Title: Tilly and the Bookwanderers
Author: Anna James
Audience: Middle Grade
Taken from Goodreads
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.
I was excited about diving into Tilly and the Bookwanderers, as it is all about experiencing books and bringing your favourite fictional characters to life. As readers, I am sure that is something we would all love to do.
All the characters in Tilly and the Bookwanderers were terrific; they all had distinct personalities and fitted into the story well. Tilly was a brilliant main protagonist; you could see how different literary characters throughout the ages had influenced her personality. This was particularly clear when she met both Anne from Anne of Green Gables and Alice from Alice in Wonderland. Anna James did such a wonderful job a portraying Anne and Alice, and it felt as if you were reading their original books, which I loved. Of the other characters, I particularly liked Jack, the baker from the bookshop cafe, as I want to try some of his creations, especially as he made honey cake pops from The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton (which was my favourite book from childhood). It was all these small bookish things that made Tilly and the Bookwanderers feel even more magical.
Tilly and the Bookwanderers is set between Pages & Co, Tilly’s grandparent’s bookshop and different books. Anna James does a fantastic job at describing Pages & Co, making it a bookshop that I would love to visit. It has all the cosy reading vibes that you could ever want. As mentioned earlier with Anne and Alice, Anna James really captures the essence of the story that Tilly goes to visit, and you feel as if you are reading a bonus entry into the original story. The settings are described so perfectly and feel authentic.
Throughout the book, I did start to create a game with myself as to who the characters were before Tilly learnt of them. As in the beginning, Tilly listens to a conversation between her nan and mysterious woman, where the woman mentions a man with poor manners, and that her mother would probably forgive the man because he was rich. I will leave you to guess who the mysterious woman was.
My only real issue with Tilly and the Bookwanderers was that I would have loved a greater focus on the ending. The ending did feel a little bit rushed to me. While it did set up the next book in the series, it all felt a little bit easy for Tilly to solve, especially for someone who had only been bookwandering for a couple of days. But I feel like this ending is only the beginning of a long overall storyline, which makes me excited to see what is going to happen next.
I would highly recommend Tilly and the Bookwanderers to anyone who loves books, it is a really heartwarming journey back into the books of childhood and the wonder of discovering reading.
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