#821 A Grimm Warning by Chris Colfer

A Grimm Warning by Chris ColferA Grimm Warning by Chris Colfer

This installment of The Land of Stories finds Conner taking a trip to Europe, for a special reading of some newly found Grimm’s fairy tales. Alex is back in The Land of Stories. That’s where she stayed. She’s well on her way to being on the counsel and a serious apprentice to the fairy godmother.

Conner finds that a couple of the Grimm’s stories are very similar to the stories he wrote, inspired by The Land of Stories. The last story is strange though. It seems to be a warning. It talks of an army heading for The Land of Stories. It would take them two-hundred years to get there. Conner also has reason to believe that Mother Goose was involved in the whole thing.

He desperately tries to get a hold of Alex via his communication mirror, but she’s off being a fairy and talking with a boy. He does manage to talk to Mother Goose and she sends him on a mission. He must go and check that a portal is still closed. A couple of other people get dragged in along the way. Conner and his friends make it through the portal to The Land of Stories, but the army has made it as well. The first place they go is the prison and start freeing the prisoners to fight on their side. A masked man tells them they must have a dragon to win against the fairies.

Conner and Alex go throughout the kingdom trying to gain support to fight against the army. It’s rough going, but soon an all-out battle between a French army and the people from The Land of Stories is waging. The man in the mask is quite a secret, one that Alex finds out and it does not please her.

What I liked

I really liked that this book included references to the Grimm’s fairy tales. If you didn’t know, I spent over a year studying the fairy tales and I wrote a post about each one. So if you want to get into some of that, just peruse my site and you’ll find all kinds of writing about the Grimm’s stories.

This really brought to mind The Grimm’s Brothers movie. There were French army guys in it as well, who sought to burn down everything mysterious, which sounds an awfully lot like what was happening in this book.

There was also intrigue and something that I had been expecting for a while.

What I didn’t like

I enjoyed it, I don’t really have anything bad to say about it.

Overall

I still say that I would prefer to hop into Middle Earth, if I was going to hop into any stories.

Weigh In

If such a place as The Land of Stories existed, do you think our modern armies could have any chance against them?

If you had a choice between living in our world, and a world like The Land of Stories, which would you choose?

#780 The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer

The Enchantress Returns by Chris ColferThe Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer

It’s been an entire year, a whole, long year since Conner and Alex have been to the Land of Stories, in fact, they haven’t even seen their grandmother. What in the world is going on? Things are changing in their lives in the regular world. It turns out their mom has a boyfriend, Dr. Bob. The children didn’t expect this at all. They thought Dr. Bob was a friend and now Dr. Bob wants to marry their mom.

The kids come to terms with this and on the night Dr. Bob is set to propose, Mom doesn’t show up back at home. Mom is late and Mom is never late. Who does show up is their grandmother, the Fairy Godmother, and a bunch of soldiers from The Land of Stories. Conner and Alex are put under lock down in the house. Their mom is gone. The story finally comes out though, their mother has been kidnapped by the most bad enchantress of them all. Everyone thought she was dead, but she’s back in full force and she wants to take over not only The Land of Stories, but also the regular world.

Conner and Alex feel that they have to get back to The Land of Stories, but they’re not sure how. They think the best place to look is their grandmother’s cabin. It’s a bit treacherous getting there, but they finally do and find a painting. If the kids from The Chronicles of Narnia can get into Narnia through a painting of Narnia, Alex and Conner decide they can get into The Land of Stories through a painting of The Land of Stories. It works, but not without sinking the house.

The two are back in The Land of Stories, but things are bad. People start getting kidnapped left and right. Awful things are happening. The twins learn that they can create a want to counteract the power of the enchantress, but they must go collect the most prized possessions of so-called villains. The quest will not be easy, nor will it be fun, especially since Red Riding Hood is along for the adventure, and we all know how she is.

What I liked

I’m still liking the series. I like that Alex and Conner go back to The Land of Stories. I was kind of hoping that their Dad would still be alive somewhere in The Land of Stories, but I guess it’s not going to happen.

