cover image The Bookwanderers (Pages and Co. #1)

The Bookwanderers (Pages and Co. #1)

Anna James, illus. by Paola Escobar. Philomel, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-9848-3712-7

Tilly, 11, has lived with her grandparents in their London bookstore, Pages and Co., since her mother’s mysterious disappearance shortly after Tilly’s birth. Tilly struggles to make friends but finally begins to connect with her neighbor Oskar. After she discovers her mother’s box of favorite books, two of Tilly’s favorite characters, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne and Lewis Carroll’s Alice, show up at the shop, and Tilly realizes that she is a bookwanderer: someone who “reads a bit harder than most people” and can be transported inside the story. Together, Tilly and Oskar learn the complicated rules of bookwandering from Tilly’s grandparents and the staff of the Underlibrary, which exists beneath the British Museum. One employee, Enoch Chalk, follows Tilly through various books, and his creepy ways raise her suspicions. As she and Oskar investigate the truth about Chalk, they uncover more about Tilly’s mother, as well as the dangers and magic of bookwandering. Tilly’s friendship struggles and love of reading ground James’s imaginative debut and, together with satisfying twists and a well-constructed bookwanderer’s mythology, create an affectionate ode to books and book lovers. Ages 8–12. [em](Sept.) [/em]