairy tales, the truth about what happens after “happily ever after.” It’s a must-have for middle grade readers who enjoy their fantasy adventures mixed with the humor of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Witty black-and-white drawings by Todd Harris add to the fun.

May 1, 2012

Informazioni sull'autore

Christopher Healy is the author of The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, as well as its two sequels, The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle and The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw. Before becoming a writer, he worked as an actor, an ad copywriter, a toy store display designer, a fact-checker, a dishwasher, a journalist, a costume shop clothing stitcher, a children’s entertainment reviewer, and a haunted house zombie. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and a dog named Duncan. You can visit him online at

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  • I should have taken that into account. You see, my biggest error was in not recognizing the individual strengths of everyone in this group. It took Frederic here to help me realize what those strengths are.

  • Duncan grumbled. “Why are you here, anyway? I told you three to go to Snow.”“They did.” Snow White climbed out of her wagon and ran to Duncan.“Snow!” Duncan exclaimed. The two em-braced.

  • Endangered Sylvarian hummingbird,” she announced. She popped the yolk with a long, painted fingernail and tasted it. “Ooh, it’s true.

  • Oh, how Zaubera hated heroes.

Anteprima del libro

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom - Christopher Healy


Prince Charming is afraid of old ladies. Didn’t know that, did you?

Don’t worry. There’s a lot you don’t know about Prince Charming: Prince Charming has no idea how to use a sword; Prince Charming has no patience for dwarfs; Prince Charming has an irrational hatred of capes.

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.

But don’t blame yourself for your lack of Prince Charming–based knowledge; blame the lazy bards. You see, back in the day, bards and minstrels were the world’s only real source of news. It was they who bestowed fame upon people. They were the ones who sculpted any hero’s (or villain’s) reputation. Whenever something big happened—a damsel was rescued, a dragon was slain, a curse was broken—the royal bards would write a song about it, and their wandering minstrels would perform that tune from land to land, spreading the story across multiple kingdoms. But the bards weren’t keen on details. They didn’t think it was important to include the names of the heroes who did all that damsel rescuing, dragon slaying, and curse breaking. They just called all those guys Prince Charming.

Fig. 1 Standard BARD

It didn’t even matter to the bards whether the person in question was a truly daring hero (like Prince Liam, who battled his way past a bone-crushing, fire-blasting magical monster in order to free a princess from an enchanted sleeping spell) or some guy who merely happened to be in the right place at the right time (like Prince Duncan, who also woke a princess from a sleeping spell, but only because some dwarfs told him to). No, those bards gave a man the same generic name whether he nearly died (like Prince Gustav, who was thrown from a ninety-foot tower when he tried to rescue Rapunzel) or simply impressed a girl with his dancing skill (like Prince Frederic, who wowed Cinderella at a royal ball).

If there was anything that Liam, Duncan, Gustav, and Frederic all had in common, it was that none of them were very happy about being a Prince Charming. Their mutual hatred of that name was a big part of what brought them together. Not that teaming up was necessarily the best idea for these guys.

If we were to peek ahead to, say, Chapter 20, we would see our heroes in a small mountain town called Flargstagg, sitting in just about the worst tavern in all of creation: the Stumpy Boarhound. The Stumpy Boarhound is the kind of dank and miserable place where pirates and assassins play cards while plotting their next despicable crimes (which often involve robbing the tavern itself). It’s not the type of place where you would expect to find even one Prince Charming, let alone four. And yet, in Chapter 20, there they all are: Liam, bruised and soot-stained, with fish bones in his hair; Gustav, in charred and dented armor, massaging his bald, bright red scalp; Frederic, covered with enough dirt to make you think he’d just crawled out of a grave; and Duncan, with a big bump on his forehead, and wearing … is that a nightshirt? Oh, and there are about fifty armed thugs surrounding their table, all of whom seem eager to smash the princes into paste.

Of course, by Chapter 20, you can’t fault the princes for looking like wrecks. They’re lucky to be alive after their run-ins with the witch, the giant, the bandits, the—well, you’ll see. Basically, the fact that they’re about to get into a major brawl is none too surprising, considering the kind of week these princes have just had. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Before we reach that turning-point night at the Stumpy Boarhound, we need to head back to the peaceful kingdom of Harmonia, where the whole adventure—or mess, depending on whom you ask—began. We have to go back to when Prince Frederic managed to lose Cinderella.



Frederic wasn’t always helpless. There was a time when he aspired to become a hero. But it seemed it wasn’t meant to be.

From the moment he was born—and immediately placed into the delicate swishiness of a pure silk bassinet—Prince Frederic led a life of comfort. As heir to the throne of the very wealthy nation of Harmonia, he grew up with an army of servants standing ready to pamper him in every way imaginable. While learning to crawl, he was fitted with lamb’s-wool knee pads to keep his baby-soft skin from getting scuffed. When he wanted to play hide-and-seek, butlers and valets would hide in the most obvious places—behind a feather, under a napkin—so that the boy wouldn’t have to work too hard to find them. Pretty much anything young Frederic could have wanted or needed was handed to him on a silver platter. Literally.

Fig. 2 Prince FREDERIC

The only thing Frederic had to do in return was live the life of a proper gentleman. He was allowed to attend as many poetry readings, ballroom dances, and twelve-course luncheons as he wanted. But he was forbidden to take part in any activity that could be considered remotely risky or dangerous. Appearances were very important to Frederic’s father, King Wilberforce, who vowed that no one in his family would ever again suffer the cruel mockery that had been heaped upon his great-grandfather, King Charles the Chicken-Pocked. Not a scar, not a bruise, not a blemish was the motto of King Wilberforce. And he went to extreme measures to keep his son away from anything that might give him so much as a scratch. He even had Frederic’s pencils pre-dulled.

