Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, by Chris Colfer

Image result for the wishing spell

The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer is about the Bailey twins, Alex and Conner, who, even though they're twins, couldn't be more different. Alex is an exceptionally smart, kind, and caring girl, while Conner constantly falls asleep in class. They live with their mother in a small rental house, their mother struggling with money after the twins' father died in a car crash. They lived a simple life, until the twins' 12th birthday. Their grandmother surprises them with a few presents, and a huge dinner she cooked. Then she pulls out one last thing. A storybook titled The Land of Stories, a book that has been a big part of their childhood - a book that their grandmother read to them whenever they had visited:
"She returned carrying a large, old book with a dark emerald cover titled The Land of Stories in gold writing. Alex and Conner knew what the book was as soon as they saw it. If their childhood could be symbolized by an object, it was this book" (59). 
Later that night, Alex goes to bed like normal, when all of a sudden, the book's pages start to glow. Alex finds out that you can actually drop things into the book. When it would start to glow, Alex would put something on the pages and it would slowly sink into the book and disappear! 

Alex wonders what it would feel like if she put her hand into the book? So, one day, Alex puts her hand on the open book's pages. Like the other objects, it slowly sinks in. Alex keeps on going until her entire arm is in the book. Conner thinks that Alex is actually going to try to go into the The Land of Stories after she tells him that things can go in the book. So, while Alex has her arm in the book, Conner barges in to try to stop her, startling Alex, causing to fall over, headfirst into the book. Conner jumps in after her, and they become trapped in The Land of Stories

The twins start walking around, looking for a way home, and instead find a talking frog-man, who Conner calls "Froggy." He tells them about the Wishing Spell, a magical spell that grants the user one wish. Alex and Conner decide to use this spell to get home. They have to collect a series of items, and grouping them together activates the spell. However, the Wishing Spell can only be used twice; Froggy tells them that it has been used once before (by who, I wonder?). 

If that isn't enough, these items mostly belong to the monarchs of the fairy-tale world and the Evil Queen has escaped from the dungeons of Queen Snow White's palace and are after the same things that Alex and Conner are after. What could go wrong?

Do Alex and Conner manage to avoid the Evil Queen and get home safely? This story is about a pair of intelligent, brave (or completely insane) children weaved in with the lives of classic fairy-tale characters (Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks) as adults. The twins will face the Big Bad Wolf's descendants, escape being eaten alive by a witch and (accidentally) start a fire in Queen Red Riding Hood's castle in this thrilling novel!

And be sure to check out the 5 other books in this series: The Enchantress Returns; A Grimm Warning; Beyond The Kingdoms; An Author's Odyssey; and Worlds Collide!      


Daddy's afterthoughts:  So, a friend of mine messaged me that Julia's blog had made the front page of Reddit. Wow. Thank everyone so much for blowing my daughter's mind! The response has been (mostly) positive! Julia is beaming with pride and happiness! I read the comments, and wanted to address a few things, however...

No, Julia is not an "aspiring mommy blogger" masquerading as an 11-year-old girl. Yes, she and I co-blog, in that I review and give comments on her blog post rough drafts and then she revises them (sometimes more than once, as need be). Earlier blog posts have more of my influence, later blog posts are Julia weaned from my "helicoptering." (This post, for example, was all her, minus a few verb tense issues.) Lastly, I am a teacher, and so my "Daddy's afterthoughts" section is geared towards the parents of young readers. I try to avoid what one redditor called "pretentious intellectualising," but I suppose you can't please everybody.

Please continue to enjoy the blog! Thank you for your support and your comments, and
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  1. The concision and lack of self-awareness in these reviews makes them insanely helpful. I have 3 daughters, and I'll be bookmarking this blog.

  2. This is awesome. I love that we're encouraging kids to read and especially recommend books to others. I don't see a contact link on your page, but I'm a writer of a series of kid's books (both comic books and junior reader novels) called The Zipper Club. You can find out more about the books on our website @ http://thezipperclub.org, but I would absolutely love to find a way to get you some copies and have a review if you folks would be up for it!

    Check out the website and let me know!

    1. [Hi, this is Julia's dad -- That sounds great. Currently, we don't have a "system" in place to receive review copies, etc... truth be told, Julia's blog took off, popularity- and attention- wise, in a way we didn't expect. Is there a way I/we can contact you to arrange something?]

  3. Thank you. I really enjoy your blog, my husband found on reddit! I am wondering if you can recommend books or other info for my 8 year old son who loves books on war history. I have a hard time finding age appropriate books on this topic! Thank you!

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! If your son enjoys war history I suggest the 'I Survived' books: I Survived the Nazi Invasion and I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg.

  4. This is incredible! I too, loved reading when I was 11 and I wish I had done something like this! I'll be adding your blog to my list of bookmarked sites and will be revisiting.

  5. Hi Julia, what a lovely blog. Found it via Reddit too. I'm Eva from Wonderbly and we have an exciting book coming up in September: an incredibly personalised book created in partnership with Roald Dahl Estate. Spotted your review of Dahl's book and thought this might be a good fit. We'd love to send you a review copy! If interested, do drop me a line at evat@wonderbly.com and we'll arrange a review copy as soon as the book launches. Have a lovely day! Eva, PR at Wonderbly (wonderbly.com)

    1. Thank you! I would love to do a review of your book!

  6. As a one-time teacher of Literature, this is very heartwarming to see. I am overjoyed that you are feeding the need to read! We can't have enough of Literature and its understandings for our troubled world and this is just where it all starts.

  7. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work... contact voodoo priest



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