So You Want to Build a Library – Lindsay Leslie

Illustrations – Aviel Basil

I’ve loved libraries for as long as I can remember. They provide access to books that you’re allowed to take home with you for free (!), whose pages allow you to explore infinite worlds, learn and escape from reality for a while. Any building whose primary purpose is to help facilitate reading is already a magical place, so what could possibly make it better? If a child had the opportunity to build the library of their dreams.

One young reader shows us how they would go about creating the “most MIRACULOUS library ever!” From the location to the types of books that would fill the shelves and the inclusion of pretty much everything you’d need so you’ll never have to leave, including a sundae bar and trampolines, this book encourages you to let your imagination go wild.

I loved the dragons and pie-baking snail but my favourite illustrations included the roller-skating sloth, who seemed to be having the time of their life.

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Thank you so much to NetGalley and Capstone Editions, an imprint of Capstone, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

There is no better place in the world than a library. Especially a library that kids create! A million stories high? Sure. Bathtubs? Absolutely. A full-service sundae bar? Of course. Everything is possible in this library – just like in books! 

We Are Inevitable – Gayle Forman

Spoilers Ahead! (marked in purple)

“Twenty-six letters and some punctuation marks and you have infinite words in infinite worlds.”

The author calls this book a “love letter to books, and to booksellers” and there are so many bookish delights:

📖 I got to read about other people who love books as much as I do.

📖 The chapter headings are book titles! Why didn’t I think of that?! [Must steal borrow this idea if I ever write a book…]

📖 Bookish references in abundance! Books within books are one of my top five favourite bookish things. Book titles are casually scattered throughout the book. Storylines of well known books are mentioned. Movies that began their lives as books are discussed (the book was better).

“Seriously? It was also a book first?”

“Seriously.”

“Are all movies books first?”

“Just the best ones.”

If you’re like me and likely to panic around the halfway point when you wish you’d been making a list of all of the books that have been mentioned, don’t worry; there’s a bibliography at the end.

📖 Independent bookstores! We get to hang out in not one, but two of them! With booksellers who desperately love books and about making sure the book the reader needs finds its way to them.

“Tell me: What’s the last book you read that you loved?”

📖 The main bookstore has genres grouped together in a way that makes so much sense.

I could happily spend my entire review talking about the books, bookstores and booksellers but there’s more to this book than books. We also come face to face with some pretty difficult topics. Multiple characters are dealing with addiction, either their own or a loved one’s. Likewise, multiple characters are grieving. Chad, my favourite character, is living with a spinal cord injury.

I adore Chad, although I expect I wouldn’t have been a huge fan of him before his accident. He’s had some pretty impressive post traumatic growth and his attitude is amazing. I could have done without him saying “dawg” and “son” all the time but I guess no one’s perfect.

Speaking of not being perfect, Aaron (our main character) is definitely a work in progress. I really didn’t like him at all for a good portion of the book, during which he basically treats everyone around him like garbage. He did begin to make more sense to me as I got to know him but until then, ugh!

I loved Aaron’s father, Ira, because he loves books so much. The fact that he’s still so passionate about them, despite grief, anxiety and depression, made me love him even more. He truly comes alive when he talks books and that resonated with me.

I liked the Lumberjacks, getting to know Ike the best. He came up with my favourite line (pardon his French):

“Fudge a duck on a hot sidewalk!”

You might be interested in this book because of the romance, which is pretty insta, but it’s not the main focus of the book. Aaron, a young man who doesn’t like music, falls for a young woman who’s in a band.

Every time I see her, I feel that thing: the inevitable.

The thing is: I don’t trust the inevitable.

I mean, what has inevitable done for me?

Ruined my life is what.

I was ready to love Hannah but never formed an emotional connection with her. Her purpose seemed to be to act as a mirror for Aaron. I didn’t feel like I got to know Hannah that well and her bandmates are even more of a mystery to me. I really wanted to find out more about Jax, especially when it looked as though they were going to become more integral to the story, but pretty much all I know for sure about them is their pronouns (they/them).

A few things didn’t make sense to me. If Aaron’s brother’s addiction cost their family so much (and right now I’m only talking about the cost to their finances), how did he ever manage to collect such an extensive collection of rare vinyls? Wouldn’t he have spent that money on drugs? Even if he did manage to accumulate so many, in the grips of addiction, wouldn’t he have sold them? I know he gave them to Aaron but that only explains the final five months of his life.

Also, early in the story we learn that Ike’s wife’s fibromyalgia symptoms stopped her from being able to come to the bookstore years ago. Towards the end of the book she’s at the bookstore several times. It is mentioned once that she has a walker but it didn’t ring true to me. If she‘s well enough to be at the bookstore now, wouldn’t she have already been there before the renovations began?