For most of his early years, Frederic was perfectly happy to skip out on pastimes like tree climbing (twisted ankles!), hiking (poison ivy!), or embroidery (pointy needles!). King Wilberforce’s warnings about the hazards of such endeavors sank in good and deep.

But at the tender age of seven, Frederic was inspired to try something daring. He was in his private classroom, being taught to write his name with fancy curlicue letters, when a commotion down the hall caused his tutor to cut the lesson short. Frederic followed his tutor down to the palace gates, where many of the servants had gathered to gawk at a visiting knight.

The old warrior, who was battered and exhausted from a recent bout with a dragon, had staggered up to the palace seeking food and shelter. The king invited the weary visitor inside. This was the first knight Frederic had ever seen in real life (and frankly, even the ones he’d read about in books weren’t very exciting—his favorite bedtime story was Sir Bertram the Dainty and the Quest for the Enchanted Salad Fork). During the knight’s short stay, a fascinated Frederic followed him everywhere, listening to his tales of ogre battles, goblin wars, and bandit chases. There was a look in the man’s eyes that Frederic had never seen before. Frederic could sense the knight’s thirst for thrills, his yearning for action. The knight was a man who thrived on adventure the way Frederic thrived on tea cakes.

That evening, after the knight departed, Frederic asked his father if he could take sword-fighting lessons. The king dismissed his request with a smile: Swords are sharp, my boy. And I need a son with both ears attached.

Young Frederic was undaunted. The next day, he asked his father if he could take a shot at wrestling instead. King Wilberforce shook his head. You’re what they call petite, Frederic. You’d have your spine snapped in an instant.

The day after that, Frederic requested a spot on the jousting team. That’s more dangerous than the other two combined, the king moaned disapprovingly. You’ll be skewered like a cocktail weenie.

Archery? Frederic asked.

Eyes: poked out, the king insisted.

Martial arts?

Bones: broken.


Eyes broken. Bones poked out.

By the end of the week, King Wilberforce couldn’t take it anymore. He needed to put a stop to Frederic’s thrill-seeking dreams. He decided to set his son up for a fall.

Father, can I try spelunking? Frederic asked eagerly.

Cave exploration? You’ll fall into a bottomless pit, the king chided. Then he changed his tone. But you can try animal training if you’d like.

Really? Frederic was stunned and thrilled. "You mean with wild animals? Not hamsters or goldfish?"

The king nodded.

You don’t think I’ll be eaten alive? Frederic asked.

Oh, I fear that you will, but if you’re so determined to put your life at risk, perhaps I shouldn’t stand in your way, his father said, weaving his deception.

The next day, with his heart racing, Frederic was led down a winding basement corridor to a storeroom in which all the old coats of arms, spare scepters, and crates of outgrown baby clothes had been shoved up against the walls to make room for an enormous cage. Inside that cage: a pacing, panting tiger. The animal let out a low growl as soon as it saw the young prince.

Wow, I didn’t know we’d start with something so big, Frederic said, considerably less eager than he had been a minute earlier.

Are you ready for this, Your Highness? the animal’s trainer asked. Frederic barely had time to nod before the trainer slid back the bolt and let the cage door fall open. The trainer uttered a quick word to the tiger, and the big cat burst out into the room, rushing straight at Frederic.

Frederic screamed and ran. The giant tiger, easily three times his size, dashed after the boy. Frederic darted among the crates of tarnished goblets and out-of-tune lutes, looking for someplace to hide. Why aren’t you stopping it? he shouted at the trainer.

"I can’t stop it, the trainer replied. It’s a wild animal. Your father told you this would be dangerous."

Frederic ducked under a heavy wooden table, but the tiger swatted it away as if it were nothing more than a piece of dandelion fluff. Frederic scrambled across the floor in an attempt to get away from the beast, but was soon backed up against a stack of rolled tapestries. There was nowhere left for him to go. With tears running down his face, Frederic shrieked as he saw the tiger’s open mouth coming at him.

When the tiger snatched him up into its maw, Frederic was too terrified to realize that the animal had no teeth. The big cat calmly carried the limp, weeping boy back to its cage and set him down gently on the floor—which is what it had been carefully trained to do. For this was no ordinary tiger: This was El Stripo, the talented and cooperative star of the Flimsham Brothers Circus. The Flimshams were famous for their visually horrifying—but impressively safe—act in which El Stripo’s trainer would stuff the tiger’s mouth with up to five infants from the audience and then instruct the animal to spit them back to their mothers. The babies almost always landed in the correct laps.

It took Frederic a few seconds to realize he hadn’t been eaten. At which point his father appeared. Frederic ran into the king’s arms, burying his wet face in his father’s royal robes.

Do you see now? the king asked. Do you see why I say you can’t do these things? Behind Frederic’s back, he flashed El Stripo’s trainer a thumbs-up.

King Wilberforce’s plan had worked. The prince was so deeply frightened by his experience with the tiger, so chilled to the core, that he never asked to try anything daring again. Father was right, he thought; I am not cut out for such bold escapades.

Fear ruled Frederic from that moment on. He even found a few Sir Bertram the Dainty stories to be a little too scary.

