Katie Reads: The Land of Stories

For my very first lesson with some of my students, I asked them to write a paragraph about where they would go if they could go anywhere in time and space (I have a tardis in my classroom, and actually I’m using the Doctor as a vehicle to teach them about other places, come to think of it I should write a post about it because it’s been wildly popular with the students). One student wrote about how she would go to the Land of Stories. I googled the book and it sounded right up my alley, so when I needed a book for the plane ride to Florida I knew exactly what was on top of my list.

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Alex and Conner Bailey’s world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairy tales.
“The Land of Stories” tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.
But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.

Younger me would have been obsessed with this book. I’ve always loved fairy tale characters and reworkings based on them. A book where the main characters literally travel to the world where characters like Cinderella and Rapunzel live would be have captivated younger me. I keep saying “younger me” because although I liked the book, younger me would have loved it.

The prose was a little young, which may be due to this being the first novel by Chris Colfer. Some of the plot elements were also a little overly simplistic. For instance, I loved the idea of all the kingdoms ruled by all the different characters in fairytales, but I wish wish wish he hadn’t named them after the characters – “The Charming Kingdom”, “The Sleeping Kingdom”, “The Red Riding Hood Kingdom”. I don’t know why this bugged me the way it did, but it felt just a little too childish. A few of the challenges the children faced were also glossed over a little, which may have been in effort to keep the book from getting too long (it was already over 400 pages), but I almost would have preferred he stretched the story over two books or cut one or two of the quest items the children had to find in order to focus more on the others.

That said, I loved Alex. She’s a bookworm and good student – just like me when I was younger. Sometimes her reactions to things were a little extreme, but then again if I were actually in the fairytale world I would probably react the same way so… I also really liked seeing the different fairy tale characters, and how Colfer made some changes from the classical Disney versions without altering the characters to be unrecognizable.

I grabbed the second one at the library yesterday. I’m hoping that some of the problems I had with the prose will be ironed out in the next installment, and if nothing else then I’m excited that I can tell my student that I read this book she likes so much.

Stay magical readers!

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