“Be brave, be curious, be kind.”
I have the most wonderful friends. And those I talk to the most, I’ve never even met in person. There’s a group of us (most of whom now write for the blog we built together, Novel Notions) who talk almost every single day. For the past three years, we’ve sent each other birthday presents and Secret Santa gifts for Christmas. Almost always books, of course. We’ve been there for each other through both extreme hardship and profound joy. Even though I can’t give them a physical shoulder to cry on because of the distance, I know they’re always there for me, and I’m certain they feel the same about me. We love each other, and we share a common passion, the combination of which spawned our wonderful blog. Book friends are the best friends.
“I love thinking about other people reading the books I love, or why someone gave that book as a present – those names and messages are like tiny moments of time travel linking readers from different eras and families and even countries.”
What does that have to do with this book, you might ask? The answer is twofold. First, my book twin (and member of the aforementioned group) saw this book and thought of me, and decided to send it to me as a surprise. She was absolutely spot on, and I loved every page. Second, this is a book about the power of relationships, even those you develop with fictional characters. Can you imagine walking into your favorite room to find your favorite literary character waiting for you in the flesh instead of between the pages of their book? That’s exactly what happens to Matilda Pages, Tilly for short, in the combination home and bookshop where she lives with her grandparents. From there, Tilly embarks on marvelous adventures both inside and outside the pages of books.
“Books can change minds and change worlds, open doors and open minds, and plant seeds that can grow into magical or even terrifying things. Stories are things to be loved and respected at the same time; never underestimate the power of them. It’s why books are often casualties of censorship; those who ban or burn books are those who are scared of what can be found in their pages.”
The thought of bookwandering, as it’s termed in this book, is one that I’m sure has been a daydream of tens of thousands of readers since the creation of the written word. Imagine being able to walk within the pages of your favorite stories, or get to know your favorite characters. It’s a captivating concept, one that has been explored more frequently of late across genres from middle grade to YA to adult fantasy. I enjoyed learning about the rules of bookwandering in this little novel almost as much as I enjoyed seeing how Tilly thwarted those rules, often accidentally. Something that made this book even more special for me is that Tilly and I share a favorite fictional character: Anne of Green Gables. Anne is precocious and imaginative and kind, and I would love to be friends with her, even as an adult. Tilly’s other favorite character, Alice from Wonderland, in not among my favorites, but her addition made the story more interesting. Tilly also makes a friend in reality over the course of the story, in the form of Oskar, and has a beautiful relationship with her grandparents, who are also bookwanderers.
“The books we love when we’re growing up shape us in a special way… The characters in the books we read help up decide who we want to be.”
I don’t want to get into any of the plot details of this story, as I think that would diminish its charm. I will say, however, that you should absolutely gift this to any middle grader in your life who is obsessed with books, or even an adult reader like myself who has never really grown up and is completely infatuated by the written word. Besides being a fun story in its own right, this novel is made even more lovely by being a book about books. Books about books are one of my favorite things in the world, and have a cozy charm rarely found in their less bookish literary counterparts. I would like to thank TS again for giving me such a wonderful and unexpected gift. It’s something I’ll treasure!
“Our stories are how we will be remembered – so we’ve got to make sure they are worth telling.”
You can purchase a copy of the book here, with free shipping worldwide!