The Wishing Spell: The Land of Stories, Book 1 Book Poster Image

The Wishing Spell: The Land of Stories, Book 1



Captivating, imaginative story of kids in fairy-tale world.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers will learn the roots of some classic fairy tales. One of Alex's pet peeves is the modern tendency to sugar-coat the fairy-tale stories and radically change them, adding cuteness, sunshine, and butterflies and losing whatever lesson the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen were trying to teach. The twins here learn and apply the fairy tales' lessons in their quest.

Positive messages

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell offers strong messages about how family members love and support one another, despite their differences, and how those differences and special qualities help the kids confront new situations. Different characters come to the rescue in unexpected and ingenious ways.

Positive role models

Conner and Alex are believable kids with their own strengths and weaknesses and positive role models in their support of each other, as well as in the bravery and creativity with which they solve problems. Their mother's and grandmother's strong, loving support and their late father's bond with his children are solid and sustaining. Characters they meet along the way, notably Froggy (the giant spellbound amphibian who comes to their rescue), also show courage and helpfulness.

Violence & scariness

The kids are sometimes in peril, comic and otherwise, in encounters with assorted monsters and villains, including wolves, trolls, and the Evil Queen and her henchmen. While the kids don't suffer any real harm, many of their enemies come to a violent end in mishaps or combat.

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, by Glee's Chris Colfer (who plays Kurt Hummel), is warm and heartfelt, as well as imaginative. Twins Alex and Conner are transported to the world of fairy tales, in which they meet such characters as Goldilocks, Cinderella, and Snow White, all living new lives and playing a role in helping the kids get home. There's some fleeting danger to the kids at the hands of assorted villains, from wolves to the Evil Queen, and a number of wicked characters come to a violent but not graphically described end. 

What's the story?

Life has been hard for brainiac social outcast Alex and popular slacker Conner Bailey, sixth-grade twins, since the death of their beloved father. They've lost their home, and their mother has to work long hours to support them. Their grandmother visits when she can and leaves granddaughter Alex the family's heirloom book of fairy tales. One day, Alex and Conner fall into a scene in the book and find themselves in the land of fairy tales. The landscape is strangely familiar from their father's stories, but they must deal with a giant frog, trolls, and wolves, as well as many princes, princesses, heroes, and villains, in their quest to get home again. There are also revelations about well-known characters and how they're coping with their lives -- for example, it wasn't so easy for Cinderella, as a non-princess, to fit in at the palace, and there's a romantic tragedy in the Evil Queen's past.

Is it any good?


There's a real, heartfelt warmth to this book's characters and their situations, as well as the strong sensibility of an adult who hasn't forgotten the joys and the terrors of childhood.

Books that imagine fairy-tale characters outside the bounds of their own traditional stories are popular these days; The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom and Storybound come to mind. But author Chris Colfer says that the story lines and characters in THE LAND OF STORIES have been evolving in his mind since he was 10 years old, and it shows -- in a good way.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why authors keep returning to the characters in fairy tales for new stories. What makes them so compelling?

  • What do you think of the situations that Colfer places his fairy-tale characters in after their happily-ever-after endings? Are they believable?

  • If a fairy tale is supposed to teach a lesson, what lesson do you think this one teaches?

Book details

Author:Chris Colfer
Genre:Fairy Tale
Topics:Princesses and fairies, Book characters, Brothers and sisters, Fairy tales, Friendship, Great boy role models, Great girl role models
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:July 17, 2012
Number of pages:448
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 17
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of The Wishing Spell: The Land of Stories, Book 1 was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

Top advice and articles

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent Written byrosiegirl November 27, 2012

Skip it.

It is true that books that take a new look at characters are popular these days. But this is not a well written one.
Teen, 13 years old Written byBriarWindslow April 24, 2014

Cardboard Cutout Characters and Offensive to Kids

How on Earth did this book get a five star rating when The Ever Afters: Of Giants and Ice only got three and the Sisters Grimm series only four? I barely got through the first few chapters. The storyline is extremely predictable and flat. The characters were cardboard cutouts with no depth. The first, an extreme nerd obsessed with fairytales who, since she is the girl in this story, apparently HAS to be beautiful and blonde: "I can't wait for this lesson!" The second, a stereotypical pranky lady's man 'bro' who naps in class and doesn't try in school. I had heard great things about this book and expected more. This book was extremely offensive to kids everywhere because it flat out calls all of the children of this generation stupid and uneducated, obsessed with screens and movies, unaware of the world around them, terribly read, and unable to see over their own huge ego as they laugh at fart jokes and other stupid humor. Oh, EXCEPT for the angelic, beautiful, perfect, well-rounded girl who is the main character and the only person who has read a single fairytale! I was extremely offended by the way my generation was depicted. Even though there may be some people like that, all of the people I know are well read, much more mature, more educated, and well rounded. In all truth, it doesn't take much to be more well rounded than some of his characters. I didn't want to read the rest of the book because the author obviously has no respect for the demographic he is writing for, both in his cutout characters that would suffice for the brains that he seems to think we have and the way he portrays us: terribly.
Educator and Parent Written bytlclibrary August 26, 2013

Page Turner

This is an awesome book! My son Ryan really enjoyed it! I never knew Chris Colfer, a main character in glee, could write. It was an very exciting and overall good book.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?