Turns out being Prince Charming isn’t a fairy tale; it’s more like a fart joke.
Prince Carlos Charles Charming is the youngest in a long line of Prince Charmings. But he’d much rather grow up to be a court jester. He dreams of juggling fire while riding a unicycle instead of fulfilling his princely duty. (And the word “duty” always make him think of a poop joke.)
But when a dragon is spotted in the Somewhat Enchanted woods, Carlos is going to have to figure out how to be a true Prince Charming fast. Because it’s a slay-or-get-slayed world out there. . . .
The first in a hilarious new series of illustrated chapter books, Prince Not-So Charming: Once Upon a Prank by Roy L. Hinuss introduces a reluctant Prince Charming to every kid who might worry that it’s hard to live up to the fairy tale.
Don’t miss the second book in the series, Her Royal Slyness, on-sale alongside this book!
An Imprint Book
About the Author
Roy L. Hinuss is the authorized biographer of the Charming Royal Family. He is also fond of the occasional fart joke. When he isn’t writing about Prince Carlos Charles Charming’s many adventures, he can be found in his basement laboratory, making batches of homemade Brussels sprout ice cream.
Read an Excerpt
Prince Carlos Charles Charming jingle-jangled down the twisty corridors of Fancy Castle. His eyes squinted in concentration. His lips silently repeated his routine over and over.
Tumble, juggle, dance a jig.
Booger gag, then flip your wig.
Tumble, juggle, dance a jig.
Booger gag, then flip your wig.
"Okay, I got this." He nodded, and the bells on his three-pointed hat tinkled. "I'll be great."
But Carlos repeated his routine a few more times, just to make sure.
He slowly turned the corner, careful to keep his hat quiet. He peeked through an enormous doorway and into the throne room.
The throne room wasn't a room, really. It was more like a very long and very large stone hallway. But it was an impressive hallway, with a high, pointy ceiling that looked like it belonged in a church. The walls were lined with dozens of portraits of the many, many generations of the Charming family.
Some of the portraits showed Charmings admiring the natural beauty of Faraway Kingdom.
Others showed Charmings riding horses.
Most of them, however, showed Charmings stabbing things. Charmings loved to get stabby.
And every Charming in every portrait looked brave and noble and serious.
Oh, so serious.
A ribbon of red carpet stretched from the doorway to the far wall. The far wall was very far, about a hundred feet away. There, seated upon a golden throne, was Carlos's dad, King Carmine.
Poor Dad, Carlos thought. He works too hard.
Carlos was right. The king worked all the time. He even skipped meals when there was too much work to do. And there was always too much work to do. The man was little more than skin and bones.
The king had been working in his throne room since dawn, shuffling through paperwork and signing his name on each page with a floppy peacock quill. Even from a hundred feet away, Carlos had no trouble making out his father's frown.
King Carmine was a good king. He was also a good dad; he was always loving and patient with Carlos. And they shared the same light tan skin and friendly dark brown eyes. But that frown! It was always on his face. Carlos had to think very, very hard to remember the last time his dad had laughed.
But today, Carlos was going to change all that. He was going to turn that royal frown upside down. He sucked in a deep breath.
"ARE YOU READY TO LAUGH?!" he bellowed, his words bouncing off the throne-room walls.
The startled king jerked his head up from his paperwork.
"I SAAAAAID, ARE YOU READY TO LAUGH?!" Carlos yelled.
The king's eyes fell back to the stack of papers in his lap. "Carlos, can you do this later? I'm really busy, son."
"IS THAT A YES?!" Carlos screamed.
"It is not a yes," the king said.
"YOU SAID 'YES!' SO PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THE MIRTH-MAKING MERRIMENT OF THE FANTASTICALLY FABULOUS FUNNYMAN! THE ONE ... THE ONLY ... YOUR SON ... THE GREAT COMI-CARLOS!"
Carlos leapt through the throne room's doorway. His stomach trembled with nervous delight, making the bells on his lime-green jester pants happily jingle. His routine was etched into his memory. It was a part of him now.
Tumble, juggle, dance a jig.
Booger gag, then flip your wig.
