One of the most popular series in the library these days is Chris Colfer’s series The Land of Stories. With five fiction books, a picture book and a collection of classic fairy tales, it’s consistently one of our most requested series. Since he last volume of the series coming out in July, it seems like the right time to seek out some answers about why. So, when we got a new copy of the audio book, it was time to try it!
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Alex and Conner , 11-year-old twins, have had a horrible year. Not only was their father killed in a car accident, they’ve had to move from their beloved home to a small rental house, their mother had to sell the bookstore their father owned, and neither of them is doing well in school…for two totally different reasons. Alex is interested in everything and always knows all the answers, so some kids are resentful, while Conner falls asleep in class because he’s not really interested in anything. When their mother has to work a double shift on their birthday, the twins are happy that their grandmother can come for a visit and a party.
For a gift, their grandmother gives them her cherished copy of The Land of Stories…a book of fairy tales that the twins and the whole family have grown up sharing. It’s a wonderful surprise, and something both Conner and Alex will treasure.
But when the book starts humming late one night, Alex isn’t sure what is going on. Conner watches as his sister starts acting strangely, both at home and at school. Alex won’t tell him what’s going on, but he knows he has to figure it out. But he never would have guessed that the book is coming to life!
When Alex tumbles into the book–literally–Conner follows close behind. Even if it’s dangerous, there is no way he is going to let his twin get lost in a book without him! Upon landing, they discover that they’re in the middle of their favorite fairy tales…only nothing is quite as they remembered. Time has passed since the stories, and the kingdoms are in crisis. Goldilocks is a wanted fugitive, Red Riding Hood is a reclusive queen, and the Evil Queen has escaped prison to terrorize all the inhabitants. Stories are fun to read, but maybe not so fun to live in.
When a new acquaintance tells them about a spell–a wishing spell–that might get them home, Alex and Conner are determined to find all the ingredients. Can they travel the fairy tale kingdoms and retrieve the treasures to get them home?
I quite enjoyed the audio recording of The Wishing Spell. Chris Colfer is a delightfully flexible actor and his voices for the characters were wonderfully rich and varied. Listening, you can hear that he had a lot of fun interpreting his characters for the audio production. I was a little less impressed with the narrative sections; sometimes it felt like he was rushing through them to get to the voices. Still, it was a good solid recording that is enjoyable for all ages of listeners. If you enjoy thrilling quests, adventures with a touch of humor, and fairy tales, this series is for you!
I would recommend The Land of Stories books for kids in third through sixth grade. I think avid fans of fairy tales would enjoy them a little earlier, and their enjoyment would last a little longer. If you’re looking for something to listen to on a family car trip, this is a good choice. If you’re a fan of tv shows like Once Upon a Time, or Disney fairy tale movies, this series is right up your alley!
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If you come to the library and The Land of Stories is not available, think about trying some of our other titles with similar themes: Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, or The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley are all wonderful books on CD that should also appeal to fans of Alex and Conner. If you’re looking for books to read in print, try the Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski, The Hero’s Guide series by Christopher Healy or the Half Upon a Time series by James Riley. These are all adventurous, fun series with a fairy tale background.
And as always, if you’re looking for help or book, media or other suggestions, ask one of our librarians. That’s what we’re here for!