Thursday, October 9, 2014

76 Shopping Days Left! Review: The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw by Christopher Healy

The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic.Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You think you know those guys pretty well by now, don't you? Well, think again. Posters plastered across the thirteen kingdoms are saying that Briar Rose has been murdered—and the four Princes Charming are the prime suspects, along with Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, and Lila. Now they're on the run in a desperate attempt to clear their names.
Along the way, however, they discover that Briar's murder is just one part of a nefarious plot to take control of all thirteen kingdoms—a plot that will lead them across the ocean, through a scorching desert, and to the doorstep of an eerily familiar fortress for a final showdown with an eerily familiar enemy.
Feeling lost? If you haven't read the first two books in this series - and I hadn't - the above description can make you feel like you walked in on the tail end of a really interesting conversation. Fortunately, the book itself doesn't make you feel that way!
I am not a fan of reading books in a series out of order, so I was a little annoyed to get this third volume to review. I happened to need some lunch time reading material one day, however, and by the time I finished my leftover mac and cheese, I was hooked. 
All you need to know is that the princes, usually referred to "Prince Charming" in the fairy tales, have their own actual names and personalities. The princesses themselves are not always the demure maidens awaiting a rescue, either - but, then, can one ever really believe what the bards say? 
"Being an Outlaw" was lighthearted, action-packed, and funny enough to quote aloud in places (just ask the Children's Clerk, who has had to suffer through much of it.) I have ordered the first two books in the series, and plan to go back and read them soon, but it was pretty easy to catch up on the general idea while reading this one.
Of course, if you are giving someone a gift, you will probably want to start with the first volume:
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom
Or, just buy all three:
The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle
What to gift with the books? Well, fencing lessons would be fun, if those are available - or advisable. Since these are more appropriate for middle graders, playing with a toy castle may be pooh-poohed, but...
building one? That's kinda cool!
Or, how about a castle-defending game?
Castle Panic
***Note: I am not familiar with this game, but it gets good reviews, and seems to be enjoyed by a large age range.
This series might also be a good choice for a family evening read-aloud. Plan a medieval feast around it, or use it to introduce older kids to Monty Python. Have fun with it!

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