Instead Frederic focused his energies on taking etiquette lessons, putting together stylish outfits, and becoming exactly the kind of prince his father wanted him to be. And he became pretty darn good at it. In fact, he began to love it. He was proud of his excellent posture, his artful flower arranging, and his flawless foxtrot.

More than a decade passed before the thought of adventure found its way back into Frederic’s mind. It happened on the night of the big palace ball, at which it was hoped that Frederic would find a bride (he never left the palace, so this type of event was the only way for him to meet girls). Among the dozens of elegant women at the ball that night, there was one girl who caught Frederic’s attention immediately—and it wasn’t just because she was beautiful and elegantly dressed. No, she had something else: a daredevil gleam in her eyes. He’d seen that look only once before—in that old knight all those years ago.

Frederic and the mystery girl had the time of their lives dancing together. But at midnight she ran off without a word.

Father, I have to find that girl, insisted Frederic, newly inspired and feeling a bit more like his seven-year-old self again.

Son, you’ve never been outside the palace gates, the king replied in a foreboding tone. "What if there are tigers out there?"

Frederic shrank away. That tiger episode had really done a number on him.

But Frederic didn’t give up entirely.

He instructed his trusted valet, Reginald, to find the mystery woman for him. It turned out that Ella (that was her name) wasn’t a noblewoman at all; just a sooty cleaning girl. But her story—the way she mixed it up with a fairy and used magical means to escape her wicked stepfamily—intrigued Frederic (even if he hoped he’d never have to meet any of her relatives).

When he told his father he wanted to marry Ella, the king sputtered in surprise. I thought I’d fixed you, but apparently I didn’t, the king scowled. You don’t get it at all, do you? An ill-bred wife would destroy your image more than any scar or broken limb ever would.

Up until that point, Frederic had always believed that the king enforced strict rules because he feared for his son’s safety. But now he saw that wasn’t necessarily the case. So, for the first time, Frederic stood up to his father.

You do not rule me, he stated firmly. Well, technically you do, being as you’re the king. But you do not rule my heart. My heart wants Ella. And if you don’t bring her here to be with me, I will go to her. I don’t care how dangerous it is out there. I would ride a tiger to get to her if I had to.

In truth, Frederic was utterly intimidated by the thought of venturing out into the real world. If his father refused to meet his demands, he had no idea if he would be able to follow through on his threat. Luckily for him, the king was shocked enough to give in.

And so, Ella came to live at the palace. She and Frederic were officially engaged to marry, and the tale of the magical way in which the couple met became the talk of the kingdom. Within days, the minstrels had a new hit on their hands, and the tale was told and retold across many realms. But while the popular version of the story ended with a happily-ever-after for Prince Charming and Cinderella, things didn’t go as smoothly for the real Frederic and Ella.

Ironically, it was Ella’s bold and venturesome spirit—the very thing that Frederic found so attractive about her—that came between them. Ella’s dreadful stepmother had treated her like a prisoner in her own home and forced her to spend nearly every waking hour performing onerous tasks, like scrubbing grout or chipping congealed mayonnaise from between fork tines. While Ella suffered through all this, she dreamed of a more exhilarating life. She fantasized about riding camels across deserts to search ancient temples for magic lamps, or scaling cloud-covered peaks to play games of chance with the rulers of hidden mountain kingdoms. She honestly believed that anything could happen in her future.

When Ella met Frederic at the ball, it was the climax of a day filled with magic and intrigue, and she assumed it was the beginning of a nonstop, thrill-a-minute existence for her. But life with Frederic was not quite what she’d expected.

Frederic tended to sleep in. Sometimes until lunch. And he’d often spend over an hour grooming himself to his father’s specifications. By the time Ella finally saw him each day, she would be more than ready for some sort of excitement. But Frederic usually suggested a more subdued activity, like picnicking, listening to music, or quietly admiring some art.

Don’t get me wrong: Ella enjoyed all those things—for the first few days. But by the fourteenth picnic, she began to fear that those same few activities were all she was ever going to do at the palace. Her unchanging routine made her feel uncomfortably like a prisoner again. So one morning, she decided she would speak frankly with Frederic about what she needed.

That morning, as usual, Frederic slept late. When he eventually got up, he spent fifteen minutes (pretty quick for him) browsing a closet filled with ultra-fancy suits, before finally deciding on a crisp white outfit trimmed with gold braiding and tasseled shoulder pads. The five minutes after that were dedicated to straightening his short, light-brown hair. Unfortunately, a few stubborn strands refused to stay in place, and so the prince did what he did whenever he got frustrated:


Within seconds, a tall, slender man with a thin, pointy mustache popped into the prince’s bedroom. Yes, milord? he asked in a voice stiff enough to match his rigid posture.

Good morning, Reginald, Frederic said. Can you fix my hair?

Certainly, milord, Reginald said, as he grabbed a silver brush and began using it to tidy the prince’s bed head.

Thank you, Reginald, Frederic said. I’m off to see Ella, and I want to look my best.

Of course, milord.

I think I’m going to have Cook surprise her with breakfast in bed.

Reginald paused. I’m reasonably sure, milord, that the young lady has already eaten breakfast.

Drat, muttered the prince. So it’s happened again. How long ago did she wake up?

About three hours ago, Reginald replied.

Three hours! But I asked you to wake me when Ella got up.

I’m sorry, milord, Reginald said sympathetically. You know I’d love to help you. But we’re under strict orders from the king: Your beauty sleep is not to be disturbed.

