[Ad – Gifted. I won an advanced proof of Pages & Co at YALC in 2018 however at the time was unable to read it. As I have now read it I wish to write a review because I am obsessed! It’s safe to say that all views are certainly my own!]
Tilly and the Bookwanders By Anna James
Format: Proof copy – Paperback
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s
Release Date: 18th September 2018
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.
The debut novel by Anna James and the first in her Pages & Co series is an absolute delight to behold and I am gutted that I didn’t get around to reading it sooner. We are first introduced to Tilly at the beginning of the school holidays as she returns home to her Grandparents and their bookshop which is coincidently known as Pages & Co too. Tilly’s mother disappeared years before and she has no information about her father at all, however, Tilly appears quite comfortable in the bookshop with her Grandparents and books, that is until mysterious people who look and sound remarkably similar to characters in books begin to appear.
As I have mentioned in my disclaimer, I was lucky enough to win an early proof copy of this book back at YALC 2018 and at the time I was incredibly excited to dive right in. However, I got fifty pages in and had to stop and that wasn’t because it was bad or anything but because it hurt. Tilly has a remarkable and wonderful relationship with her Grandparents and an incredibly close bond with them both – something which I adore seeing in all types of literature and not just middle-grade.
Which was why it was hard for me at the time because I wasn’t in a great place with my Grandparents at the time and now since then my Nan passed away and my Grandfather became seriously ill during a period of time when we no longer spoke. Perhaps you are wondering why I’m including this scrap of information about my life in a book review but it’s relevant – I promise – because reading Pages & Co now a year on reminded me how wonderful it was to be a child with an incredibly close relationship with your grandparents – it was certainly heartwarming, to say the least.
“Be Brave, Be Curious, Be Kind.”
As for the plot, I think it’s safe to say whatever our age we have all imagined having our favourite characters pop up from the page or often when reading we imagine ourself simply falling into the pages themselves! This was why I loved how Anna James literally took this concept into the heart of her novel and why I loved seeing Tilly interact with so many familiar characters from literature. I particularly loved the interactions between Alice and Anne of Green Gables and Tilly too. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but wonder how I would react if some of my favourite fictional characters suddenly appeared around me – I certainly wouldn’t complain!
At first, Tilly thinks perhaps she is imagining things, even when her best friend Oskar appears sceptical – it isn’t t until he too is brought in between the pages that Tilly realises this is definitely all happening and it isn’t an Alice in Wonderland moment! However, book wandering turns out not to be all fun and games – especially when the mysterious Mr Enoch Chalk begins to make frequent appearances wherever Tilly appears in a book!
Overall, I have to say that Tilly and the Bookwanders is an utterly delightful debut which I can find no fault in at all. With magical worlds of fiction, an engaging plot and a cast of marvellous characters – I certainly have a soft spot for both Tilly, her grandfather and Amelia – this is a book I fell in love with. Absolutely enchanting even as I was reading I felt as if at any moment I would suddenly fall into the pages themselves – or perhaps that is just wishful thinking!
Very Important P.S – The Sequel of Tilly and the Bookwanders – Tilly and the Lost Fairytales is being released in only a month on September 19th 2019 and I cannot wait to meet with Tilly and go on another adventure.
Have you read Tilly and the Bookwanders? What did you think and what books do you think you’d like to wander into?