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The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell Hardcover – July 17, 2012
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-When Alex and Conner's father unexpectedly dies, the twins lose the person who always had the perfect story to cheer them up. Then, on their 12th birthday, their grandmother gives them the book of fairy tales he used to read to them. Suddenly it seems to come to life, and the youngsters find themselves falling into the Land of Stories, seemingly with no way to get out. Desperate, they follow instructions in a mysterious journal: if they gather eight items from various residents in the kingdoms of the Land of Stories, they can complete the Wishing Spell and have one wish granted. After scaling castle walls, diving deep into the home of mermaids, and meeting characters from all of the beloved fairy tales, they are stymied by the Evil Queen, who has escaped from Snow White's dungeon. With the hope of using the spell gone, the twins appear to have no way home until they meet Fairy Godmother, their own grandmother. In a way, they find comfort from their grief over their father's death when they realize that they have been following his journal and that he grew up in this land. The writing quality in this adventure is inconsistent and detracts from the fast-paced story. The deep sadness of the twins comes through, but they are somewhat one-dimensional, since Alex is so much the nerd and Conner, the class clown. The plotline, however, pulls readers in and is entertaining, and Colfer's passion for fairy tales shines through. Turn to Adam Gidwitz's A Tale Dark & Grimm (Dutton, 2010) for higher-quality writing in a recent fractured fairy-tale novel.-Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
"There's more in Colfer's magic kingdoms than Disney has dreamt of."―USA Today
"It will hit big with its combination of earnestness and playful poise."―The New York Times Book Review
"In The Land of Stories, Colfer showcases his talent for crafting fancifully imaginative plots and multidimensional characters."―Los Angeles Times
"A magical debut."―Family Circle
"It's hard not to love [the book]...Colfer gets off many good lines [and] the nifty ending ties the plot's multiple strands up while leaving room for further fairy tale adventures."―Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
Children (especially those who have feelings of inadequacy or who have suffered early tragedy, just like Colfer did as a child) will find lots of hope within its pages, along with bravery and kindness and self-acceptance. It's a book about how every seemingly happy ending creates a new set of struggles to contend with, which you have to keep trying your best to overcome -- while also making good moral decisions and finding some kind of peace in spite of hardship. It's also a book about how things often seem to happen for a reason, and how unexpectedly wonderful things can happen as a result of painful struggles.
The book has some interesting meditations on the nature of deep loneliness and longing -- and what people are capable of doing to remedy those heartaches. It's one of the strongest themes that run throughout the story. It appears as a theme in many ways with a variety of outcomes, and manages to be melancholy and uplifting at the same time, which is really lovely. Even with all of that sadness being examined so deeply, the book manages to be really funny and light.
Another thing the book does strongly is preaching the power of understanding and compassion, even towards people who have done terrible things. It doesn't condone those terrible things, and it heavily emphasizes doing the RIGHT thing, but it deftly paints the characters as more complex humans than the classic Good Vs Evil stories do, which makes it all much more interesting and more relevant to real world conflicts.
It isn't a perfect book, of course, and it could have benefited from a little more editing in a few places, but it's very charming and clever and more-than-a-little magical. I found myself giggling out loud at least once every chapter, and I even got a little teary-eyed in a few places. It will speak to children and adults on different levels emotionally while taking them all on a sweet, exciting adventure.
I can't wait to read my copy of the book to my young niece and nephew.
The reason I gave it 4 stars is because of the language. There is an occasional swear word which is just unnecessary. Obviously I didn't read those words aloud, but a few kids following along know that they were there. I have a hard time recommending a book to kids that has language that I wouldn't want them using.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Series Number: First of the Land of Stories Series
Author: Chris Colfer
(Audio) Narrator: Chris Colfer
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