Frederic burst from his seat, waving away Reginald’s brush. "My father ordered you not to wake me? He’s still trying to keep me and Ella apart."

He rushed to the door of his bedroom, then quickly back to the mirror for one last check of the hair, and then out and down the hall to look for his fiancée.

Ella wasn’t in her room, so Frederic headed to the gardens. He paused briefly to sniff a rosebush, when he heard the sound of approaching hoofbeats. He looked over his shoulder to see that a large white horse was bearing down on him, tearing through the garden at a fast gallop, leaping over one hedgerow after another. The prince tried to run, but the golden tassels of his jacket caught on the shrub’s thorns.

Frederic tugged frantically at his stuck sleeve as the horse’s rider pulled up on the reins and brought the steed to a halt. From the saddle, Ella looked down at him and laughed. She wore a distinctly unfancy blue dress, and her tied-back hair was disheveled from the ride. Her strong, athletic build and warm, healthy glow were a stark contrast to Frederic’s slender frame and sun-deprived complexion. I hope you haven’t been stuck there all morning, she said, only half joking.

No, this just happened, Frederic said, relieved. I don’t suppose you could possibly hop down and lend me a hand?

Fig. 3 Lady ELLA

Ella slid off the saddle, patted her horse’s nose, and crouched down to help free the prince’s jacket from the thorns. I told you those tassels would get you into trouble someday, she said.

But they’re what all the most fashionable noblemen are wearing these days, Frederic said brightly.

He brushed himself off and struck a chest-out, hands-on-hips pose to show off his outfit. He hammed it up to get a laugh out of Ella. It worked.

Very nice, Ella said with a chuckle. I’d love to see you up on a horse sometime, she hinted, petting her mare’s pink nose.

Yes, I’m sure I’d look positively heroic up there, Frederic said. It’s a shame I’m allergic to horsehair. He wasn’t allergic; he was afraid of falling off.

A terrible shame, Ella sighed.

I didn’t realize you knew how to ride, Frederic said. Considering the way your stepmother kept you under lock and key, I wouldn’t have thought you had much time for equestrian lessons.

I didn’t, Ella said. Charles, your head groom, has been teaching me these past few weeks. I usually practice in the mornings, while you … um, while you sleep.

Frederic changed the subject: "So, have you heard the song that Pennyfeather wrote about you? That bard of ours certainly has a way with a quill. The song is very popular, I hear. Supposedly, the minstrels are singing it as far as Sylvaria and Sturmhagen. Before you know it, you’ll be more famous than me. Or even more famous than Pennyfeather. Though I don’t really like the fact that he called you Cinderella. Makes you sound dirty and unkempt."

I don’t mind, said Ella. "I was dirty and unkempt for years. I was always covered in soot and cinders from cleaning the fireplace, so at least I see where he got the name from."

Speaking of names, said Frederic, have you noticed that the song refers to me as ‘Prince Charming’? My real name’s not in there at all. People are going to think I’m the same prince from that Sleeping Beauty song or the Rapunzel one. Here, listen and tell me what you think. He called out to a passing servant, Excuse me, my good man. Could you please fetch Pennyfeather the Mellifluous for us? Tell him that the prince and Lady Ella would like a command performance of ‘The Tale of Cinderella.’

I’m sorry, milord, the servant replied. Mr. Pennyfeather is unavailable. He hasn’t been seen for days, actually. It’s the talk of the palace; we assumed you would have heard by now. No one knows where the royal bard is.

Well, that explains why I haven’t been getting my lullaby these past few nights, Frederic said thoughtfully.

Frederic, maybe something awful has happened to Pennyfeather, Ella said, sounding a bit too excited by the prospect. We should check into it. Come on, let’s go. We need to figure out the last person to see him. Let’s start by asking at the gate—

Oh, I’m sure it’s nothing so dramatic, Frederic said quickly. The only thing he had a harder time imagining than a crime occurring within the royal palace was himself investigating such a crime. He’s probably just off at a bard convention somewhere, one of those gatherings where they vote on the precise number of feathers a minstrel should have in his cap—that sort of thing. But don’t worry, just because Pennyfeather himself isn’t here doesn’t mean we can’t have music. I’ll just send for—

Never mind the song, Frederic, Ella said, taking a deep breath. Remember how we were just talking about my sheltered childhood?

Frederic nodded.

Now that I’m free, I want to have new experiences. I want to find out what I’m capable of. So, if we’re not going to look into Pennyfeather’s disappearance, what can we do today? she asked. "What kind of adventure can we have?"

Adventure, right. Frederic pondered his options briefly. "It is a lovely day.

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  • (2/5)
    I just couldn't finish . . . .

    First, I didn't like how nearly all of the princes were made into namby-pamby goofs, and the princesses were strong, capable, and able to save themselves. My sister (who finished it) tells me it got better in the end, but nonetheless, it was the theme throughout the first 34s and I did not like it. It felt very feministic to me.

