Audiobook Review: The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy – Review by Beth Shaum

Did you know the princes who saved Rapunzel, Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty weren’t actually named “Charming” as we so often believe? No, these men have real names: Liam, Duncan, Frederic and Gustav to be exact. So why are they all named “Charming” in their fairy tale tropes? Well, the bards in charge of telling their stories can’t seem to keep names and details straight, that’s why.

In fact, we only know these beloved stories up until “happily ever after” but the truth of the matter is, all four of the aforementioned princesses rejected their associated Prince Charming in some form or another and forced the princes from their kingdoms. In the meantime, while wandering in exile, they manage to uncover a nefarious plot afoot that puts all of their kingdoms at risk. Can these dunderhead princes save the day or will they fall short and risk the lives of the people in their kingdoms?

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is a brilliant debut novel by Christopher Healy and one that is bound to become a children’s classic. In fact, I’m predicting it won’t be long before we see it on the silver screen as an animated feature. This book has been compared to Shrek by our very own Donalyn Miller and I think the reason for the similarity is because the humor in The Hero’s Guide is not just for kids – there’s a sophistication to it that will have the adults laughing just as heartily (if not more so) as the kids.

This is one of the most memorable audiobooks I’ve listened to in recent history and that is all thanks to the sheer comic genius of actor Bronson Pinchot, who not only narrates this audiobook, he performs his heart out in it. The person you always associate with the words “brilliant”, “audiobook” and “voices” is Jim Dale, but let me tell you, Mr. Pinchot gives Mr. Dale a run for his money. I would definitely coin Bronson as the American Jim Dale, but I might even be so bold as to say his voices are BETTER and FUNNIER than Jim Dale’s. (Oh mon dieu! Did she just say what I think she said? That’s literary blasphemy!)
But maybe that’s my own bias talking because I have loved Bronson Pinchot ever since he played Balki Bartokomous on the ever cheesy 80s sitcom Perfect Strangers. If you’ve never heard of it kids, look it up. All of Pinchot’s voices are brilliant, but my personal favorite is that of Prince Duncan who sounds more like a surfer dude who’s fallen off his board one too many times than that of the dignified prince one imagines to have married Snow White.

Todd Harris did the illustrations for The Hero’s Guide and that is the one drawback of listening to the audiobook instead of
actually reading it: missing out on his laugh-out-loud funny drawings. Luckily I own a copy of the book, so I was able to thumb through it from time to time while I was listening to the audiobook. But no matter which way you choose to partake in this book, either via traditional means or audiobook, it is sure to entertain you for hours and cause you to beg for the second book before its April publication date.

My favorite line of the whole book:

Duncan serenaded the others with his favorite dwarven campfire song: “Flames and Beards Don’t Mix.” 

Why is this my favorite line? Because this one sentence manages to capture the tone and humor of the entire book. (And be honest: you’re totally picturing a Dwarf right now with a pointy hat, running around in a panic because his beard’s on fire.)

Note: Not long after posting my original review of this book on my blog, I received this tweet from Walden Pond Press, so I guess my prediction wasn’t that far off! :)

When Beth Shaum isn’t busy teaching middle school language arts, she spends her time trying to find a way to make teleportation a viable means of commuting to and from her home in Canton, Michigan and job in Grosse Pointe Farms. One day she’s just going to give up on the teleportation idea and write books for a living. She would love nothing more than to have her daily commute be from her bed to her couch. Until that day comes, she is happy sharing her passion for books and writing with her students and gleaning a wealth of story ideas from all of the things they do to inspire her or say to make her laugh. Follow her on Twitter @FoodieBooklvr, or read her blog, A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust.