Welcome to the latest installment of Brightly’s Book Club for Kids, where we provide you with engaging books and book-inspired activities young readers can enjoy together. This month’s pick, Pages & Co.: The Bookwanders, appeals to readers who love books and feel a kinship with favorite fictional characters. Tilly Pages spends all her free time in her grandparents’ bookshop, Pages & Co. When Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Anne from Anne of Green Gables show up in the store and bring her into their stories, Tilly learns that she is a bookwanderer — a person who can talk to book characters and enter into their stories. But there are rules and dangers to bookwandering. There’s also the problem of her missing mother and a sinister man who is stalking her.
About the Book
Best For: Kids ages 8 to 12.
You’ll Like It If You Like: Good books, cozy bookstores, fictional friends, and imaginative stories filled with mystery and adventure.
Major Themes: Love of books, power of reading, imagination, family, friendship, and bravery.
What It’s About: Tilly Pages is a lonely girl who spends all her time in her grandparents’ bookshop, Pages & Co., with her beloved book friends. But when Alice from Wonderland and Anne of Green Gables appear at the bookshop and invite her into their stories, Tilly learns that she and her neighbor Oskar are bookwanderers, people who can talk to book characters and enter into their books.
Her granddad takes Tilly and Oskar to the secretive Underlibrary to learn the rules of bookwandering; strict rules meant to prevent wanderers from getting trapped inside a fictional world. Tilly uses this knowledge to enter her mom’s favorite book, A Little Princess, hoping to find a clue about her missing mom’s disappearance.
But in the story worlds, Tilly is stalked by a sinister underlibrarian named Enoch Chalk. Suspicious, Tilly breaks into Chalk’s office and finds a secret book that begins to unravel the mystery of what happened to her mother. Unfortunately, her investigation might just mean Tilly and her mom become trapped in a book forever.
Why We Picked It: We love sharing books about books. We think you’ll love this charming story about a clever girl who loves to read, lives in a bookshop, and finds adventure in the worlds of stories. This book is a bibliophile’s dream world!
Introduce or refresh your children’s knowledge about the classic books in which the characters travel. These books include Anne of Green Gables, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Treasure Island, and A Little Princess.
- What do you think about this quote from the book? “Sometimes a person who becomes a friend is the least likely person you’d expect. Friends should bring out the best in you, not be the same as you.” Why do you agree or disagree with this?
- Which book does Tilly enter first? What did she do there?
- Which book and setting would you choose if you were a bookwanderer? What would be the worst book to get stuck in?
- Tilly’s favorite book character is Anne Shirley. Which fictional character is your favorite?
- Why don’t some of the bookwandering rules apply to Tilly?
- Why don’t Tilly’s grandparents talk about her mom? How does that make Tilly feel?
- Did you suspect Enoch Chalk was responsible for Tilly’s mom’s disappearance? What clues did the author give you about his involvement?
- What could have happened at Alice’s tea party if Alice hadn’t returned Tilly home? What about if she and Oskar hadn’t found a way home from Treasure Island?
- “Be brave, be curious, be kind,” is Tilly’s family’s motto. How is she brave, curious, and kind?
- Tilly loves to reread favorite books. Do you have a favorite book that you have reread or want to reread in the future?
1. arduous | not easy : hard to do or make
“Now, other than your particularly arduous workload, what else do you have planned for the week?”
2. bedraggled | limp, wet, or dirty from or as if from rain or mud
Rain meant quiet days in the shop as people stayed inside with only the odd group of bedraggled readers drying out in the café area.
3. binge | a short period of time when you do too much of something
I haven’t the foggiest what book I was reading, but your mum went on a real classics binge while she was pregnant, nostalgic for her own childhood, I suppose.
4. casual | showing or feeling little concern : NONCHALANT
She tried to wander over casually.
5. collate | to gather together information from different sources in order to study it carefully
In the pages were a collection of photos her grandparents had let her collate that all featured her mum.
6. contemplate | to think about deeply and carefully
Tilly contemplated the question.
7. contrary | unwilling to accept control or advice
She had explored wonderlands and secret gardens with girls curious and contrary.
8. criterion | something that is used as a reason for making a judgment or decision
“Someone who’s adventurous, and clever, and brave, and funny…” Tilly said, checking her criteria off on her fingers.
9. disdain | a feeling of dislike for someone or something considered not good enough
“I can’t find the vanilla essence!” Jack shouted, making two people sitting drinking coffee eye him warily and Alice the cat raise her head in disdain from the cushioned seat she had claimed for the morning.
10. dyslexia | a learning disability in which a person usually has a problem in reading, spelling, and writing
“Oskar’s dyslexic,” Mary said, coming up behind them.
Find more vocabulary lists from Pages & Co.: The Bookwanderers at Merriam-Webster.
Activities to Dive Deeper Into Pages & Co.: The Bookwanderers
Make Book-Themed Food
The bookshop baker made pop cakes for Enid Blyton books and paw print brownies for We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Pick one of these foods to make.
- Make brownies using a recipe or from a mix. Then, make a small paw-print template out of card stock. Hold the template over each brownie and shake some powdered sugar through a sieve on top of each brownie. Read We’re Going on a Bear Hunt while you eat.
- Use any recipe you find online or in a cookbook. As you eat, read an Enid Blyton book such as a title from The Famous Five series.
Tilly’s grandad says that writing your name in a book is “about creating a record of who’s read and loved each book.” Make your own bookplates for your most beloved books. Use office labels and stamps to make you own bookplates or print out a free template.
Read Outside Your Comfort Zone
Browse through the Brightly website or your library to find three book titles that are different than anything you usually read. Make it a goal to read three new kinds of books within a set time frame. Use these reading challenge prompts to help!
Host an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Tea Party
Organize a tea party during or after your book club discussion. Decorate with a checkered tablecloth, playing cards, keys, mismatched teapots, and mismatched teacups and saucers. Offer hot water in the teapots, different kinds of tea, cream, and sugar. Serve cupcakes and cookies. Find more Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland party ideas here and here.
Illustrate a Quote from the Book
Write this quote on a large piece of poster board. Decorate it with paint, colored pencils, stamps, stickers, or any other artistic materials.
“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 among their pages.”
What to Read Next
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