Saturday, September 1, 2012

Kid Konnection: The Land of Stories (Audio)

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you an audiobook that was written and performed by a very popular young actor.

Summary: 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 fairytales.

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. -- Hachette Audio

If you were at this year's BEA, then you couldn't help but notice the crowd that gathered for Chris Colfer, one of the breakout star's from televisions Glee. It was crazy long, way too long for me, but I did manage to catch a glimpse of him as I walked down Hachette's aisle. My daughter is still upset with me for not getting a picture or his autograph, but I did eventually get the next best thing -- a copy of the audiobook THE LAND OF STORIES: THE WISHING SPELL.

THE LAND OF STORIES is a middle-grade novel that gives readers some unique twists on the classic fairytales that we knew and loved as kids. It combines the present day with the fairytale world and gives glimpses into the lives of who's who of the fairytale world. Characters including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Prince Charmings all make appearances; and readers discover what happened to them after the conclusion of their fairytale stories.

So here's the premise... Alex and Connor are twin eleven year olds who have had a fairly tough time of things lately. Their dad passed away in a tragic accident and, as a result, their mother was forced to work extra long hours to pay the bills. Alex internalizes her grief and becomes the ideal student, always trying to please; while Connor is kind of the class clown and slacker.

For their birthday, their grandmother came for a visit; and she left them a copy of The Land of Stories, a treasured book which contained many of the stories their father told them while he was alive. Alex begins noticing some very strange sounds coming from the book, and eventually she and Connor learn the hard way that this book is a gateway to another land. It's in this "land of stories" that they meet the fairytale characters, both good and bad, and experience one adventure after another as they try to find a way to return home.

I have to admit that I wasn't entirely sure that I was going to enjoy this book. This might sound horrible, but it was written by an actor and a pretty young one at that. I had to question if he could really write or if his name was popular enough to sell books. After spending quite a few hours listening to this novel, I have to say that I was pretty impressed. THE LAND OF STORIES was a cute and very entertaining story, and I can definitely see that young kids are going to love Connor and Alex and their various adventures.

While I wouldn't say that the writing was outstanding, I did think it was good. Mr. Colfer definitely took his very original idea and turned it into a fun story. There was plenty of action and excitement, as well as lots of humor; and I give him major kudos for coming up with some cute interpretations of some classic stories and characters. One thing's for sure, Mr. Colfer is an extremely creative guy!

As a mom, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to other parents and their children. It's a cute story that also has loads of adventure so it will appeal to young readers. However, it also has some fantastic messages that will appeal to the parents. As is the case with many classic fairytales, there are underlying messages about self-confidence, loyalty, friendship, sacrifice, and courage. Overall, it's just a sweet story!

Having said that, I did have a few slight issues with the story. First of all, I thought it was a little long. The print version of the book is almost 450 pages, and the audio was almost nine hours. I guess in the age of Harry Potter, kids wouldn't blink at the length; however, I thought it could have been shorter and still included all of the major scenes. In addition, I did think the story was fairly predictable, but I guess that's probably the nature of the story. Since THE LAND OF STORIES is technically a modern-day fairytale, it didn't surprise me that there would be a happy ending, but I also knew that no matter how sticky the situation, the kids would find a way out.

I still don't know that I'm able to fairly judge the quality of audiobook narrators, but I can assure you that Chris Colfer was absolutely perfect to read THE LAND OF STORIES. Of course, he truly knew and loved these characters, and it was apparent for the entire story. I thought he did an excellent job with the various characters' voices and accents; and I have to say that there were a ton of characters in this story, so that's really saying something. In addition, some of his voices and accents were absolutely hilarious. For instance, Little Red Riding Hood and the magical harp were extremely funny to me.

Overall, I was impressed with Mr. Colfer's debut novel and I look forward to what the future holds for this talented young actor and writer.

Thanks to the publisher for providing an audiobook of this novel.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too! 


bermudaonion said...

I remember you mentioning Booking Daughter would die if she knew you were that close to him. It sounds like Colfer is an author to watch for.

Beth F said...

I bet he did a great job with the narration. Sounds fun even if it is long.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

So glad to hear this turned out well because I too am skeptical of books written by actors - even though statistically it is impossible I think for there NOT to be good writers among them! LOL

Unknown said...

Sounds like an interesting book. Seems pretty long for a kids book though. 9 hours of audio - wow!

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

Sounds like a really fun book. Perfect for long rides in the car to keep the kids enthralled.

Ali said...

I have the same prejudice about famous people who go on to write books. Fortunately there are exceptions!

I just happened to post today about some YA steampunk books I've read with my 12 year old, so I went ahead and added the post to your Mr. Linky. :)

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine said...

I was skeptical about why he was writing a book too until I heard him speak at the BEA author breakfast. He talked about how he's been working on these stories since he was in elementary school! He showed a picture of an illustration he did for the book when he was in fourth grade next to the illustration of the same scene drawn by the professional illustrator of this book. It was pretty cool.