When twins Alex and Conner receive a fairy tale collection for their 12th birthday, the brother and sister are soon sucked inside the book's pages. They find themselves in a world where Happily Ever After already happened, where the Big Bad Wolf's pack is hell-bent on vengeance, Snow White's wicked queen has escaped incarceration, and Red Riding Hood has ascended to her own kingdom. In narrating his own book, Colfer--of Glee fame--lacks the charisma he so frequently displays on television, and is outmatched by the book's large cast of fairy tale characters. Snow White, the Evil Queen, Goldilocks, Alex, Conner, and most everyone else sound too similar: all of them reduced to a low, throaty whisper. Additionally, Colfer's narration is almost indistinguishable from the voices he creates for his characters. This is particularly unfortunate because his book is filled with larger-than-life characters--requiring a dramatic and larger-than-life performance. Ages 8-up. A Little, Brown hardcover. (July)[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC
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.-Lisa Taylor, Ocean County Library, NJ[Page 59]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.