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The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom

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The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom
by Christopher Healy

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Scroll down to find Related Activities & Resources, Book Talk Teasers, Read Alikes, and Book Reviews.

Readers Theater Script

Book Trailer

Author Interview


Official series website (Bios, Who’s Who, Blog, Quizzes, Map, etc…):

Author’s website (Bio, Interviews, Book Trailers, Fan Art Gallery, etc…):

Middle Grade Mafia – Interview with Christopher Healy:

Publisher’s Website (Book Trailer and Activity Guide):

YouTube book trailer:

TeachingBooks.net (Bios, Audiobook Excerpt, Book Guide, and Interviews)​:

Read Write Think Lesson – Once Upon a Rethought: Writing Fractured Fairy Tales:

Lesson on fractured fairy tales:

Scholastic – Fractured Fairy Tale Story Map:

Bright Hub Education – Fairy Tales Gone Wrong: Introducing a Fractured Fairy Tale Unit:

 The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom Character Analysis Recipe (pdf)



Read the “About the Heroics” section of the activities guide on the Publisher’s website. The link is above.

Read the inside flap.


Also by Christopher Healy:
Healy, Christopher. The hero’s guide to storming the castle. “The four princes erroneously dubbed by Prince Charming and rudely marginalized in their respective fairy tales have to once again save the kingdom from a great threat”–. (NoveList Plus)

Healy, Christopher. The hero’s guide to being an outlaw. The princes and princesses flee from bounty hunters when they are wrongly accused of the murder of Briar Rose, who was killed as part of a nefarious plot to seize control over the thirteen kingdoms. (NoveList Plus)

Plot Driven Fractured Fairy Tales:
Bruchac, Joseph. Dragon castle. Young Prince Rashko believes that his parents and his older brother Paulek, while loveable, are utter fools. He’s even more convinced of this after the King and Queen depart castle Hladka Hvorka unexpectedly, the hostile Baron Temny gathers his army outside the castle walls, and Paulek invites Temny and his troops inside. Now it’s up to Prince Rashko to stop the baron and save the kingdom — but, smart as he is, is he up to the challenge? (NoveList Plus)

Colfer, Chris. A Grimm warning. After thirteen-year-old Conner returns to the Land of Stories and reunites with his twin sister, Alex, who is training to become the next Fairy Godmother, war breaks out in the fairy-tale world. (NoveList Plus)

Colfer, Chris. The wishing spell. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, twins Alex and Conner leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about. (NoveList Plus)

Coombs, Kate. The runaway princess. Fifteen-year-old Princess Meg uses magic and her wits to rescue a baby dragon and escape the unwanted attentions of princes hoping to gain her hand in marriage through a contest arranged by her father, the king. (NoveList Plus)

Durst, Sarah Beth. Into the wild. Having escaped from the Wild and the preordained fairy tale plots it imposes, Rapunzel, along with her daughter Julie Marchen, tries to live a fairly normal life, but when the Wild breaks free and takes over their town, it is Julie who has to prevent everyone from being trapped in the events of a story.

Gidwitz, Adam. A tale dark & Grimm. If you think of fairy tales as nice, pretty little stories to bore children to sleep with, A Tale Dark & Grimm will make you think again. Weaving the disturbing bits of several Brothers Grimm tales and plenty of his own mischief into a single story, author Adam Gidwitz tells his own version of the (often gruesome) adventures of Hansel and Gretel. (NoveList Plus)

Hoffman, E. T. A. Nutcracker. After hearing how her toy nutcracker got his ugly face, a little girl helps break the spell and changes him into a handsome prince. (NoveList Plus)

Maguire, Gregory. Leaping beauty. The author wreaks havoc on eight classic fairy tales, with a cast of characters including a dancing frog, a gorilla queen, and seven giant giraffes. (NoveList Plus)

Mlynowski, Sarah. If the shoe fits. On their second adventure through the magic mirror Abby and Jonah find themselves in the Cinderella fairy tale–and that is when things start to go really wrong. (NoveList Plus)

Shurtliff, Liesl. Rump: the true story of Rumpelstiltskin. Relates the tale of Rumpelstiltskin’s childhood and youth, explaining why his name is so important, how he is able to spin straw into gold, and why a first-born child is his reward for helping the miller’s daughter-turned-queen.

