This debut is the first in a new series about an English girl with a special ability.
Matilda Pages’ mother disappeared without a trace when she was a baby, and her father died before she was born. The 11-year-old bibliophile has been raised by her maternal grandparents, proprietors of Pages & Co., a cozy north London bookshop. The school holidays stretch out before her, and Tilly wants some excitement, but, as she laments, “No one has proper adventures in real life.” Tilly gets the adventure of a lifetime when Anne Shirley and Alice, her favorite book characters, appear in the shop. Visits to Avonlea and the famously wacky Wonderland tea party lead Tilly to the truth: She comes from a family of bookwanderers, people who use the “natural magic of books” to travel inside works of literature and bring characters into the real world. Inquisitive and intelligent, Tilly is exceptional among bookwanderers: Some of the rules don’t apply to her, but why? Tilly’s literary adventures thrill, and Anne’s characterization in particular is pleasingly congruent with the original character. Escobar’s literary-themed silhouettes, reminiscent of Arthur Rackham’s, add whimsical flourishes, although the few full-page illustrations do little. Its premise makes it an obvious, wonderful choice for book-loving readers who aren’t quite ready for Inkheart’s heft. Characters default to white.
A loving testament to the powerful magic of books and imagination. (Fantasy. 8-12)