Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle

Title: The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle 
Author: Christopher Healy  
Publisher: Walden Pond Press 
Publication Date: April 30th, 2013 
Genre/Format: Fantasy/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You remember them, don't you? They're the Princes Charming who finally got some credit after they stepped out of the shadows of their princesses - Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Briar Rose - to defeat an evil witch bent on destroying all their kingdoms. 
     But alas, such fame and recognition only last so long. And when the princes discover that an object of great power might fall into any number of wrong hands, they are going to have to once again band together to stop it from happening - even if no one will ever know it was they who did it. 
     Christopher Healy, author of the acclaimed The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, takes us back to the hilariously fractured fairy-tale world he created for another tale of medieval mischief. Magical gemstones, bladejaw eels, a mysterious Gray Phantom, and two maniacal warlords bent on world domination - it's all in a day's work for the League of Princes. 
What Jen Thinks: I was thrilled to see all the great characters from the first League of Princes book back for book two! What struck me so strongly about Saving Your Kingdom was how prominent the girls were in a book that describes itself as being all about the Prince Charmings. The girls are awesome! When it came time to celebrating the release of this book, the girls instantly came to mind. 
     Once thing that I marveled at as I read, was how Chris is able to keep all the characters straight. I imagine this might be difficult as an author. I know for my own writing, it really helped me to stop and freewrite about my characters so I could get to know them. I believe an writer has to know his or her characters. This book would offer a perfect opportunity to talk about character development and what authors do as background knowledge for themselves when writing characters. Students can draw what they would find in their character's closet, create a Facebook page or Pinterest board for his or her characters, or write a back story for his or her character. Writing great characters is so connected to understanding people and what influences and why they make decisions. Getting to know your characters is very important as a writer. 
What Kellee Thinks: A wonderful follow-up to the first Hero's Guide. I was worried that it wouldn't be as good (sequel-syndrome), but the characters grew, the story moved along nicely, and it made me even more excited for book 3. Everyone's place in the group is questioned in this book, including their place within their relationships. 
     I read this book for a different purpose than just to review, I wanted to really look at the princesses in the book for our girl power series and I was so impressed at the different personalities and how each princess is so unique. I am so excited about this week because we get to focus on these girls and how they are strong role models. 
     For the classroom, I am a fan of Healy's books because they are such a funny seamless stories, but are complicated in subtle ways that will make it easy to use as a mentor text and discuss in a classroom but also easy to use as a fun read aloud that can sneak deep discussion into the classroom. 
Read Together: Grades 4 - 8 
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 8 
Read With: The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom  by Chris Healy, Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, Once Upon a Marigold (series) by Jean Ferris, fairy tales from around the world 
Snatch of Text:  
"Frederic wasn't always helpless. Sure, he'd spent most of his life having his servants cut the crusts off his French toast, and he once fained afer merely thinking he had a splinter in his finger (it was really a biscotti crumb). But then he joined the League of Princes and managed to hold his own against bandits, giants, trolls, and witches." (p. 9)
Mentor Text For: Activating Background Knowledge, Making connections (like fractured fairy tales), Characterization, Multiple Story Lines, Humor, Rhyming Poetry/Songs (p. 4 et al.), Foreshadowing, Letter Writing (p. 208), Grammar (Princes Charming, Dwarves), Idioms (p. 311), Synonyms (p. 361), Oral Tradition (the bards), Compare and Contrast 
Writing Prompts: Compare and contrast any of the characters in the book; what do you notice about how they are similar and what sets them apart? 
Topics Covered: Adventure, Loyalty, Honesty, Asking for Help, Relationships, Siblings, Trust
We *heart* It: 
*Thank you to Walden Pond Press for providing review copies of Storming the Castle and a giveaway for our readers. Please fill out the form below for your chance to win a copy!*

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