Fast-paced Plot Driven Fantasy Fiction:
Ferris, Jean. Thrice upon a marigold. When Princess Poppy, the daughter of Queen Marigold and King Christian of Zandelphia-Beaurivage, is kidnapped by the kingdom’s former torturer-in-chief and poisoner-in-chief, a ragtag group sets out to rescue her. (NoveList Plus)

Frederick, Heather Vogel. Once upon a toad. When her mother goes on a NASA mission, Cat Starr is sent to live with her father, step-sister Olivia, and younger brother Geoffrey, but interference by her inept fairy godmother causes toads to appear when Cat speaks and gems to fall from Olivia’s mouth, bringing one to the attention of jewel thieves and the other to a secret government laboratory. (NoveList Plus)

Hale, Shannon. Calamity Jack. In this graphic novel interpretation of “Jack and the beanstalk,” Jack is a born schemer who climbs a magical beanstalk in the hope of exacting justice from a mean giant and gaining a fortune for his widowed mother, aided by some friends.

Ibbotson, Eva. The secret of Platform 13. Odge Gribbie, a young hag, accompanies an old wizard, a gentle fey, and a giant ogre on their mission through a magical tunnel from their island to London to rescue their King and Queen’s son who had been stolen as an infant. (NoveList Plus)

Lairamore, Dawn. Ivy’s ever after. Fourteen-year-old Ivy, a most un-royal princess, befriends Elridge, the dragon sent to keep her in a tower, and together they set out on a perilous quest to find Ivy’s fairy godmother, who may be able to save both from their dire fates. (NoveList Plus)

Pearson, Ridley. The Kingdom keepers. Finn Whitman, an Orlando teen, is hired to be hologramed as a Disney World park “guide” but soon finds himself being transported into the Magic Kingdom in the dead of night to help fight a group of Disney villains, led by Maleficent, who want to take over Disney World–and maybe more. (NoveList Plus)

van Velde, Vivian. A hidden magic. Lost in a magic forest and separated from her prince, Princess Jennifer seeks help from a kindly young sorcerer in battling an evil witch. (NoveList Plus)


The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. Healy, Christopher (author).  Illustrated by Todd Harris. May 2012. 432p. HarperCollins/Walden Pond, hardcover, $16.99 (9780062117434). Grades 3-6. 

REVIEW.  First published May 15, 2012 (Booklist).

This is the fractured and funny saga of four Princes Charming, who really aren’t that charming, and four princesses, who are perfectly capable of saving themselves, thank you very much. Readers might not recognize the names Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Gustav, but their partners Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel will obviously ring a bell, and imaginative first-time children’s novelist Healy places them all in neighboring kingdoms, provides when-boy-meets-girl backstories, and sets them on a quest to . . . do a lot of things, actually. Such tasks include defeating witches, battling dragons, rescuing imprisoned bards, and other assorted hero-type things, which are accomplished with lots of slapstick action and tongue-in-cheek, eye-roll-worthy dialogue, with some life lessons (“sometimes being a hero isn’t about getting the glory. It’s about doing what needs to be done”) thrown in for good measure. Take Jon Scieszka’s The Frog Prince, Continued (1991) concept, add 400 pages, shake silly, and read with glee. Complete interior illustrations unseen. — Andrew Medlar

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:
Healy, Christopher. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. July/August 2012
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-211743-4
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-211744-1
Paperback: 9780062117458