I like that this series gives a back story  and second-opinion to many of the so-called villains of the fairy tales. Yeah, some of them were truly awful, but if you look at their situations, almost anyone would be awful if they were in their places.

What I didn’t like

I’m not sure about this Dr. Bob guy. What an ordinary name. I think Bi-lo has a knock-off of Dr. Pepper called Dr. Bob. Go get me some Diet Dr. Bob. We’re Dr. Pepper drinkers in this house, because it’s the drink of agnostics…that was South Park, but I do prefer Dr. Pepper. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve drunk/guzzled, a lot of Diet Cokes, but Diet Dr. Pepper  and I have a committed relationship. I’m also not an agnostic.

Getting back to the book–as I said, I’m not sure about Dr. Bob yet, maybe he’s great, or maybe he’s an evil sorcerer disguised as a doctor.

Overall

You know, in some part, if you think about it, fairy tales are very female-centric…well, at least the ones Disney likes to remake. The rest of them are quite male-centric.

Weigh In

Would you go live in a fairy tale world?

What do you think about Dr. Bob?

#774 The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

The Wishing Spell by Chris ColferThe Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

Alex and Conner have had a difficult time of things since their father died. They’re twins. They both go to the same class. Their mother is always working, but their grandmother comes by to see them every once in a while. It’s their birthday, but their mom has to work. Their grandmother comes in and helps them celebrate. She gives them a book of fairy tales; it’s a family book.

Conner starts hearing strange noises coming from his sister’s room in the night. She’s not getting a lot of sleep. She doesn’t know the answers in class. Conner finally discovers what the problem is; it’s the book. The book lights up and vibrates. What’s more, Alex has been pushing things into the book–pencils, dirty socks, other books. The things go in, but they don’t come out.

After a particularly upsetting day at school, Alex wants to see if her hand will go into the  book, and if it will come back out. She’s in the middle of the experiment when Conner barges into the room. She loses her balance and ends up falling, head first, into a book of fairy tales. Conner jumps in after her. They find themselves in a land they thought couldn’t be real. Goldilocks is an outlaw there. Red Riding Hood is real. Sleeping Beauty is real. The big bad wolf is real. It’s all real. Not everyone is good and not everyone is how one would expect from the traditional fairy tales. Some of the bad guys aren’t actually as bad as you might think.

Conner and Alex learn that there is a way to get out of the land of stories, but they must gather a specific set of items in order to make a wish. The catch is that the wish has already been used once and it can only be used once more. All of this would be fine if Conner and Alex were the only ones looking for the wish items, but they’re not. Someone else is right on their tail.

What I liked

One of my friends really likes this book series so I thought I would give it a shot. It is enjoyable. I love fairy tales, if you haven’t figured that out from reading with me for a while. I do like non-traditional takes on traditional tales. I mean, really, what if the wicked witch really wasn’t all that bad? I’ve already pointed out that the chances of Snow White becoming a well-adjusted human being are pretty slim because she was only valued for her beauty, just like her evil step-mother. Once that beauty goes away, or someone surpasses you, what are you supposed to be valued for? Think about it. All things considered, Snow White may have eventually ended up in the same darn place the evil queen was, resorting the murder and evil in order to maintain that one thing that set you apart from everyone else, because people insisted on only valuing you for that one thing.

I like the idea of a fantasy world and a real world colliding. I think it’s great. Wouldn’t it be so neat to find out that these fairy tale things were real? It would certainly make life more interesting.

I thought some of Conner’s summations about fairy tales were pretty funny.

What I didn’t like

I quite enjoyed this book, so there’s not a whole lot I didn’t like.

Ok, I did find some of it a bit predictable. So the bad guy wasn’t all bad–you don’t say. Astounding, simply astounding.

Overall

I want to fall into a book, specifically The Lord of the Rings, in a passage with Aragorn, preferably one where he’s not wearing all of his clothes.

Aragorn, it’s ok, we’ll have that sword to rights in no time. * wink, wink*

Weigh In

What book would you fall into?

If you found a fairy tale was real, how would it shape your current life?