    Also, the crudityviolencewitch-stuff made me cringe a few times, and this is NOT something I would give to my middle-grade aged brothers! I am becoming increasingly disappointing with the kind of content you can put into a middle grade novel. :

    While there were funny parts, and I found myself chuckling a few times, and the story had an interesting premise, this just didn't cut it for me. I had a hard time getting into the writing style, and barely was able to make it halfway through before I quit. Not my thing, I guess.
  • (4/5)
    Due to copy and paste, formatting has been lost.The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom was a very fun book. I first picked it up because of the awesome illustrated cover, but after I read the intro there was no putting it down. First off, well, the premise itself was just awesome. I love the idea of it! Anything done with fairytales is A-OK by me, seriously. But anywho, this is one of those books that I kind of feel to old was way fabulous, and I loved it to death, but it was written for kids much younger than me.But that's not the point. The illustrations were awesome, the story was captivating, and the overall experience was something special. I loved all the princes-- Gustav, Liam, Duncan and Frederic. Weirdly, I think that anti-social Gustav was my favorite, being the youngest of two sets of octuplets (seriously laughter occurred when that was announced). His dorky heroism and complete uncaring nature won me over, y'all.In spite of that, though, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the other princes, and of course the princesses too! Almost every chapter was in a different point of view, which you'd think would be confusing, but it really wasn't at all. It was fan-freaking-tastic. Each point of view was uniquely fleshed out, and each and every character had their own quirks. It was all very whimsical and imaginative.All in all, The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom was a really interesting break from all the bad books I've been reading lately. I really loved it, and I'm hoping to get to the sequel soon!
  • (4/5)
    I read this E book because my sons' friend told me it was funny and I wanted to discuss it with him and my son. They were right, it was a funny story and yet there were places in the story that reflected true human emotion. I did enjoy the spoof on fairy tales and the good versus evil. This story did give a view of what might of happened after the "happily ever after," in some famous fairy tales. I do hope more students discover this book.
  • (3/5)
    This fairytale retelling mash-up of the stories of several Princes Charming won't change middle grade literature, but it's fun, will most likely be enjoyed by some the (rather younger) target demographic, and had us chuckling.

    I didn't like the main twist, the one female dominated genre - NOW from a MALE perspective!! - a twist which doesn't really add much to anything ever, really, since it's the default, anyway.
    Still, the characters really did grow on me, and towards the end I didn't mix them up anymore.

    The language annoyed me at times because I don't think that some of the more slang-y elements will stand the test of time, but as I said before, this book doesn't seem to be designed to do so.

    I'm a bit baffled as to who is the target demographic here, however. I think that it is supposed to be geared at boys under 10, but I can't see the boys under ten that I know Finished this. Girls, sure, but they don't really need the male perspective. For those boys (and they do exist!) who do enjoy fairy tales, I would have liked Frederic to retain some of his daintiness throughout the novel.
  • (4/5)
    Prince Charming is afraid of old ladies. Didn't know that, did you?
    -- Prologue: Things You Don't Know About Prince Charming

    I absolutely enjoyed every minute of reading this book. It tells the story of 4 princes and how they came together and went on an adventure. The princes are from the following stories: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White & Rapunzel. These princes are all known as Prince Charming and they hate that. People don't even realize they are not the same guy. They all have different strengths and weaknesses. And they are not all seasoned fighters to say the least.

    This book is told by a narrator who also talks to the reader and makes jokes. I loved the play on the fairy-tales that we are all so familiar with. Not only are the princes different from what the reader expects, but the princesses are too. I loved the way the author played with the qualities we all know and tweaked them into something new.

    Here are some quotes that may give you a better idea of what to expect:

    Two people from different kingdoms -- who are engaged to be married -- seeing and talking to each other. Crazy, I know.

    Liam furrowed his brow. "Is that 'Ha,' as in, 'How silly of you to ask: everyone knows I'm the best swordsman in the land'?" he asked hopefully. "No, that was 'Ha,' as in, 'I've never even held a sword," Duncan answered. "But I will provide all the flute music we need.

    Look, Frederic is a big goober, and he makes me feel like I'm going to sprain my eyeballs from rolling them so much, but he's a good guy.

    On still another road, a green-haired man wobbled by on peppermint-stick stilts; a fiery-plumed bird of paradise perched on his shoulder. But he's not in this story, so don't pay any attention to him.

    Oops, sorry about that. I probably should have said, "Spoiler alert."

