The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
Genre: Children’s literature
Published by Little Brown, 2012
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: I don’t think I could re-read this one.
Reviewed by Indiana
In so many ways, this fits the modern definition of a classic fairy tale. Yes, I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but hear me out.
The Land of Stories begins with Alex and Connor, sixth grade twins, struggling through school and life after recently losing their father. On their birthday, their grandmother shows up and gives them a book—which you can probably guess the title of. Alex notices it start to glow and soon the pair literally get lost in the book.
Throughout the rest of the story, the twins meet Grimm’s fairy tale characters and others that their father had told them about, as they struggle to get home. The only way to do that is to gather all the ingredients needed for a Wishing Spell, a complicated and demanding spell that the twins believe is their only hope in getting home.
Along their quest, they meet Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, Goldilocks, Ariel, and a few villainous wolves and an evil queen.
Alex is your typical type A character, who is perfect at school, gets great grades and is smart but doesn’t have a ton of friends. Her only true friends come from the story books she reads (or so she believes). Connor is the complete opposite; he’s terrible at school work, but is quite popular and has a charming sense of humor.
At times, the book is a bit too predictable, even as a children’s book. I wish there had been a plot twist or two. It was also a bit tedious how often these classic fairytale characters popped up.
However, I will say that Colfer at least gave them unique characteristics based on their stories. Little Red Riding Hood is a bit ditzy and shallow, while Goldilocks is a badass and an outlaw.
By the end, the twins find out a “shocking truth” about their family, which is difficult to be shocked by. But it somehow works as an ending because it’s easy to view the book as a solid stand alone and not as a series, but it sets up the possibility for other books (of which there are now five).
As I’ve been reading more children’s literature lately, I’ve come to rediscover how much depth the genre can contain. Some of the most stunning works can be read and understood by children. While The Land of Stories is not a particularly deep book, it’s an adventure that kids can easily be drawn into and getting kids to enjoy being lost in a book is sometimes just as important as getting them to read “literary” books.