Ever wondered what happens to all those letters that go missing in the mail? I’ll let you into a secret, they’re not really lost, they’re in the hands of some very clever creatures who are just trying to figure out where they need to go.
London, 1952, Christmas is fast approaching and the streets are thick with smog. With her mum, an airmail pilot, stuck in France, Penny Black is staying with her busy postmaster uncle. It’s a fairly boring and lonely existence in the post office until Penny spots a surprise visitor late one night.
At first, it looks like a rat trying to steal a letter. But Wishyouwas is no ordinary street rat, he’s a cute, talking creature with a very important job: ‘Sorter - Second Class’. And he’s not the only one. Beneath the streets of London live a secret Bureau of sorters, gatherers and deliverers whose mission it is to find lost letters and to reunite them with the intended recipients.
When Penny learns that Wishyouwas and his friends are in danger, she is determined to protect them. But with Stanley Crawl, renowned rat catcher, and his dog, Ripper, on the prowl, will Penny be able to protect her new friends and make sure the Christmas post is safely delivered…
Already being touted as a future classic, this is one of those timeless, magical and feel-good stories that I just know I’ll be settling down and snuggling up with every winter. With plenty of ‘The Borrowers’ vibes, Wishyouwas: The Guardian of Lost Letters is an endearing and heart-warming read that captivated me from first page to last. Perfectly written with exceptional story-telling, Alexandra Page delivers an edge-of-the-seat adventure full of friendship, bravery, loyalty, danger and doing the right thing.
From the moment Penny Black discovers Wishyouwas, who is quick to point out that he is most definitely not a rat - ‘I is NOT a rat! I is a Sorter. Second Class’ -, I was absorbed into this thrilling adventure that hops between the smog-filled streets of London and a secret underground world. It is this secret underground world where lost letters are ‘solved’ by an efficient team of hard-working creatures who make use of things that humans discard - shoe boxes are turned into hospital beds, paper clips serve as lock picks and letter openers are used as weapons. Overseen by the hierarchy of Dearsir and Dearmadam, the ‘Guardians of lost letters’ are a brilliant bunch of endearing personalities and unforgettable characters; Thiswayup, Fragile, Handlewithcare, Withlove, Felicitations and Stampduty are just some of their brilliant post-themed names.
I was with Penny and Wishyouwas every step of the way. Leaping into post boxes, hiding out in mail trolleys, desperately trying to stay out of the clutches of Stanley Scrawl and hoping that Penny could save the Royal Mail’s secret postal service. There are enough tense and perilous moments to keep pulses racing but it is the heart-warming scenes that unfold between kind-hearted Penny and the delightfully grammatically-challenged Wishyouwas that I absolutely loved.
The most adorable read of the year is only made more charming by Penny Neville-Lee’s beautiful illustrations that further immerse readers into the story and the most richly imagined of underground worlds. There’s nothing second class about Alexandra Page’s debut. This is ‘special delivery’ from first page to last!
With huge thanks to Bloomsbury for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 9+.