    Recommended to:
    I don't know what else to say. If you like fairy tales with a twist, definitely read this book. And I highly recommend it to kids in grades 3 to 8. (Another winner from the Sunshine State Nomination list that I'm sure will be popular in our school library.)
  • (5/5)
    I don't think I can recommend this book highly enough, either as a read-aloud for younger readers, or as an independent read for middle grade readers. The story centers around the misguided, misunderstood "Prince Charmings" of well-known fairy tales. Healy's writing is witty, fast-paced, and draws the reader along on a journey as the Princes try to make themselves into heroes and not the laughingstocks that they have become. A must, must, MUST read.
  • (4/5)
    Very clever take on the prince charming s that we've come to know today. My son and I were excited to read this. For a almost five year old this story occasionally lost his attention near the end. But for any kid interested in heroes, dragons, trolls, etc this book will be such a fun time to read.
  • (3/5)
    I believe the term is "rollicking." It went on too long, and the dialog was all modern preteen ("Aww...sounds like someone's having a pity party and didn't invite the rest of us!") but I think it will appeal to the lovers of Shrek and other stories of that ilk.
  • (4/5)
    One of the funniest books I've read in a long time. What's the story with the Prince Charming in all the fairy tales we've heard? They can't all be the same guy. This is their story, four Charmings who team up to save, well, their kingdoms. But really, super funny. Definitely read it.
  • (5/5)
    Unique, funny, and fresh are all appropriate words to describe Christopher Healy's The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. I seriously could not get enough of this fast-paced Middle Grade title!Lots of little girls wish they could be princesses and plenty of girls and women wish for their Prince Charming to come riding to their rescue, shiny and dashing and heroic, but princesses and the perfect Prince Charming is no where to be found within these pages. Instead, the princesses are either spoiled or more heroic than the princes that are supposed to sweep them off their feet. Prince Charming is a generic name used to describe every prince in every tale... princes that are sometimes dashing and sometime heroic, but often flawed and more often terribly silly. In an endearing way of course.I can't fully describe how much I adore this novel. The characters are vivid and each have a distinct voice. I'd much rather be a princess like the sort in The Hero's Guide... one who is happy to have a prince by her side, but is more than capable of taking matters into her own hands. The princes are a motley crew and never fail to entertain. I loved that each had a specific strength or skill so that when the four came together, usually in rather comedic circumstances, they achieved their goal. I have to say, Prince Duncan was my favorite of the princes, the Prince Charming of Snow White's tale. Duncan refers to every animal he comes across by name... names he makes up on the spot. His oddities and personality never failed to make me laugh.I highly recommend The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. Yes, it's a MG title, but I can imagine readers of all age enjoying the characters and their quirks. And I hear the characters will be reunited in a second installment and they'll be joined by a few more interesting individuals... I, for one, can't wait!
  • (4/5)
    With this first book in what is currently a three book series, Healy has taken the characters from four of the classic fairy tales and created a unique tale of princely - and princessly - adventure, with a wonderful comic flare to it. Yes, our "Princesses" are still in the picture, even if the focus is on the guys. Under Healy's pen the princesses are not the "damsels in distress" to be rescued and swept off their feet like in the original stories. Nope. Far from it, and one of the reasons I found this story to be a delightfully fresh, charming and entertaining tale for me: the interesting character makeovers Healy has given the princesses: the nasty despot Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty; the adventure seeking Ella (Cinderella); the still caring but "I need my own space" Snow White and Rapanzel the healer. Even the princes are wonderful: Rapunzel's fighter with anger management issues Prince Gustof; Ella's dainty flute playing, spoon collecting Prince Frederick; Snow White's some what dim but lovable Prince Duncan and dashing Prince Liam who is doing whatever he can to stay clear of marriage-hungry Briar Rose. If that isn't enough to entice you to read this one, there is also an eloquently spoken gentle giant, a temper-tantrum throwing 10-year-old robber king and an evil witch who has a thing against bards who never seem to get the story right - don't we all? - to give our adventurers more than enough to keep them occupied. In a nutshell, Healy has done for fairy-tales what Marie Phillips did for Camelot with her The Table of Less Valued Knights: provided readers with a comically different take/point-of-view on those childhood staples. Good stuff. I have already downloaded and started listening to the next book in the series, The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle.
  • (4/5)
    A super fun retold fairytale mash up that will appeal to boys as much as girls. Recommended for fans of How to Train Your Dragon, Sisters Grimm, and The Frog Princess series. A great mixture of silliness, adventure, and well-known characters.
  • (4/5)
    Very clever take on the prince charming s that we've come to know today. My son and I were excited to read this. For a almost five year old this story occasionally lost his attention near the end. But for any kid interested in heroes, dragons, trolls, etc this book will be such a fun time to read.
  • (4/5)
    Cute and funny!
  • (4/5)
    Amusing farce of prince and princess stories. First of a series. The four Prince Charmings are somewhat incompetent or goofy at the beginning of the book, but because of the bards their stories were told as if they had been heroes. When they get together to search for Cinderella, who had been captured by an evil witch, they learn to work together and become real heroes.I didn't finish the book because I got the general idea and had several others to get to, but I can see why middle grade elementary students would enjoy this series.
  • (4/5)
    Despite the hero-type things done by the Princes Charming, I loved the princesses who are perfectly capable of taking charge - very funny fractured fairy tale!
  • (5/5)
    I'm in love with this book! I read this book so fast I'm going to have to read it again but once you start it's so addictive you just can't stop. It's like eating potato chips or M&M's you can't read just one page or chapter.Links to the other blogs participating are below my review. Thanks for stopping by!Ever wondered about what happened after Happily Ever After? I have. I have always wondered. Well wait no more! This book tells it all and doesn't hold back. Four Prince Charmings and the true story of how they became Prince Charmings. And their real names. And if you don't find this book imaginative and funny, my name isn't Buried in Books. (It isn't really.) But there are asides from the narrator, looks into what the individual princes are thinking at certain times and it's all told with a sense of exaggeration and the absurd that just works because it's the fairy tale told from the other side, the after.Frederic is foppish and I'd say rather a mama's boy if it weren't for the fact that his father made him that way. Scared of the outside world. His princess wants a taste of adventure and she is tired of the endless picnics and walks in the gardens. She leaves on a quest to find someone that's missing and that starts the action of this entire tale. Frederic is not going to let his princess go so easily and so with the help