The opening quote to Chris Colfer’s romp through fairy tale land is by C.S. Lewis reminding one and all that ‘some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again’. This twenty-three year old actor certainly sets a person at rights once you get into his nearly annotated coming of age version of nursery rhymes, fairy tale books and even what the French would say ‘sney characters. He expounded on the popular versions of nearly every story but you will excuse him during the summer because the humor imparted with it is so tidy and an innocent delight. Even some very adult wisdom is imparted so it’s particularly reassuring to read even on just a whim for the season.
Of course, the attraction for me was reading something which expounded a lot on castles. You’ll find the colorful map insert in the book before you turn to the title page and it is essential for keeping the story straight as fraternal twins, Alex and Conner Wishington, wend their way through an amazing new world which they navigate with a map, instructions and a journal whose authorship remains a mystery throughout the book with a surprising twist at the end when the author is revealed. This is a very cleverly constructed story with dialogue that is so modern it will definitely appeal to very young readers.
I recommend it for the humor alone. During their tour of Red Riding Hood’s Kingdom- don’t ask !- Alex and Conner happen upon several monuments and memorials. One circular fountain in the center is elaborately decorated with a shepherd boy and sheep which reads, “In Memory of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. You Were a Liar but You Were Loved”. The way in which Chris entwined nursery rhyme characters together along with the fairy tales was almost prodigious and the above stated humor is kept throughout, keeping the plot tight but not so intense that it would infuriate the reader. Even the mystery of the Evil Queen is given humane treatment and the laugh out loud humor along with the filling out to fullness of all these storybook characters is handled quite deftly.
One quote remains in my mind which I took away with me, when I finished the book, as a great pearl. It comes from Goldilocks…
Courage is one thing that no one can ever take away from you.
A dream is a wish your heart makes
when you’re fast asleep,
The Castle Lady