“Are the answers to all life’s questions in books?”

“Of course,” he says. “That’s what makes them miracles.”

Content warnings include mention of addiction, disability, grief, mental health and suicidal ideation.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Children’s Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster UK, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

‘I got this whole-body feeling … it was like a message from future me to present me, telling me that in some way we weren’t just bound to happen, that we had, in some sense, already happened. It felt … inevitable.’

So far, the inevitable hasn’t worked out so well for Aaron Stein. While his friends have gone to college and moved on with their lives, Aaron’s been left behind in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, running a failing bookshop with his dad, Ira. What he needs is a lucky break, the good kind of inevitable.

And then he meets Hannah. Incredible Hannah – magical, musical, brave and clever. Could she be the answer? And could they – their relationship, their meeting – possibly be the inevitable Aaron’s been waiting for?

Boo Loves Books – Kaye Baillie

Illustrations – Tracie Grimwood

‘Every place is a place to read books,’ said Miss Spinelli.

Phoebe is a reluctant reader and is anxious about making mistakes when she reads aloud. When her teacher tells the class they will not be reading at school tomorrow, Phoebe is relieved – until she finds out they will be reading somewhere else instead.

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Magic happens when this young girl who is scared of reading meets Big Boo, a dog who is so used to people leaving him that he doesn’t expect anyone to stay.

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It’s such a lovely story but, because I could easily imagine Big Boo not trusting that any human will stay with him, I’ve found myself tearing up each time I’ve read this book. I loved that by accepting each other as they are, Phoebe and Big Boo are able to face and ultimately overcome their fears.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Phoebe is nervous about reading. She is embarrassed that she will say things wrong, so she just doesn’t read at all. When Miss Spinelli’s class goes on a field trip to the animal shelter to practice reading there, Phoebe is paired with Big Boo, who is scared of her like she’s scared of reading. When she starts reading, Big Boo and Phoebe warm up to each other and the two turn their fears into a positive experience.

Unwritten #2: Rewritten – Tara Gilboy

“Writing has brought me so much trouble.”

In the six months since they returned to the real world, Gracie and some other characters from Bondoff, their storybook world, have been living with Gertrude Winters, the story’s author. They’re all in hiding from the story’s villain, Cassandra. Cassandra still has the Vademecum, a magical book that can generate portals between the real world and the world of the author’s imagination.

Gracie is struggling to distance herself from the character Gertrude created for her. This isn’t easy when everyone remembers what happened while they were in Bondoff.

She wished she didn’t have to keep being reminded of the past.

Gracie meets siblings Mina and Bryant when she travels to Blackwood Hall. Their world is nothing like Gracie’s storybook dimension; they are characters in a “feminist gothic horror novel”.

“Don’t read that one. It’s too scary for children.”

Rewritten tackles fractured mother-daughter relationships, the difficulty of forgiveness and the struggle to rewrite our stories. A number of themes from the first book continue to play out here. Running through both books is the difficulty of breaking out of roles that others place upon you. A couple of characters battle both the urge to run away from the past and the desire to confront it.

The lines between good and evil remain somewhat fuzzy. The villains aren’t always immediately obvious and their actions aren’t always intended to have dastardly consequences. One character who has been written as a villain is desperately trying to prove to themselves and those around them that that’s not who they are. Even those who appear to be heroes can have selfish motivations and make questionable choices.

Gracie, who I loved without reservation in Unwritten, started to annoy me when her recaps and ruminations became repetitive. I didn’t always agree with the decisions she made in this book but I have to give Gracie credit for her imaginative decorating choices. Her bedroom ceiling features quotes from books in glow in the dark paint! Why didn’t I think of that?!

While you could read Unwritten and Rewritten as standalones, I’d recommend reading them in order. Given how this story ends I’m definitely expecting this series to become a trilogy. I haven’t had enough page time with Cassandra yet and am crossing my fingers that she’ll wind up with a happy ending. Yes, I know she’s supposed to be the villain so technically she shouldn’t get one, but I’m still holding out hope. I’m also looking forward to Walter being given the opportunity to shine.

It was Jomike Tejido’s cover illustration that originally drew me to Unwritten and, even though I was unaware a sequel was in the works, as soon as I saw the cover of this book I had no doubt that this was it. Just like last time, I decided I needed to read this book before I knew what it was about.

“You can’t stop reading the stories. It’s your destiny.”

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Jolly Fish Press, an imprint of North Star Editions, for the opportunity to read this book.

