Title: The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw
Author: Christopher Healy
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Publication Date: April 29th, 2014
GoodReads Summary: The League of Princes returns in the hilariously epic conclusion to the hit series that began with Christopher Healy's The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, which the Los Angeles Times called "one of the more clever, hilariously successful incarnations of the current literary rage to rip apart and rewrite fairy tales."
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. 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 to the doorstep of an eerily familiar fortress for a final showdown with an eerily familiar enemy.
What I Think: Hooray for the last installment of The League of Princes series. I've so enjoyed reading and reviewing all the books in this series. I happy to love all of the princes and the princesses. As I've shared in my review of the other books, I think Healy does a great job of bringing these characters to life. They have so much spunk to them and it makes it fun to read about their adventures. This book brings new characters and brings back some old characters into a fun mess of trying to prove that they aren't outlaws. Of course, they meet all sorts of friends and foes along the way and face the issues they struggle with as friends.
One thing I haven't mentioned before in my reviews is how this series might be an opportunity to discuss irony. There is irony in the characters, the situations, and even the stories themselves. Fairy tales are known for their happy endings and their perfectly, perfect Prince Charming. Healy turns so many well-known fairy tales on their heads and challenges the idea of a fairy tale ending with a fairy tale prince. More than looking at the irony of the stories themselves, each character is larger than life and often they don't realize the hilarity of their actions and words. Maybe it's irony and maybe it's just a great sense of humor intwined with these over-the-top characters. Whatever you call it, it's worth looking at with students and discussing author's craft in this sense. This is a great opportunity to discuss character development and especially how to develop dynamic characters instead of typical static characters we usually find in fairy tales.
Read Together: Grades 4 - 6
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 7
Read With: Once Upon a Marigold (series) by Jean Ferris, We Are Not Eat By Yaks (series) by C.A. London, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Frog Prince, Continued by Jon Sciezska, Knights' Tales (series) by Gerald Morris, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
Snatch of Text:
"'Gustav, you look great,' Duncan said as he tried to keep his balance on a narrow lip of wood. 'Have you lost weight?'
'Stick the key in the hole,' Gustav snarled. 'Before I squeeze you between these bars and pull you in here with us.'
'Oh, right,' Duncan unlocked the cage.'" (p. 79)
"Duncan sat on the ship's rail and shrugged. 'Sometimes laughing helps me forget I'm scared,' he said. 'And sometimes it's just because something is fun. I mean, this has been one of our more exciting adventures: Pirates, sea monsters, this awesome hat...But with Snow in danger, there will always be a little part of me that is very, very worried. I think it's my left elbow.'" (p. 197)
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you disagreed with someone. How did you handle the situation? Were you able to resolve your difference in opinion or not?
Topics Covered: Courage, Self-Esteem, Adventure, Honor