Book: The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom
Author: Christopher Healy
Illustrator: Todd Harris
Rating: four stars (out of four)
Release date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Source: ALA 2012
You know a book is good when it compels you to immediately share with others. (Or find someone and read them passages out loud.) And The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom wholeheartedly falls into that category. One thing's for sure: I'm reading any other books in this series! I fell in love with the quirky and bizarre characters. The story was hilarious and full of delightful antics and imaginative zaniness. It kept me entertained and turning the pages because I wanted to know what hilarity ensue next.
It was a delightful set of characters and even though there were a lot of people to juggle around, I never felt like Healy dropped the ball when describing each personality. Each prince felt distinctly original. I fell in love with the characters: Gustav and his gruff personality and stoic approach to emotions; Frederic and his seemingly ineptitude until the middle of the story when he realizes his purpose; Liam and the way he can tackle almost any problem without breaking a sweat; And Duncan, crazy, spastic, random, lovable Duncan. How can you not laugh with glee at everything that comes out of his mouth? I wanted to highlight all of his conversations because they were so HILARIOUS. And the way everybody else in the group dealt with him was all the more humorous. I laughed out loud so many times while reading!
I think the aspect I most enjoyed out of this book was the tone Healy took with his writing. It was slapstick-lackadaisical-all-around-hilarious, like the author was beaming with mirth and secretly whispering in your ear a hilarious story. I was amused at how Healy tied everything together in the novel and deftly wove through the ins and outs of other fairy tales and still made it uniquely his. Every now and then the narrator would pop in with a revealing little comment – solely for the amusement of readers. And it took me a little while to make the connection, but this book totally reminds me of The Emperor’s New Groove! Do you remember that crazy animated Disney movie about the talking llama, Kuzco? Yeah, that’s probably one of my top ten favorite films of all time. And the humor in that film is similar to the humor in this story, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much.
One thing that’s surprising is how out of the blue this novel is. I mean, I picked it up at ALA and I hadn’t heard of it before or seen it around online. And after reading it I was shocked! For such a delightfully humorous and engaging story, why on earth is it not more popular?! How come more people haven’t read this? Why isn’t it being made into a movie? These are all very relevant questions! It was one of the best books I read last year and when I re-read it again this summer (you know, because the SEQUEL CAME OUT AND I’M SO EXCITED) it was JUST as enjoyable as the first time I read it. I can seriously see this being a staple in modern fairy-tale lit for kids. It’s that good! I think everyone should read it. It’s light-hearted and still packs a punch with the emotions and depth of character throughout the story. Now I need to get my hands on that sequel STAT.
Love love LOVE this book. And to leave you with a small taste of the humor…a quote featuring Gustav and Duncan in the line of battle.
“Now!” Gustav shouted as he tumbled to the ground. “Get him now!”
“Get him how?” Duncan asked. He looked at the sword in his hand. Unsure of what he should do, he tossed his weapon at the giant. The sword flipped through the air a couple of times and landed softly on the grass only a few feet away.
“That was the most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen,” said Gustav.
Duncan stepped forward to retrieve his sword, tripped over his belt, hit his head on a rock, and knocked himself out cold.
“I spoke too soon,” said Gustav, “That was the most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen.”