Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Looney Tunes meets the League of Princes Charming (and that isn't a typo). This book reminded me of the cartoons I grew up with the slapstick characters, distinct voices, and nonstop gags. This fractured fairy tale begins with a bang painting the character of Prince Frederic as pompous and fearful along with his girlfriend, Ella (Cinderella), who is spirited and wants adventure. The two argue about how to spend their afternoon. Frederic wants tea and Ella wants adventure; in particular, she wants to find Pennyfeather, the bard of their kingdom who has gone missing. When Ella realizes Frederic won't go with her, she decides to find the inspiring Rapunzel as a potential adventure partner because Rapunzel freed herself from the witch and saved her prince. Ella toodle-oo's and leaves Frederic a note that explains her plans. Frederic takes off after her and meets the other prince charmings all with hangups and quirks that are quite funny.

"Huh?" Gustav grunted, as he and Liam clipped along through the woods, all but dragging Frederic behind them. Duncan, free of the chains, was plodding by himself several years back. 
"Whawadoo, whuwedow?" the out-breath Frederic tried again. He sounded like an asthmatic cat trapped inside an accordion.

The four Prince Charmings from Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty have joined forces to rescue Cinderella who's been captured by a witch. Gustav, of Rapunzel, is a Viking-type brute who cares little for others feelings but is loyal and never backs down in a fight. Duncan, of Snow White's story, is an odd duck who believes he has magical powers and it makes him brave or foolish depending on how you look at it. Oh, and he chatters like a chipmunk.

"Gustav, hold up..." Liam said ...I think our companions could use a break." 
"I'm good," Duncan said cheerily as he jogged to catch up to the others. "The mud is a little hard on my felt boots but it makes a pleasant squishy noise when I step. It reminds me of the bog walks that Snow and I take sometimes. A bog might not sound like the kind of place you want to spend a lot of time in - and the smell would back up the assumption-but when it comes to examining mosses-"
"Pipe down, Nature boy," Gustav interrupted. "The Wheezing Wonder here is trying to say something.: 
Frederic had collapsed facedown in a pile of fallen leaves. He lifted his head and spit out a pinecone, "What do we do now?" he sighed.
"First order of business, we get ride of these chains," Liam said.

Liam (from Sleeping Beauty) is the planner and actually has had heroic exploits. His ego and pride get in the way at times and he thinks if he works alone he would be better off. The four learn that working together not only makes them stronger but they become friends that learn to appreciate the oddities in each other.

This meta-fiction has terrific writing with jokes galore and jabs at language that will make you laugh. The dwarfs insist on spelling "dwarves" because if "wolf" becomes "wolves" and "half" becomes "halves" then they should be "dwarves" not "dwarfs". They warred when the elves bragged that they got to pluralize with a "v". The nonstop humor is for kids and adults alike. There are also a ton of references to classics and comedies such as Frederic's horse is named, Gwendolyn, the same name as Cinderella's fairy godmother, and there's a squirrel named, Captain Spaulding, after Groucho Marx. There are probably a bunch more - I can only recall those two off the top of my head.

We don't know what happens with Snow and Liam and some of the Prince Charmings seem to be interested in other princesses suggesting a sequel. I thought the gags overtook the plot. You know nothing bad is going to happen to the characters and it takes the tension out of the story. I got a little tired of the anachronistic jokes in the middle and thought the book could have been tightened to improve the pacing and provide more plot details. You decide. I guarantee you'll laugh.

Reading Level 6.1
4 out of 5 Smileys

No comments:

Post a Comment