#750 Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris

 Once Upon a Marigold by Jean FerrisOnce Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris

Christian ran away from home and hid in the woods, that’s where Ed found him. Ed was a troll, who lived in a cave of crystals and wanted to get in on the tooth fairy business, but Mab wasn’t handing any of it over. Christian told Ed he would accuse him of kidnapping him if he ended up back at his parents’ house, so Christian stayed with Ed. Ed decided that Christian had to learn how to be a decent person, so he taught him all the manners he could find in his books.

Christian grew up and often watched the royal family across the river through a telescope. There were four daughters, three of them triplets. Christian watched as the older three got married and the youngest was still there. She liked to read on the terrace. 

One day Christian send a message to her with a pigeon he had trained to deliver letters. A correspondence soon started between the two. Her name was Marigold. Christian decided to get a job at the castle. At first, Marigold didn’t know who he was. He learned of a curse upon Marigold, but it didn’t bother him any. As it turns out the queen, Marigold’s mother was up to some nefarious plottings. Christian and his inventions would be central in stopping those plottings, or at least delaying them. 

What I liked

This story was definitely fanciful. It has many fairy tale elements we’re all used to, but a few more modern-day things thrown into the mix. Most of the characters were enjoyable. The story between Christian and Marigold is sweet. 

What I didn’t like

This book ends exactly as you’d expect. It’s not a bad ending; it’s just predictable. 

I find the use of “p-mail” silly. It’s clearly a play on “E-mail” which wouldn’t exist for quite some time after this era. It’s not a real era of history, but it closely parallels real eras of history that don’t have email. I know it’s pigeons, but in reality, they would have just said, “I’m going to send Bob a message by pigeon.” There wouldn’t be all this “p-mail” nonsense, but with this said,”p-mail” was intended to be a bit of a joke to lighten up the story, so pick your battles I suppose. 

I also find it highly unrealistic that Christian would be accepted just like that without any verification of his identity, but maybe that’s a result of growing up through a post-9/11 world. 

Overall

…Fun and cute story.

Weigh in

Would you use messenger pigeons if you had access to them?

Would you run away from home and stay there?


Oh Hans! Babies Don’t Come from Storks

Oh Hans! Babies Don't Come from StorksOh Hans! Babies Don’t Come from Storks

Where  do babies come from? Many parents dread this question right? Well, babies come from storks, or magical fairies, or special watering cans, surely, they don’t exist because of sex?

This conversation always reminds me of a scene from Addams Family Values. The Addams are at the hospital, Morticia is having a baby. There are some other kids there and their mom is also having a baby. The girl is telling Wednesday and Pugsley about how their mom got pregnant. There was something about a fairy maybe and something else, it was a big drawn-out explanation as to how their mom got pregnant. Wednesday simply says, “Our parents had sex.” In the end, it’s the simplest explanation.

Hans was quite fond of the idea of stork bringing babies. Hans was a grown man. I’m pretty sure he knew where babies came from. Even if Hans never got around to having sex, he had probably figured out that women got pregnant because they had sex with a man at some point. That didn’t stop him from writing about storks bringing babies. Hans even wrote an entire story about how there were babies in a pond and then they got put in a flower and then the story took them somewhere.

Then there were all the other stories where Hans mentioned storks taking babies to people’s homes. How did the storks get their babies? Did it just magically happen? Or were storks the only ones who had sex?

I don’t know if Hans’ thought up this entire idea that storks brought babies, or maybe if he just took the idea and ran with it. Because of Hans’ promotion of the idea, no matter who thought it up, we had a whole bunch of parents tell their kids that storks bring babies and it’s even been popularized in our culture. I’ve seen plenty of cartoons about storks bringing the baby, sometimes the wrong baby. There’s at least one Looney Tunes short to that effect.

I guess there was a point when people were so squeamish about this that they had to make up some fanciful story about where babies came from, but Hans, why? Why Hans why? Why write about it? Why perpetuate inaccurate ideas? Kids may be naive and sometimes stupid, but they’re smarter than “a stork brought your little brother.”