What’s a prince gotta do around here to get a little respect? That’s the question Prince Liam, Prince Frederic, Prince Duncan, and Prince Gustav (you might better know them as the Princes Charming from Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively) find themselves asking after the storytelling bards get a few facts wrong and end up portraying the princes as generic fools who play second fiddle to the heroics of their princesses. The four royal lads join forces to clear their names (or at least establish that they have a name other than Charming) and set off to rescue Cinderella. That’s despite the fact that she does not actually require any rescuing (the clever and resourceful gal quite willingly left the palace in search of adventure) and despite the fact that their bumbling questing puts the princes’ lives and kingdoms at stake. Healy has given fans of fractured fairy tales a real treat here, with a fantasy world that is recognizable in its once-upon-a-time elements but turned upside down by well-mannered giants, pint-sized bandits, and a fame-obsessed witch. The boyish camaraderie among the princes is particularly charming (pun fully intended) and each is imbued with a distinctive personality that allows them to be mostly sympathetic but also just a bit laughable. The humor comes as much from the absurd situations the princes find themselves in as it does from their various personality quirks that heighten the story’s ridiculousness. Thankfully, the author is an equal-opportunity mocker, allotting a similar amount of folly to Ella and her fellow princesses; readers who believe strongly in the equality of the sexes both in smarts and not-so-smarts will find plenty to love here.

Horn Book:
The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom
by Christopher Healy; illus. by Todd Harris
Intermediate   Walden Pond/HarperCollins    438 pp.
5/12    978-0-06-211743-4    $16.99

Darn those bards, those spinmeisters with their princess-centric tales that shunt the ladies’ romantic counterparts off to the side. What, debut author Healy wants to know, about the guys? Determined to rectify earlier troubadours’ narrative failings, he introduces us to four Prince Charmings (or Princes Charming, depending on your grammatical druthers): strapping Gustav, who keeps an eye out for Rapunzel; gallant Liam, who is promised to Briar Rose whether he likes it or not; Cinderella’s timid, foppish Frederic, whose sartorial tastes cause him to look like a “deranged doorman”; and Snow White’s eccentric, annoying Duncan, who likes to “organize his toothpick collection alphabetically (they were all fi led under T ).” This motley crew of heroes stumble upon one another and then head off to find Ella, who seems to have disappeared. But after bumbling from tower to tower in the fairy-tale woods in which this irreverent story is set, they discover that bigger evils are afoot. Encounters with a pint-sized robber king and his minions, a gentlemanly giant, a dangerous dragon, vegetarian trolls, dour dwarves, and a nasty witch—along with much witty banter, movie-ready descriptions, cartoony illustrations, and nonstop action—make this fairy-tale mashup highly entertaining. MONICA EDINGER
(July/August 2012 Horn Book Magazine)

Reprinted from The Horn Book Magazine by permission of The Horn Book, Inc., www.hbook.com

School Library Journal:
HEALY, Christopher. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. 424. HarperCollins. 2012. ISBN 978-0-06-211743-4. Tr. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-211744-1. spiral. $9.99. LC number unavailable.

Gr 4-6–The premise in this debut novel is that the princes in the “Cinderella,” “Snow White,” “Rapunzel,” and “Sleeping Beauty” stories resent their relative anonymity (they’re all just known as “Prince Charming”) and want some recognition. Then, too, that “happily ever after” thing isn’t working out for any of them, so the princes and their princesses set off to rectify matters. The eight of them team up in assorted permutations throughout the ensuing slapstick proceedings. Unfortunately, these proceedings become tiresomely repetitive. Though it might be funny once for people to fall over and knock into other people who fall over… and over and over like dominoes, it stops being amusing pretty quickly. It’s understandable that Healy’s characters are broadly drawn. They are, after all, fairy-tale personae. But more than 400 pages of the obsessive-compulsive prince, the ridiculously macho prince, the overachieving prince, and the extremely stupid prince and their equally one-dimensional princesses are a lot to plow through, especially when things are left so unresolved that readers suspect a sequel is in the offing.–Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY

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