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What You Need to Know About The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer

These bestselling fairy-tale retellings, written by actor and author Chris Colfer, are family-friendly and great for middle-grade readers.

Land of Stories Series by Chris Colfer

It’s easy to fall into a reading rut over the summer. There are so many new books being published, it can be overwhelming to know what to pick up next. When you have a precocious young reader in the house, or maybe even in a classroom or summer camp, coming up with new book recommendations that are age-appropriate and entertaining can feel like a Sisyphean endeavor.

Luckily, one genre skates the line of familiar and fresh—the modern fairytale. This modern fairytale in particular is perfect for the whole family. Come explore the realm of The Land of Stories, penned by actor and author Chris Colfer.

What is The Land of Stories?

The Land of Stories is a fantasy adventure series following the twin sister-and-brother pair, Alex and Connor, as they fall from the real world into the world of fairy tales. 

Ever since Alex and Connor lost their father in a tragic car accident, they have relied on their mom, who works twice as hard to care for their family, and their grandmother. On the twins’ twelfth birthday, their grandmother gives them an old fairy tale book from her childhood. Alex discovers that the book hums, glows, and sucks items into its pages. 

Against Connor’s advice to throw the book away, Alex experiments by reaching into the book and falls into its story herself. Connor dives after Alex to rescue her, and their adventure begins.

Who is author Chris Colfer?

The Land of Stories was written by Chris Colfer, an American actor and author. Colfer is most popularly known for his role as Kurt Hummel on the musical television show, Glee, in groundbreaking storylines portraying the life of a young gay teenager. For the role, he won a Golden Globe, was nominated for an Emmy, and earned a place on the Time's 2011 list of the 100 most influential people in the world. 

Colfer always had a deep passion for writing. When he was seven, his sister was diagnosed with severe epilepsy, and imaginative storytelling helped him cope with the news. He wrote fairytale-inspired stories for his grandmother, who encouraged his creativity.

After Glee’s success, Colfer signed a book deal to make his fairy tale a reality. He wrote the first drafts to The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell behind the scenes of Glee’s filming and their hectic summer tour. Finally, on July 17, 2012, at only 22 years old, Colfer published the first book. 

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell

By Chris Colfer

In his debut, Colfer tells the story of Alex and Connor who, like the author and his sister, grew up hearing fairy tales. Now, however, they get the chance to be in one. Their first adventure in The Wishing Spell is to find their way home. 

The twins learn of an enchantment that can grant wishes, as long as they have eight spell ingredients. In search of the ingredients, Alex and Connor encounter fairy-tale friends and foes, like Froggy, a man trapped in the form of a frog, and Evly, an Evil Queen mourning her lost love. 

The twins must figure out who to trust as they find a way home. Along the way, they learn secrets about their lost father’s past, which sets up five more books of magical adventures.

Why read these books?

The Land of Stories is a fairytale adaptation. It gives new stories to characters we know and love (or maybe love to hate) from classic tales, like The Frog Prince, Snow White, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears, or even more modern fantasies, like The Chronicles of Narnia or Peter Pan.

Readers might be tempted to compare this series to The Sisters Grimm or maybe even The Spiderwick Chronicles. The Land of Stories certainly shares these other adventures’ remixing approach. However, what sets this series apart is the deep love and whimsy that characterizes Colfer’s voice. 

Often, fairytale adaptations can be cynical, using familiar wonders to explore hidden corruption—trading pixie dust and potions for grime and goo. When marketed to a middle-grade or young-adult readership, these stories provide handy metaphors for young people leaving the naivete of childhood into the turmoil of teenage years.

The Land of Stories operates differently. Sure, Colfer pens funny jokes to poke fun at fairy-tale tropes. However, at its core, the series uses fairy tales for their full escapist potential. Villains threaten the twins, but just as many friends and allies help them save the day. The fairy-tale world is full of danger, but it is also full of help and hope. Curiosity, determination, and creativity help the twins create a world better than they found it.

What kind of readers will enjoy these books?

The best audience for these stories is middle-grade readers. (The main characters are 12 years old, if that provides a good benchmark.) Students who struggle to enjoy books will love the action and adventure, while avid readers will be inspired to write their own stories after encountering Colfer’s playful interpretations.

What’s more, these books are funny. Unlike kids’ stories that rely on innuendo to get adults involved (Shrek, we love you, but you’re the biggest offender here), this series plays off pop-culture references and goofy interactions to keep readers chuckling. If you’re a parent looking for a book to read with your kids before bed, The Land of Stories will be entertaining for the whole family. Pick up The Wishing Spell, and you won’t want to put these books down until you finish with Worlds Collide.

Adventures and accolades

There are six books following Alex and Connor’s adventures in The Land of Stories. After the series’ success, Colfer penned three prequel books following other characters within the magical lands. The first prequel book, A Tale of Magic…, debuted at number 1 on The New York Times Best Seller List in 2019, like The Wishing Spell did seven years before. 

What’s more, the series is being adapted into a film series, penned and directed by Colfer himself, and everyone knows you have to read the book before watching the movie.