A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Much of the humor in these books involves the narrators' fractured understanding of important writings or oddball role in historic events. This is hilarious for readers who know the real story and get the references; others will be really confused.
Fairy tales and nursery rhymes are necessary to make life better; kindness and compassion are good; it's best to avoid killing your subjects.
Positive Role Models
Poor Charlie Charming, Frog Prince and Red's love interest, is the real hero here, keeping Red from going completely off the rails in her ego-fests. The Fairy Godmother befriends Mother Goose and inspires her to be a better, kinder person.
Violence & Scariness
Red admits the possibility of killing her subjects, but recommends avoiding it -- though she does suggest how the Evil Queen could have done a much better job of killing Snow White. She describes the time she and her grandma were eaten by the Big Bad Wolf and spent time in his stomach before being cut out again. Mother Goose travels through turbulent times in history and meets assorted ill-fated characters (e.g., Anne Boleyn and Marie Antoinette), but the gore happens offstage.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Red finds herself in trouble with her subjects over her interspecies romance with the Frog Prince, leading to a discussion of just what kind of interspecies romance is OK: "I would hope that by now we're sophisticated enough to realize love is love, regardless of age, color, gender, and, yes, species"; Mother Goose has flings with Leonardo da Vinci and Henry VIII.
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One use of "schmuck"; occasional double entendre. A subject describes Red as "shacking up with a giant amphibian." The exclamation "My God."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
As in the series, Mother Goose has been into gambling and strong drink from childhood and makes frequent reference to both activities -- and the trouble they get her into. Red and Grandma improve their gambling skills by playing cards while in the wolf's belly.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Adventures from the Land of Stories, first released as a boxed set in 2015, includes two short books supposedly written by characters in Chris Colfer's Land of Stories series. Readers who don't know this particular version of Red Riding Hood and Mother Goose from the series are going to be really confused almost at once. In the course of delivering her multi-century, multi-world backstory, the hard-drinking, hard-gambling Mother Goose romps through history, from having romances with Leonardo da Vinci and Henry VIII to giving really bad advice to Marie Antoinette, finishing with a march in a marriage-equality parade. In a bizarre interlude, Mother Goose distracts a bunch of kids dying of the Black Plague by reciting nursery rhymes. (They die anyway, but she finds her calling.) By contrast, the Red Riding Hood book, "written" by the most over-the-top, self-absorbed character in the series, is often hysterically funny as Red instructs her fans on the fine points of ruling (e.g., "Peasants Are Like Pets"), with mangled advice from Machiavelli to Hamlet. In the series, she's romantically involved with the Frog Prince, so here she offers a tale of how her subjects objected to interspecies romance, and what she did about it.
Is It Any Good?
Fans of Colfer's best-selling fairy tale series will be right at home, and often in stitches, with this kitchen-sink barrage of double entendre, advocacy, over-the-top characters, and pure looniness. Others, especially those who wander into this Land of Stories series sidetrack expecting something a bit more traditional in the way of fairy tales, are going to be very, very confused.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.