A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Wishing Spell, by Glee's Chris Colfer (who plays Kurt Hummel), is the first book in the six-volume The Land of Stories series. It's warm, heartfelt, and 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. There are a few a few instances of mild flirting. And in one episode, a hideous troll princess offers to let the the twins go if she can kiss Conner. There are a few instances of "damn" and some name calling (including "jerk," "bimbo," "crappy," "stupid"). The audiobook is narrated by author-actor Colfer.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- Author: Chris Colfer
- Genre: Fairy Tale
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, 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
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 17
- Number of pages: 448
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: May 29, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love fairy tales and fantasy
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