Review originally posted on 6 April 2020.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

After learning the truth about her own fairy tale, twelve-year-old Gracie wants nothing more than to move past the terrible things author Gertrude Winters wrote about her and begin a new chapter in the real world. If only things were going as planned. On the run from the evil Queen Cassandra, the characters from Gracie’s story have all been forced to start over, but some of them cannot forget Gracie’s checkered past. 

Even worse, Gracie discovers that as long as Cassandra has her magical book, the Vademecum, Gracie’s story is still being written and none of the characters are safe, including her mum and dad. In a desperate attempt to set things right, Gracie finds herself transported into another one of Gertrude’s stories – but this one is a horror story. Can Gracie face her destiny and the wild beast roaming the night, to rewrite her own story?

Judy Moody #15: Judy Moody, Super Book Whiz – Megan McDonald

Illustrations – Peter H. Reynolds

“The Bookworms rule!”

Judy and her brother Stink are reading up a storm.

They, along with Frank, Sophie and Jessica, are the Virginia Dare Bookworms. The Bookworms are preparing to beat Braintree Academy’s team, the Bloodsucking Fake-Mustache Defenders, to the buzzer when they compete in the Book Quiz Blowout.

The winning team will not just earn bookish bragging rights. The Book Quiz Wizard’s Cup will be proudly displayed in their school’s library. This is no ordinary trophy – it lights up!

She, Judy Moody, was a book quiz whiz. A book wizard. A quizzard!

Judy is frantically practising her speed reading and Stink has his Cape of Good Answers, but when they learn of the other team’s secret weapon the Bookworms’ confidence is shaken.

“Will the Bookworms take a bite out of the Bloodsuckers? Or will the Bloodsuckers sink their fangs into the Bookworms on their way to the finish and take home the trophy?”

I always enjoy Peter H. Reynolds’ illustrations, in particular how expressive the children are.

In preparation for the upcoming competition, the Bookworms talk about oodles of children’s books, both classics and more recent bestsellers. As someone who has always sought out potential future reads in my current read, I was delighted to find a list of everything the Bookworms read at the end of the book. All six pages of them, with titles and authors, in alphabetical order! Some of my own childhood favourites are there as well – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte’s Web and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

N.B. The title of the copy I read is Judy Moody, Super Book Whiz. On Goodreads this is listed as Judy Moody, Book Quiz Whiz.

I won a copy of this book in a giveaway, which was hosted by Tracey at Carpe Librum. Thank you so much to Carpe Librum, Walker Books and HarperCollins Publishers Australia for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Books, books, books! Judy’s got books on the brain as she prepares for a totally RARE trivia competition. Has reading always been this exciting?

Judy Moody is in it to win it. Win the Book Quiz Blowout, that is. Judy and her brother, Stink, are two-fifths of the Virginia Dare Bookworms, and they’ve been reading up a storm to prepare for Saturday’s face-off against second- and third-grade readers from the next town. Judy’s trying out all kinds of tactics, from hanging upside down like Pippi Longstocking to teaching herself to speed read The Princess in Black, and Stink has fashioned a cape of book trivia sticky notes to help him remember all the penguins in Mr. Popper’s Penguins. But when Judy, Stink, and their fellow teammates discover the other group has a fourth-grader (no lie!), they get a bit nervous. Are the Bookworms up to the challenge?

Help Wanted, Must Love Books – Janet Sumner Johnson

Illustrations – Courtney Dawson

Shailey loves reading bedtime stories with her father but since he started his new job he’s been too busy.

Shailey’s solution?

Fire her father and advertise for a new bedtime storyteller.

A host of fairytale characters apply for the job but none of them are quite right. Shailey begins to wonder if she’ll ever be able to find a suitable replacement for her father.

Some of my fondest childhood memories include trips to my local library to find new treasures. I always love books about books! I appreciated the inclusion of fairytale characters as it was a reminder that books are always there for you, even when you feel like you’re alone.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Capstone Editions for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

When Shailey’s dad gets a new job, she loses her bedtime reading partner. She immediately starts interviews to fill the position and is thrilled when her favourite fairy tale characters line up to apply. But Sleeping Beauty can’t stay awake, the Gingerbread Man steals her book, and Snow White brings her whole team. Shailey is running out of options. Is bedtime ruined forever? 

Castle of Books – Alessandro Sanna

A book about books is always going to suck me in. I can’t help it. I’ve been obsessed with books for as long as I can remember, even before I could read myself. I’m so thankful to my mother for introducing me to the magic of reading. Thanks, Mum!

This picture book asks the question:

Why do we need books?

Now if I was going to answer that question you’d likely be reading an essay but Alessandro Sanna has managed to capture the basics in fewer words than I’ve used to write this review so far.

