Thursday, July 12, 2012

Audiobook Review: The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

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 tales? 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, they manage to discover 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 a movie studio gets wind of this book and snatches it up for an animated feature.

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, (narrator of the Harry Potter audiobooks) 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. 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. For those of you who listened to The True Meaning of Smekday and understand why I love it so much The Hero's Guide and Smekday are neck and neck in terms of my favorite audiobooks, with the slight edge being given to Smekday.

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 Christopher Healy to write another book... QUICKLY! Come on Healy! I need another fix! When's your next book coming out? I hope you've already got one in the works!

If you're looking for a hilarious, lighthearted book for your summer reading, I highly recommend The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Look who I got to meet

So I know how much you all love the graphic novel Smile by Raina Telgemeier. Look who I got to meet at the Kids Read Comics event at the Ann Arbor District Library this past weekend:

Yes, that's me with Raina Telgemeier, author of the awesome graphic novel, Smile:

Not only did she sign a copy of Smile for me, but I also got a Smile t-shirt too! I can't wait to wear it to school when we come back in September.

Other cool things at the Kids Read Comics Event:
Artist Chris Houghton signed a copy of Reed Gunther for me and then drew a personalized picture for my classroom.

 My friends Brian, Colby, Jen, and I pose with  Vordak the Incomprehensible (Photo courtesy of Colby Sharp)

Raina also gave a "turn your life into a comic" workshop at the Robot Supply and Repair Shop a couple blocks from the library. It was such a fun workshop about turning your life into a comic. Well, I say fun, but for me it was quite stressful since I can't draw even a stick figure to save my own life. It was much more inspiring to watch Raina at work than to try to do any sort of drawing myself.
Raina makes an outline of a story from an audience volunteer
Raina draws a comic from the story outline right on the spot

The hilarious finished comic

Overall it was a fun day of getting to hang out with friends and of course meeting great authors and artists. Oh, and let's not forget that I got a Smile t-shirt and a copy of the book signed. Yay! You will definitely see me sporting my Smile shirt when school starts back up again.
Guenter likes Smile too

I hope you all are enjoying your summer. What cool things have you done/will you do?