Published by: HarperCollins, September 2022
Hooray! The fifth instalment of the bookwandering series, Pages & Co, has arrived and this beautiful hardback edition jumped straight to the top of my 'to be read' pile. After being late to the series- the first three books having being published before I even heard of it - these stories have lodged themselves as firmly into my heart as The Faraway Tree series did when I was a child.
Now in charge of the Quip, Milo and his new travelling companion, Alessia, seek out The Botanist, in the hope they can find the cure to awaken Milo's uncle, Horatio, from his cursed sleep. But when they arrive at the Treehouse Library, it becomes clear that finding the ingredients for the cure will be more challenging than they thought. It's not long before they are bookwandering into famous lands and meeting well-known characters. But, with The Alchemist growing impatient,they may have to abandon their quest to help Tilly and her family back at Pages & Co.
Aside from the fact that Anna James' incredible imagination takes us on an epic fantasy adventure into the world of story, there is something extra-special about this concept that I can't quite put my finger on. Is it that it's set in a bookshop full of cosy nooks and hot chocolates or is it the nostalgia of being able to literally walk into some favourite childhood classics? It's almost definitely both, although the characters themselves create an extraordinary warmth and the same fuzzy feeling I felt reading characters of the past.
What's brilliant for young readers is that, although they themselves might not be familiar with the classic stories that are featured in Pages & Co, they are introduced to them in such a fresh and appealing way that it's almost impossible not to become interested, even excited, about them. In book two, there's a gorgeous nod to fairytales and, without giving away too many spoilers, book five features a famous vagabond thief, a Yorkshire secret and a well-known wizard. It promotes a love of reading and the pure joy of books - I mean who wouldn't want to wander into a book full of their favourite characters and adventures.
Despite allowing us to spend time with stories of the past, however, the lengths that Anna James has gone to in order to create an original story in its own right is incredible. My initial delight at finding a series that would involve characters wandering into other famous stories and having adventures was soon turned on its head when it became obvious that there was going to be far more to the series than that. With a botanist, an alchemist, a train that runs on imagination, secretive relatives, curses, ultimatums and library treehouses, this plot just keeps on giving, taking us onto a journey into the very depths of story and evoking all the feelings I felt as a child reader. I just can't wait for the next instalment...
If you'd like to know more, why not check out our reviews of other books in the series:
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