The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell. By Chris Colfer. 8 CDs. 8:59 hrs. Hachette Audio for AudioCo. 2012. ISBN 978-1-61969-125-4. $69.99.
Gr 4-7 - Like a kinder, gentler Inkheart, (Chicken House 2003), Chris Colfer's first novel (Little Brown, 2012) features a parallel world residing within the pages of a family book — a world whose inhabitants are, in general, ignorant of any world other than their own. Into this appropriately named "Land of Stories" fall 12-year-old twins, Alex and Connor. After the initial excitement of meeting the likes of Goldilocks, Sleeping Beauty, and other fairytale world denizens, the twins are anxious to return home. The way out, however, is not as simple as the way in. They must gather items from a cryptic riddle to perform the Wishing Spell, and soon discover they are not alone in seeking these items. A mysterious girl tracks them and perils await. The weighty danger and adventure is lightened by the wisecracking Connor, a perfect foil for Alex, his more serious sister. If the twins are a little too lucky and clueless at times (a well-read girl like Alex would surely know to avoid the gingerbread cottage in the woods), and phrasing is occasionally trite, it's a small price to pay for an otherwise satisfying adventure. As one might expect from Glee star, Chris Colfer, the narration is superb. His youthful voice is ideal for the roles of the young siblings as well as the large cast. He speaks conversationally in a pleasing voice, although the constant refrain of "he said," "she said," can become tiresome. Colfer's popularity and top-notch narration should ensure a fine reception for this first title in a projected series.
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Audio and print excerpts for The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell are available on the publisher's website.