of his valet, Reginald, he gets on a horse and goes after her, in a white suit, with epaulets with tassels and not a clue how to ride a horse, which direction to go or what to do when he gets there.Gustav, on the other hand, is itching for a fight. He'll fight anything that comes along because he got the raw end of the deal in his hero story. Now he's a laughing stock and needs to prove himself. He's got sixteen brothers who are heroes and he is not (I believe actually the mother is the hero here, just sayin).So he goes charging in even when there isn't a hero situation. This sets him up as more of a laughing stock so to say he's a grump and fighting mad, is putting it mildly.Liam, he just wants to meet the girl he's going to marry before they marry, get to know her. But what he meets is a nightmare. Spoiled, mean, bossy and a bit of a showoff with her jewels and gold. He wants to run in the other direction and he actually is a hero, performing acts of heroism on a daily basis. But that doesn't seem to matter to anyone when he decides he doesn't want to marry the spoiled brat that he's been promised to since he was a toddler and who he rescued.And then there's Duncan. Weird and wonderful Duncan who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Who just seems to have good luck. He falls into good fortune all the time. He's misunderstood but he embraces his weirdness and thankfully others do too.When these four Prince Charmings or is it Princes Charming? Anyway, when they get together, it's a comedy of errors. Like two pairs of mismatched roommates. Like the football quarterback, the debate team captain, the rebellious bully and the AV guy (do they still have AV clubs?) formed a club. Frederic raised his hand to ask questions.Gustav was always rushing into battle even if there was no battle. Duncan would shout out, naming animals as they went. And Liam would try to find a way to be the hero while keeping the others out of the plans.Favorite lines from the ARC-Frederic raised his hand."Frederic, do you , uh, have a question?" Liam asked.Frederic sniffled and nodded. "I don't know how to use a sword.""Oh that's right," Duncan said. "Neither do I.""Go team," Gustav said in a mock cheer. p.188So who would love this book? Anyone! It's got adventure, romance, monsters, mystery, sibling rivalry, the weird kid, the swoon worthy prince, the muscle, and the good dresser. Four heroes! Continuations on classic fairy tales. Even if you don't like fairy tale retellings, this isn't a retelling, this is after the fact.It really is priceless! Very well written, with a sense of humor, friendship, danger and purpose.There is even a lesson in it. Honestly how can you not read it?And, don't forget, as I always say, to read the Prologue!!
  • (3/5)
    It was a fun read and fast paced story line.
  • (4/5)
    I was halfway through this before it really started capturing my attention. I'm sure that was in large part due to my frame of mind - not really in the mood for something light or humorous at the time, I think. However, it was really well done and it finally did wrap me up and proved to be an easy four stars.
  • (5/5)
    The Good StuffAbsolutely delightful, one of my favorite middle school reads in the past yearLaugh out loud funnySomething for readers of all agesStrong female characters & nothing sterotypical Fabulous character developmentHas a Shrek, Hoodwinked, How to Train Your Dragon feel to itI was laughing so hard that Jake actually asked if he could read it when I was doneAwesome coverLove that Briar Rose is a nasty piece of work - some of her dialogue is priceless Cannot wait to see the finished product to see the rest of the artwork that will be included - only drawback about getting ARC copies - but think it will be awesome based on artwork included in ARCNice moral, life lessons included in a non shmaltzy in your face way which kids, and old bags like me adore Unusual plot twists that keep you on your toes and you have no idea what is going to happen next - again not at all sterotypical Looking forward to future books in this series - next one I believe is scheduled for 2013The Not So Good StuffSome repetition might have been a tighter story with a wee bit editing People were staring at me on the bus because I was reading a kids book and laughing hysterically Almost impossible to only pick three quotes for my quotes section Favorite Quotes/Passages"Instead of simply frying the man where he stood, Zaubera offered to let him go in exchange for his young daughter. The peasant was surprisingly quick to agree to this (he was not a very good dad), and that was how Zaubera ended up with Rapunzel.""We all know somebody who's a bit eccentric - the girl who talks to herself, maybe, or the boy who eats the erasers of his pencils like they're gumdrops. They could be wonderful people, but thanks to their quirky behavior, they don't have the easiest time making friends.""On still another road, a green-haired man wobbled by on peppermint-stick stilts; a fiery-plumed bird of paradise perched on his shoulder. But he's not in this story, so don't pay any attention to him."Who Should/Shouldn't ReadPerfect for both intended audience of middle school kids and for adults - Teachers and Librarians this would be a good read a loud book that you could do over a semester/termJake is begging me to hurry up and finish so he can read 4.5 Dewey'sI received this from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review & Jake will be reviewing as well as soon as he is caught up on his school work
  • (4/5)
    The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom asks the question, what happened after the fairy tale? Was it really "Happily Ever After" for Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and all of those Princes Charming?The answer, of course, is "not really." Prince Frederick finds that he's not daring enough for Cinderella, who longs for a life of adventure after her years of drudgery -- Frederick's idea of an adventure involves a picnic basket and cushions. Prince Gustav is humiliated by the fact that Rapunzel saved him when he had been thrown out of the tower and blinded, something his brothers will never let him forget. Prince Liam discovers that Sleeping Beauty is actually quite a brat when she's awake, and that his parents still expect him to marry her because her kingdom is a wealthy one. And while Prince Duncan and Snow White are already happily married, he's sometimes a little too quirky even for her. Over the course of the story, these four princes band together and face down a giant, a dragon, some trolls, a bandit king, and a wicked witch -- learning along the way how to value each other's unique abilities in order to work together.This is another fun fantasy read, with a lot of slapstick humor and unexpected adventures for the princes -- and, in some cases, their princesses. As an adult reader, I thought the writing had some rough patches, and the whole shebang could have used a little more editing, but I think that young readers who enjoy lighthearted fantasy and aren't put off by thick tomes (this one weighs in at over 400 pages) will absolutely eat it up.
  • (4/5)
    I thought this book was hilarious!! A great satire on classic fairytales, as told in alternating chapters by the princes and the princesses. As long as you don't take this book too seriously, I think you'll enjoy it.
  • (5/5)
    I am a sucker for fairy tale retellings and this is one of the best I've come across. Healey brings together four different Princes Charming, each with unique strengths and weaknesses, who must work together in order to defeat an evil witch. The author enjoys playing around with traditional storytelling techniques, as well as providing a clever in-world explanation for why the "official" versions of fairy tales (the ones that we're all familiar with) are so different from the actual events.
  • (4/5)
    (GR rating is rounded up from an actual rating of 3.5 stars, sometimes I wish GR had half stars, or was on a 10 point scale...)

