Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Bookwanderers

James, Anna. The Bookwanderers (Pages & Co. #1)
September 24th 2019 by Philomel Books
ARC provided by Follett First Look

Matilda (Tilly) is being raised by her grandmother and grandfather, who run a book shop in London, after the death of her father and disappearance of her mother when she was an infant. She is happy in the bookstore, and a big reader, so when a class project about a book is assigned, she happily tries to decide which book she should use, Anne of Green Gables and Alice in Wonderland being two contenders. Since it is midterm break and there is not much to do, she starts to hang out which Oskar, whose mother runs a bakery near the bookstore. After she finds a box of her mother's favorite books from childhood, odd things start to happen. She swears she sees Alice and Anne in the bookstore, and when she finally talks to Anne, she is whisked away to Avonlea with Oskar. Once her grandparents find out about this, they take her to the Underlibrary at the British Library, to talk to Amelia, the librarian. Both Tilly and Oskar are registered as Bookwanderers, and given some instruction and practice to keep them safe. They also meet with Mr. Chalke, who has been snooping around them, and who always seems displeased with everything. Tilly finds out some secrets about her parentage that lead her to search for her mother in the pages of her favorite book, The Little Princess. What else might she find as she investigates the enthralling life of a Bookwanderer?
Strengths: Ah. Cups of tea and cocoa, an on site pastry chef trying to recreate delicacies from books, and the ability to be sucked into stories-- avid readers will love this one. Tilly is pragmatic about her mother's disappearance and just wants to know more information, especially when she finds out the secret about her father (which I don't want to spoil). Oskar is a nice companion for her, and there is enough creepy tension with Mr. Chalke to make things interesting.
Weaknesses: I could have used a few more details about the mechanics of book wandering. Some are given, but I wasn't completely convinced somehow.
What I really think: While I enjoyed this, I think it would meet the same fate as Lois Lowry's The Willoughbys-- to sit unloved on the shelves. None of my students are too keen on Anne of Green Gables or Alice in Wonderland, vastly preferring new books to old. And remember, when you were born in 2006, even Spinelli's Star Girl (2000) is impossibly OLD! Since I would have about one student every five years who would like this one, I will stick to Prineas' The Scroll of Kings,  Shulman's The Grimm Legacy and Wexler's The Forbidden Library for my bookworms who long for magical book repositories. Avid readers over the age of forty seem more likely to enjoy this one.

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