The book of wondrous possibilities by Deborah Abela

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This charming tale begins with a bang when 11-year-old Lisette bursts into the bookshop Arlo is minding. She manages to hide while a menacing monster of a man called Silas scours the place for her. But once Lisette is safe, she presents a parcel to Arlo. He recognizes that it is from his mother who died a year ago because of a car accident. The parcel contains an extremely old, rare book called a grimoire and mysteriously one of the stories within was written by Arlo’s mother. More mysteriously it seems the story is mirroring events that start to take place in the lives of Arlo and Lisette. Over the past year Arlo has been heartbroken and has chosen to live a very quiet life with his kind uncle, who owns the bookshop. His only companion is a smart brave mouse called Herbert. Silas continues his pursuit of Lisette and when she is kidnapped Arlo needs to control his fearfulness in order to help his new friend. What’s more Lisette believes her grandmother died as a result of being hounded by a property developer, Marcellus, to vacate her bookshop. Marcellus is employing Silas to get hold of the grimoire. This all makes for an exciting page turning story. 

A lot of things happen in this novel but it is delightful and easy to follow. This is due in part to a lot of dialogue and just the right balance of suspense and magic. Abela enticingly teases the reader into believing that Arlo might actually be experiencing what is happening in his story. Arlo and Lisette are both smart with wonderful hearts and his Uncle Avery and friend Gertrude are comically eccentric. It reminded me of the Eerie-on-Sea series or Jaclyn Moriarty’s Kingdoms and Empires series. It would be a great read-aloud book for children from 8 to 12 years old. Abela wrote it as “a love letter to books, book sellers, librarians and reading” and it most certainly is that.

Themes: Fear, Bullying, Family, Friendship, Love.

Jo Marshall