Review: Pages & Co. Tilly and the Bookwanderers

A magical adventure to delight the imagination. A curl-up-on-the-sofa debut from a uniquely talented author.

Eleven year-old Tilly has lived above her grandparents’ bookshop ever since her mother disappeared shortly after she was born. Like the rest of her family, Tilly loves nothing more than to escape into the pages of her favourite stories.

One day Tilly realises that classic children’s characters are appearing in the shop through the magic of `book wandering’ – crossing over from the page into real life.

With the help of Anne of Green Gables and Alice in Wonderland. Tilly is determined to solve the mystery of what happened to her mother all those years ago, so she bravely steps into the unknown, unsure of what adventure lies ahead and what dangers she may face.

“But we’re all anomalies in one way or another – it’s what makes being alive beautiful. We’re more than neat plot devices; we’re contradictory and confusing, and it’s wonderful.”

Matilda ‘Tilly’ Pages lives with her grandma and grandpa who own a cosy bookstore called Pages & Co. Naturally, Tilly has grown up as a proud bibliophile and often prefers fictional characters to real people and longs for an adventure beyond her mundane life. It doesn’t take long for Tilly’s wish to come true, when characters from her favourite books start popping up in the bookstore and open Tilly’s eyes to the world of all things Bookwandering.

When I read Matilda ”flopped dramatically into a chair” and ”flung her head theatrically” – it was the moment I knew I was going to enjoy this book and it’s protagonist, and that was only page one. An utter delight and true pleasure to read. Truly, I had a smile plastered on my face throughout reading this. I wasn’t even 50 pages into it and I knew this was a book I’ll happily reread again in future.

We follow eleven year old Tilly, who’s on her school holidays and feeling dejected after her closest friend has moved on to a new friend group, leaving Tilly behind. As much as Tilly’s grandparents try to keep her spirits raised, they remind her of her orphaned origins without her mother or father around to love and support her. It’s no surprise Tilly turns to reading to find solace – being a bookworm is in her blood – although it soon becomes clear Tilly’s not just a bookworm, but a bookwanderer: a reader who can travel into stories and bring characters to life. And we’re off on an adventure! Along with Anne of Green Gables, Alice of Wonderland and Tilly’s neighbour Oskar, we journey to Avonlea, Wonderland, the high seas and ultimately discover friendship and a palpable plot twist.

Pages & Co. Tilly and the Bookwanderers is a children’s story that doesn’t leave you wanting for anything other than the next instalment. Even though I would say the book lost a little momentum by the middle of the story, it picked up again toward the end and ends setting up the sequel and tonnes of potential bookwandering stories.

If you or your kids love the adventures of books and classics like Alice in Wonderland, or even the Night At the Museum films and the TV show Once Upon A Time, then this will be right up your alley. It’s sheer wonder and the definition of cosy, happy reading. I can’t recommend it enough!

Also, I have to mention how beautiful the book is. I have the hardcover and the design is so eye catching. The book has a variety of lovely illustrations and fonts that effectively liven up the reading experience, which I imagine will be beneficial for kids engagement. Big well done to the publishers for the book’s internal and external design, it makes the book all the more enchanting.

Buy It Now

Pages & Co. Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James
Genre: children’s fiction, middlegrade, fantasy, adventure.

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