First: tumbling. Carlos tucked himself into a perfect somersault, performed a quick roll down the red carpet, and sprang back up onto his feet.
It was a super somersault, perhaps his best ever. But there was a problem.
For weeks, Carlos had rehearsed his routine in his tiny bedroom. There, a single somersault would move him from one end of the room to the other. After the somersault, he would move on to the second part of his routine: juggling.
Carlos's one somersault didn't get him to the other end of this room, however. His dad was still ninety feet away.
Hm, he thought. I need to get closer. I better somersault again.
He tucked, rolled, and, again, sprang to his feet.
"Ta-da!" Now Dad was about eighty feet away.
So Carlos performed another somersault.
Tuck! Roll! Spring!
Tuck! Roll! Spring!
The last somersault was a little wobbly but still sort of good.
Carlos couldn't tell if his somersaults were improving his dad's mood, because they were starting to make him a little dizzy.
"Carlos!" the king yelled.
Nope, he still sounds frowny, Carlos thought. He needs to see more somersaults.
Carlos stumbled a little as he got ready.
Tuck! Roll! Sort of spring!
Tuck! Roll ...
Carlos patted his pants pocket. The eggs he had planned to juggle were now an icky, sticky mess.
"Ugh." His dizzy brain made the room tilt sideways.
Let me think. Let me think. What comes next?Tumble, juggle ... Tumble, juggle ...
"Dance a jig!" Carlos exclaimed. "It's time to dance a jig!"
"Carlos," the king said, "not now. No jigs."
Carlos skipped and pranced, stumbling a bit because he was still dizzy. Egg yolk soaked through his pants, dribbled down his leg, and formed a gooey puddle at his feet — a puddle that he slipped in.
"YIKES!" Carlos thudded to the floor.
The king gasped. "Carlos!" He stood in alarm. The high stack of papers that had been resting on his lap whooshed out and fluttered across the floor. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah," Carlos panted. "Did you find my fall funny?"
"No!" the king said. "I thought you hurt yourself!"
"Oh, no," Carlos said. "You're the one who is going to get hurt! You're going to hurt yourself laughing when you hear my joke!"
"Carlos." The king rubbed his eyes. "No jokes, please."
Carlos struggled to sit up, more determined than ever. "One joke?" "No," the king said.
"Just one," Carlos said. "Just one joke."
"No." The king's eyes drifted to the scattered papers at his feet. "Oh, what a mess."
"Please?" Carlos asked. "Just one. You'll like it. I promise."
The king was too unsettled by the mess to put up a fight. In addition to being a good king, he was a tidy king. He stammered, "I-I really ... I really need to pick up these papers, son."
"Pleeeeease!" Carlos begged. "One little joke! You'll really like it, Dad. You'll laugh so much. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease."
The king sighed as he spoke, making his voice kind of whispery. "Okay," he whisper-sighed. "One joke."
"What's the difference between a booger and a peanut-butter sandwich?" Carlos asked.
"What?" the king replied.
"I said ..." Carlos began to answer.
"I heard what you said." The king's eyebrows knitted together. Now he had frowny lines on his forehead that matched the frown on his mouth.
"Do you know?" Carlos asked. "Do you know the difference between a booger and a peanut-butter sandwich? Do you?"
"No," the king said.
"You don't know the difference?!" Carlos gasped, sounding alarmed. "Remind me never to have lunch at your house! HA-HA!"
The king didn't laugh. Instead, he carefully tiptoed through the piles of papers down the red carpet. He stopped at the edge of the puddle of eggs, where Carlos sat. He offered his hand. Carlos took it, and the king pulled the boy to his feet.
"So, um ..." Carlos cleared his throat and rubbed an achy elbow. He must have banged it when he slipped. "Did you like my routine?"
"Carlos ..." the king began.
"Did you like any of it?" Carlos asked, nervously peering down at his curly toed shoes.
"Son ..." the king began again.
"I just wanted to try to make you happy," Carlos said.
The lines on the king's forehead faded. His eyes grew wider. Kinder. "You do make me happy," he said. "But you know how your mother and I feel about this. You cannot be a jester. You are a prince. You have a responsibility to serve this kingdom as a prince. You need to do princely things."
