Looking for a great book to recommend to your upper elementary students and children? Christopher Healy's debut book, The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is a funny mash-up of classic storybook tropes. Readers will love meeting the real Princes Charming and their fairy tale love interests.
No Disney princesses! These are strong, empowered, self-determined young ladies and they don't need a prince to rescue them. When the princes get in trouble, the princesses do a bit of rescuing.
Walden Pond Press is celebrating The Hero's Guide's publication with a blog tour this week and Christopher has stopped by to share his inspiration for writing the book his thoughts about those princes and princesses.
DEFINING PRINCE CHARMING
I can't say I was thrilled when my daughter went through her requisite pink-and-sparkly princess phase. But at least I had company in my grief. I never had to look very far to find another parent willing to grouse about the poor superficial role models provided by classic fairytale femmes like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Yeah, I would say, and how about those awful princes?
It struck me as odd that no one seemed to complain about Prince Charming. If this is the guy who, like it or not, swoops in at the end to rescue the heroine -- the guy our daughters are supposed to fall in love with -- shouldn't we know something about him? Shouldn't he be a real person? All we had from those old stories were cardboard cutouts in generic hero shapes. If it was inevitable that my daughter was going to fantasize about a fairytale wedding, Prince Charming wasn't the guy I wanted her to picture up at the altar. At least not in the form we classically know him.
So I decided that I wanted to take those fairytale princes and turn them into fully fleshed-out characters, good but flawed human beings who -- if a girl were to fall in love with them -- could be loved for their deeds and personalities, as opposed to just their wealth, handsomeness, and station in life. And I wanted to turn those guys into real heroes, too -- because if you go solely by their original stories -- most of them don't quite fit the definition.
The most heroic thing Cinderella's prince did, for instance, was order his servants to go out and look for a girl he lost track of -- he didn't even do the looking himself! Snow White's prince is probably worst of all. What did he do? By random luck, he stumbled upon a cursed princess in the woods and he kissed her. I've done more heroic things on a milk run to my local grocery store. (Honestly, the dwarfs don't get nearly enough credit for their heroism in that story.)
This whole train of thought, which I tossed around in my head for years, was the genesis of The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. I saw writing the book as a public service for my kids in a way. I was providing fairytale princes that my son might actually stand a chance of relating to, and whom my daughter could like -- or not like -- based on how she felt about their true characters. And while I was at it, I decided to make some changes to those princesses, too, because, well, you know...
More buzz for The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom:
"In this debut, Healy juggles with pitch-perfect accuracy, rendering the princes as goobers with good hearts and individual strengths, keeping them distinct and believable. Inventive and hilarious, with laugh-out-loud moments on every page."-Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
"Less like a book and more like a swashbuckling costume party, this is the most fun you can have short of rounding up King Arthur's knights, filling their armor with laughing gas, and driving them to a roller disco." - Frank Cottrell Boyce, New York Times-bestselling author of Cosmic
Christopher Healy has spent years reviewing children's books and media online and in print. His work has appeared in Cookie, iVillage, Parenting, Time Out New York Kids, and Real Simple Family. The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is his first children's book. He lives with his family in Maplewood, New Jersey. You can find him online at www.christopherhealy.com.
Check out Walden Pond Press's blog tour stops this week including giveaways and a free excerpt of The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom