FICTION

The Land of Stories

The Wishing Spell
2012. 438p. 978-0-31620-015-5. 17.99.
COPY ISBN
Gr 4-6–When Alex and Conner’s father unexpectedly dies, the twins lose the person who always had the perfect story to cheer them up. Then, on their 12th birthday, their grandmother gives them the book of fairy tales he used to read to them. Suddenly it seems to come to life, and the youngsters find themselves falling into the Land of Stories, seemingly with no way to get out. Desperate, they follow instructions in a mysterious journal: if they gather eight items from various residents in the kingdoms of the Land of Stories, they can complete the Wishing Spell and have one wish granted. After scaling castle walls, diving deep into the home of mermaids, and meeting characters from all of the beloved fairy tales, they are stymied by the Evil Queen, who has escaped from Snow White’s dungeon. With the hope of using the spell gone, the twins appear to have no way home until they meet Fairy Godmother, their own grandmother. In a way, they find comfort from their grief over their father’s death when they realize that they have been following his journal and that he grew up in this land. The writing quality in this adventure is inconsistent and detracts from the fast-paced story. The deep sadness of the twins comes through, but they are somewhat one-dimensional, since Alex is so much the nerd and Conner, the class clown. The plotline, however, pulls readers in and is entertaining, and Colfer’s passion for fairy tales shines through. Turn to Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark & Grimm (Dutton, 2010) for higher-quality writing in a recent fractured fairy-tale novel.–Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA

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