WishYouWas – Alexandra Page

Published By: Bloomsbury Children
Pages: 288
Released On: 30/09/2021

It’s 1952 in smog-shrouded London. Christmas might be fast approaching, but with her mum away and Uncle Frank busy running the post office, Penny Black is lonelier than ever.

All that changes when Penny discovers a small, fluffy, funny, springy and – most importantly – talking creature in the post office one night, trying to make off with a letter. 

But Wishyouwas is no thief. He’s a Sorter, and he soon introduces Penny to a fascinating secret world hidden in the tunnels underneath the city’s streets. Self-appointed guardians of lost mail, the Sorters have dedicated their lives to rescuing letters that have gone astray and making sure they get delivered to their rightful owners.

Penny is determined to protect the Sorters, but how long will she be able to keep them safe with Stanley Scrawl, the sinister Royal Mail Rat Catcher, on the prowl? Can Penny save the Sorters and deliver a joyful Christmas?

*****

I identify as a 29 year old, but according to this book, I’m actually a 7-11 year old. It is simply fabulous for all ages.

It isn’t necessarily a Christmas book in the traditional sense. It is set around that period but it could quite easily have been set any other time. But I think it’s full of all the things that make the festive season great: fun, adventure, new friends, old friends, family, community and love.

Penny Neville-Lee provides the illustrations. There’s not many, one or two per chapter, but what is there are so detailed and gorgeous, they really capture the individual characteristics of each lost-letter guardian.

Whilst I assume there is no such thing as sorters and deliverers and whatnot living underground, I didn’t know that the Royal Mail underground train service was a thing, from 1927-2003, almost 80 years. It makes sense and is fascinating, it’s just a shame it’s not yet known, but I think a visit to the museum is in order.

It’s a really delightful little book and just perfect for the children in your family. There is 1 girl out of 7 children in my family, and at 9 years old I think she would really enjoy this.

It’s not too difficult for children to read, meaning they can read it and understand it for themselves, but it doesn’t patronise or talk down. Which is why, I think, it appeals to older children and grown ups too.

Yes, I love a good thriller or crime novel, murder mystery or romance, but sometimes I just want to curl up and read about a cute little furry creature and the hope that he has.

I suppose if I had to be critical of something, I’d say that everything was concluded very quickly and neatly and there wasn’t much resistance. But to be fair, that’s a view coming from a naturally pessimistic adult. For children, I think it is paced perfectly.

I have recently seen there is a sequel planned, and whilst a lot of adults look down on other adults who read kids books, I am not embarrassed to say I will definitely be adding it to my shelf.

I could definitely see it becoming a future classic bedtime read during dark wintery evenings. A lovely debut.

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