    This was cute. Sometimes a bit silly and overdone, but the humor was good, and I liked the unique take on the princes and their princesses.
  • (3/5)
    It was pretty funny and a good read but a little long. It seemed to take a while for the story to really get started and then it ended rather abruptly.
  • (5/5)
    A twist & turn remake of classic fairy-tales told from a different point of view! This is one of my all time favorite versions so far! Wonderfully written but still appropriate for children 8-12 as well as Young adults & up! If your looking for a funny, non stop fairytale you've found the right series! Wonderful characters and a riveting plot! You've never read a fairytale like this before! Great Read, can't wait to read Book
  • (3/5)
    I got an advanced reading copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program. I was super excited to read this book. It sounded like a lot of fun and I love fairy tale retellings. I ended up not liking it that much. The dialog and characters went beyond funny to the point where they were very campy. This book is a really neat idea, but the execution of the story needs some work.That Prince Charming you hear about...well he's not really Prince Charming. He's actually Prince Liam, Prince Frederic, Prince Duncan, and Prince Gustav. These princes are in the doghouse with their respective Princesses and end up on a journey together in which they encounter various baddies and save the kingdom from a witch who steals bards to gain notoriety.This is a really cool idea. I love funny, fairy tale mixups and this seemed like a wonderful concept. The book has a light tone and doesn't take itself seriously. Unfortunately I had some serious problems with both the plot and the characters.Let's start with the characters. Prince Liam is your typical hero; rescues things and is your all around good-boy. Prince Frederic is the resident fop; he dresses to the nines, loves planning picnics and is scared to set foot outside his castle. Prince Duncan is the token space cadet; he is eternally distracted, names random woodland creatures, and is generally completely random in everything he does. Prince Gustav is the strong man; always rushes into danger, tries to be manly, and disdains everyone.So that's quite a variety of personalities and initially looks like a lot of fun. Except that it's not. The princes are just stereotyped personalities; we never really get to know and understand them. They are very one-dimensional and the things that drive them incredibly simple. I realize this is a children's book. As such I sat down and read some of this with my 5 year old son...I thought maybe I am missing something here that he will get. We read a few chapters and his response was "Mom, why are all these guys so stupid?" My response; "I don't know...I guess being quirky means you have to be an idiot."The princesses aren't much better. Ella is your typical sheltered girl seeking a life of adventure. Briar Rose is your typical "everyone should love me because I am a princess no matter how mean I am" variety. Every character in here is an overdone stereotype. It was just soooo over the top it crossed funny and splatted into just plain dumb region.The plot isn't much better. It switches viewpoint between the various princes, the witch, and the princesses. As can happen with multiple POV's, this breaks the story up and makes it less engaging. Then you find out the whole story is focused on these four doofus prince's rescuing bards from a witch who wants attention. I mean seriously? This is supposed to be a heroic quests for the Princes to redeem doens't even really make sense. Let's just say the climax of the story was a let down.I think there is supposed to be a message in here about liking who you are no matter what anyone else thinks. The message comes across more as "If you are a loser you will always stay a loser no matter how much you try to change things."Geez...looking back at what I wrote I guess I really didn't like this book. I am trying to be positive, but I guess there just wasn't much I liked here. The book was a serious drag to get through; I struggled through the inane characters and lackluster plot page by page determined to finish. The writing isn't technically bad, but the story and characters just didn't do anything for me (or my younger son).Overall definitely not my favorite read. The concept is super neat, it's really a great idea. The execution fell flat. The book crosses funny and ends up being just plain..well..boring. The plot isn't engaging and the characters are overdone characterizations of characters we've seen many times. I wanted to love this book, I wanted to laugh and be entertained...instead I ended up rolling my eyes in disgust. I won't be reading any future books from this author.
  • (1/5)
    I'm only adding the book so that I can remember that I tried it and threw it away. No need to borrow it again. It's pretty bad.
  • (4/5)
    A fun adventure, with surprising depth. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

    Added 7-18-15:
    Listened to this again recently - still delightful :)
  • (4/5)
    The world may know the princes associated with Cinderella, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White all as "Prince Charming," but each has his own name-- and his own problems. When the group unites against a witch to find a missing princess (and some missing bards), they make a name for themselves beyond "Charming."The over-the-top prince characters, though not particularly developed, are amusing and endearing, and Healy's campy style keeps the reader laughing. Though the length of the book, at 438 pages, may turn off some reluctant readers, the fast-paced story and many interspersed pictures make the book seem much shorter. The black and white cartoonish illustrations are reminiscent of the CGI animation style popular with modern fairy tale movies-- and since the fractured-fairy tale tone also fits those films, it won't be long before the world sees Dreamworks' take on The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.Recommended especially for students in 4-7 grades.