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The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell Hardcover – July 17, 2012
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From School Library Journal
"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
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 book is nicely written, but the real stars of the book are the characters. All the characters have disarming vulnerabilities and a wisdom you don't expect in a book written for kids, or even in a book written by someone so young.
It's especially noteworthy that the female characters are always independent, driven, wise and strong. That isn't always the case in traditional tellings of these tales.
There are still a few typos in the Kindle version, but nothing too distracting.
Honestly, I'd recommend this to almost anyone, ages 8+. It's a fun, easy read and I'd be a lot happier about kids reading these fairytales than pretty much everything else out there.
So, I wonder if I'm the only Glee fan to give Chris a poor review. Now, the premise is pretty good, and I love how all the kingdoms are next to each other, and there are parts so far that I have enjoyed. I am on Chapter 10 - about halfway through - and this is such a weak book. I think too many people were "supportive" before this book went to print. Where was his editor? I quote: Alex and Connor (the main characters) "were so petrified, they were paralyzed." Um, yeah, that's kind of the definition of petrified. Earlier in the story, when the twins were given the (magical) storybook by their grandmother (a book that had been treasured by generations of their family, apparently), Alex thinks "It was like receiving an heirloom from a relative that was still alive." Yes, Chris, getting a treasured family object from a visiting grandmother is a lot like receiving an heirloom from a living relative - in that those are exactly the same things.
Last example, when the children are in the storybook land, and Alex is looking at the buildings of the city, she thinks "It was like being in a storybook."
This is harsh, but there's an episode of "Friends" where Joey has to write an official letter, and so he uses a thesaurus to change every other word to a synonym, reducing the letter to gibberish. There's a place or two in this book where I imagine Chris did the same thing.
This is why it's worth having a really good editor. I don't know if there were too many "yes-men," or if Chris Colfer refuses to listen to any constructive criticism, but I expected a lot more from him. I hope the third book in the series is more polished (it's too late for the second), and I wish that fewer fans had written such glowing reviews. The good parts have such potential that with some serious attention to writing, this could have been a much better read.