"But, Dad, I don't want to do princely things," Carlos said. "I want to be funny. I want to do fun-ly things."
"Fun-ly is not a word." The king adjusted his crown. He plucked a piece of lint from his fur cloak. "Carlos, you and I are Charmings." With a grand gesture, the king swept his hand at the dozens of portraits that hung from the walls. "For two thousand years, Charmings have ruled Faraway Kingdom. I am following in this grand tradition. Do you know why?"
Carlos's chin dropped to his chest. "Because it is your duty."
The king nodded. "My Charming duty."
At that moment, a poop joke popped into Carlos's head, but he kept it to himself.
"And someday you, too, will be king," Carlos's father said. "And to be a king, you must first learn how to be a prince. And that means ...?"
"... doing princely things," Carlos sighed.
"That's right, son," the king said. "So I need you to run downstairs and get fitted for a suit of armor."
"Armor?!" Carlos sputtered. "But ..."
"Please." Carlos's dad was so nice that even his kingly orders were polite.
"Okay," Carlos replied, but he said it in a way that showed it wasn't okay. Not okay at all.
Carlos thumped back to the entrance of the throne room, keeping his eyes on the floor so he could avoid any egg puddles. The king began to scoop up his paperwork.
"Dad?" Carlos said.
"Yes, son," the king answered.
"Before I go, can I do the last part of my routine?"
The king's eyes grew wide. "There's more?"
Carlos nodded. "Tumble, juggle, dance a jig. Booger gag, then flip your wig. I did everything but the wig-flipping part."
"What's the wig-flipping part?" the king asked.
"My hat," Carlos said. "I throw it really high in the air, and it lands back on my head. It's pretty cool. I practiced it for a long time."
The king nodded. "All right. Go ahead."
"Really?" Carlos asked.
"Yes," the king said. "Do your trick."
"WOO!" Carlos triumphantly yanked off his jester hat and hurled it high up in the air. He braced himself for his routine's dazzling finish.
But the hat never came back down.
Carlos's and the king's eyes rose heavenward. The hat was tangled in the chandelier.
"Dang it," Carlos said.
The corners of King Carmine's mouth twitched a bit into something approaching a smile but didn't quite get there.
"You're lucky," the king said.
"I am?" Carlos didn't feel lucky at all.
The king nodded. "Those chandelier candles are usually lit. You're lucky the lamplighter quit yesterday." The king's mouth twitched again. "Your hat could've gone up in flames."CHAPTER 2
Prince Carlos Charles Charming clinked and clunked down the castle hallway. He reached a plain wooden door with rusty hinges and opened it slightly. It made a creaking sound. Inside, lying on a raggedy bed of straw, was perhaps the happiest man in Faraway Kingdom.
"Carlos, my boy!" Jack the Jester shouted with joy. "Good news! The new Hammacher Jester catalog arrived today!" He riffled through the catalog's pages with the eagerness of a puppy. "Look at this! A jewel-encrusted whoopee cushion! Fake vomit made by Bavarian artisans! And ..."
Jack was so excited by the cool stuff on each page that it took him a few moments to notice how Carlos was dressed. The old man's smile faded. "Dear goodness, young'un. Why are you wearing that?"
Carlos was clad from head to toe in an iron suit so heavy and hot that he could barely stand up.
"Dad's making me wear it," Carlos said.
Jack sprang to his feet. He was an old man, but many years of tumbling, juggling, and dancing jigs had made him as nimble as a ballerina. The dark brown skin of his face was wrinkled with laugh lines. And, at this moment, frown lines. "Well, that's ridiculous! Jesters can't tumble, juggle, and dance jigs in armor! There's not enough mobility, son! Your dad is a good king — a very good king — but he doesn't understand jestering. I'll have a talk with him about this armor business."
Carlos sighed miserably. "Dad is making me wear armor because he doesn't want me to be a jester."
Jack's smile melted away. "Oh, I see," he said. "So I guess we'll need to reschedule your stilt-walking lesson."
"I guess so." Carlos's throat tightened. "Dad says I need to be more of a prince. It's my duty."
