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The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories) Paperback – July 2, 2013
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
#1 New York Times Bestseller
"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 a book dedicated to the Glee star's grandmother...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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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.
I enjoyed the book from the start. The plot was fairly simple but the writing is what carried the story for me. I stayed up late just trying to finish the book but only failed when my tiredness got the best of me. The characters in the story are a mix of ones we all grew up reading about and some that Colfer has invented himself. The story seemed to move along at a brisk pace. One problem I have with the book is some things seemed too cookie cutter. Nearly everything I expected to happen happened and many things in the story were tied into a neat little bow. There was only one thing that definitely threw me but I'll let the reader find that themselves. The only other problem I had with the book is that Colfer relied on more telling instead of "show not tell". It didn't hinder the reading experience too much but I think the story may have benefit with using a few flashback scenes instead of having characters tell each other various stories of how things came to be. This book was definitely the "Once Upon a Time" for the younger generation. All and all, The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell was a great light read and something I'd definitely recommend to adults.
As the first book in the series, Wishing Spell is not surprisingly the lightest thematically and would be appropriate for most children. The book also contains moral lessons that are wonderful for children.