Thursday, May 1, 2014

Children's Review: The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom


Linking up with Fairy Tale Fortnight, currently going on at The Book Rat

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, but you probably know them all as 'Prince Charming'. Well, all that is about to change as the hapless princes stumble upon an evil plot and get a second chance to prove themselves true heroes.

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom
Healy, Christopher (2012). [Genre: Adventure]
Source: Local library

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom chronicles the adventures of Prince Liam, Prince Frederic, Prince Duncan and Prince Gustav - four Princes you've never heard of, because of course they're always called simply 'Prince Charming' in the stories. After all falling out with their loved ones over the way they've been portrayed in fairy tales, the four princes run into each other and an evil plot - which could just be their second chance to prove themselves. 

 The Hero's Guide was a charming read. It's a children's chapter book, so all of the characters are a bit out there (but in the best way). Duncan has his head in the clouds, Frederic is a sheltered scaredy cat, Gustav is an unstoppable force of nature and Liam is a hero, but suffers from naivety and arrogance. All of the secondary characters are just as unique and there are some great ones in there. My personal favourite was Liam's feisty little sister Lila. It was also fun to see the Princess characters as less-than-perfect - Sleeping Beauty is a brat and Cinderella is a wannabe adventurer without much knowledge or skill. 

Although the characters, combined with the witty and punny writing, make The Hero's Guide worth it, it's the illustrations that really make this tale. The absolutely gorgeous pencil illustrations throughout are always perfectly placed to add to the story and give the unique characters a face. I'm really sad that they obviously changed the illustrator for the cover of the UK edition - the internal illustrations are so much nicer and portray the characters so much better. Not sure why they didn't just stick with the US cover image. 

The one drawback of The Hero's Guide was the story and plotting. Like far to many books for the age group, it fell into the oh-and-then-this-happened trope where there is a series of incidents rather than an actual coherent story. But I'd overlook this quibble and track down The Hero's Guide quickly if you haven't read it already.

Overall? Although the lack of plotting dragged it down, give it to your children, sisters, brothers, parents and grandparents. They'll all find something to love.

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