"Heh heh. Doody." Because he was a jester, Jack always thought of the word doody whenever he heard duty. His chuckle, however, was halfhearted at best. Soon the old man's mouth stretched into a proud, determined straight line. "Let me show you something."
Jack scampered to a hefty wooden chest, flung open the lid, and dug around inside. By the time he found what he was looking for, the floor of his room was littered with chattering teeth, rubber chickens, and googly-eyed glasses.
"Take a look at these!" Jack expertly fanned out a stack of trading cards. Each card featured a portrait of a colorful jester.
Some of the portraits showed jesters balancing on balls.
Others showed jesters riding pigs.
Most of them, however, showed jesters squirting things with water. Jesters loved to get squirty.
And every jester in every portrait wore a joyous, impish smile.
Carlos couldn't help but smile back.
"See these?" Jack said. "These are my merry, mischievous ancestors. For two thousand years, members of my family have spread joy in castles, under circus tents, and at birthday parties. I am following in their jingle-toed footsteps. Do you know why?" Carlos's smile faded. He knew the answer to Jack's question but didn't respond.
"Say it," Jack said.
"Duty," Carlos mumbled.
"Say it correctly!" Jack demanded.
"Doooody," Carlos said.
"Yessir!" Jack sprang onto his bed, stretched out his arms, and spoke as if he were addressing a crowd of thousands. "Making people laugh is the world's most honorable profession! A laughing world is a happier world! A more peaceful world! A jolly, jelly-belly, silly world!"
Then Jack let out an alarming shout: "CARLOS! THINK FAST!"
A spray of water squirted from the flower pinned to Jack's shirt. But Carlos had learned from his months of jester training. He effortlessly deflected the water with his shield.
Jack nodded with satisfaction. "Nice reflexes, kiddo."
Normally a compliment from Jack would fill Carlos with joy, but not today.
"I want to make people laugh," Carlos sighed. "I've wanted to make people laugh ever since I heard my first fart joke."
"I told it to you when you were four years old," Jack said. "Even at that age, I could see you had the soul of a jester. You had a little twinkle in your eye." Jack smiled at the memory. "Do you remember the joke?"
"Why did the teacher fart in the empty classroom?" Carlos asked.
"Because she was a private tooter!" Jack boomed.
And, just like old times, the two forgot their troubles and laughed themselves silly.
But their laughs were cut short when Carlos's mom, Queen Cora, burst through the doorway. She was a big woman with an even bigger personality. She was perhaps the second happiest person in Faraway Kingdom. A smile spread across her tan face from ear to ear.
"Oh, there you are!" She clasped her hands together in delight. "Let me get a look at my little knight in shining armor! Is the suit uncomfortable anywhere?"
"It's uncomfortable everywhere," Carlos said.
But the queen didn't hear Carlos's complaint. She had a hard time hearing anything when she was excited. She was often excited. And now, she was very excited.
"Oh, you are so handsome!" She gave Carlos a big bear hug. His armor rattled in protest. "You will be the most handsome dragon slayer in all the land!"
"Dragon slayer?" Jack sputtered. "Dmmun slmmph?" Carlos sputtered. (His face was smushed into his mom's shoulder.)
"What was that, honey?" the queen asked.
"Mmmuphuh!" Carlos said.
"You must speak up, dear," the queen said. "Princes shouldn't mumble."
"Your Majesty," Jack interrupted. "I believe that your kind words have taken the prince's breath away!"
"Hm? Oh, deary my!" The queen released her son from her smothery, motherly hug. "So sorry. Yes, honey?"
Carlos gasped for air. "Dragon ... (gasp) ... slayer? (wheeze) I can't ... (cough cough) ... kill a dragon."
Cora fluttered her fingers as if to shoo away such a silly remark. "Of course you can!"
"But I've never used a sword!" Carlos said. "I've never even seen a dragon!"
But the queen didn't hear him. "Oh, this is so exciting! I'm so excited! You must be so excited, Carlos! Are you excited? Of course you are! For thousands of years Charmings have slayed dragons! And you will follow in their grand tradition! At last, you will do what comes naturally to you!"
"Fart jokes are what come naturally to me," Carlos said.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Prince Not-So Charming: Once Upon a Prank"
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