Two children gradually discover some of the wonders that books have to offer.

Would I have wanted to read this book over and over as a child? Probably not. I discovered all of the reasons why I specifically need books as I grew up and I’m still learning new reasons as an adult. As an adult, though, I want to read any book that is essentially a love letter to books.

I’m so happy my library has a copy of this book. I hope it serves as a catalyst for some future bookworms.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Everything starts with a question, like this one: Why do we need books?

In Castle of Books, two children go on a creative journey to discover the answer to the question “Why do we need books?” As they pore over piles and piles of books and discover the incredible worlds and words within, they find lots of answers to this question: to observe, to discover, to imagine, to understand each other, and so much more.

Unwritten – Tara Gilboy

“What if every story ever written is a world in another dimension, waiting for us to find it?”

I was enchanted by this book from the very beginning. It explores the complexities of good and evil, and the power we have to write our own story, regardless of the roles and labels others have placed upon us. There’s action, drama and so much heart.

Gracie may look like a normal 12 year old girl but she’s actually the creation of Gertrude Winters, an author whose unpublished story includes Gracie, her mother and Walter, a boy in her class and an aspiring scientist. Gracie gets story glimmers, glimpses of what her life would have been like in the story, but she doesn’t know the whole story and is frustrated that her mother won’t tell her.

When Gracie learns the story’s author will be coming to her town she can’t resist. Here is the opportunity she’s been waiting for! If only she can speak to the author then she may finally find out who she really is and what her story contains. Things don’t go quite as planned and Gracie, her mother and other characters wind up in the world of the story.

I was captivated the entire time I was reading. I loved the greys in this story; the villains weren’t all bad and the heroes didn’t always make the right choices. I was easily able to imagine the story world and wanted to stay longer to meet more of the people who live there.

While this book works well as a standalone I’m greedily hoping for a sequel and/or spin-off. I’m interested in knowing what happens next for Gracie, Walter and Cassandra in particular. I’d also love to see how Gertrude, the author of Gracie’s story, would react if another of her storybook characters walked into her life and wonder what their story would be about.

I would like to know more about Cassandra, particularly her background and more about her motivations. She was an intriguing character who deserves more page time. I’m not sure if this was intentional or not but Cassandra in this story has some similarities to Cassandra from Greek mythology; although different in so many aspects they were both able to foresee the future.

Jomike Tejido’s cover illustration is absolutely gorgeous and captures the essence of this story so well. I’m not sure I would have read this story’s blurb without that cover sucking me in and I would have missed out on a gem.

Over the course of a single book Tara Gilboy has cemented her place in my ’Have to Read Everything They Ever Write’ Hall of Fame. I can’t wait to read whatever comes next!

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Jolly Fish Press, an imprint of North Star Editions, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Twelve-year-old Gracie Freeman is living a normal life, but she is haunted by the fact that she is actually a character from a story, an unpublished fairy tale she’s never read. When she was a baby, her parents learned that she was supposed to die in the story, and with the help of a magic book, took her out of the story, and into the outside world, where she could be safe.

But Gracie longs to know what the story says about her. Despite her mother’s warnings, Gracie seeks out the story’s author, setting in motion a chain of events that draws herself, her mother, and other former storybook characters back into the forgotten tale. Inside the story, Gracie struggles to navigate the blurred boundary between who she really is and the surprising things the author wrote about her. As the story moves toward its deadly climax, Gracie realises she’ll have to face a dark truth and figure out her own fairy tale ending.

Book Love – Debbie Tung

Book nerds rejoice! Debbie Tung doesn’t just understand us; she’s one of us! Debbie first drew scenes from my life in her debut Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story and now she’s gained access to the bookish part of me which, let’s face it, is pretty much all that’s left once you take away the introvert part.

This is my second (but not final) read of this graphic novel and once again Debbie’s nailed it. Her illustrations perfectly capture the bliss of escaping into a book, the allure of a book sale, the horror of finishing a book and knowing you have to wait a whole year before you can dive into the sequel, and the special kind of magic you experience when your book order arrives. Debbie explores the bookish nightmare of a favourite book being massacred by its film, the horror of price sticker residue and the devastation you feel when someone ruins the end of the book you’re reading.

Debbie talks about how we read, where we read, why we read, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so understood.

Every turn of the page resulted in validation of my bookish experiences.

There was only one page I was glad I couldn’t relate to – when you have to choose between books because you’ve reached the maximum amount you can have on loan at any one time from the library. Thankfully my wonderful librarians consider the loan limit a suggestion, not a strict rule, where I’m involved; just one more reason why my library is the best in the world!

I cannot get enough of this book and only wish it had been several hundred pages longer.

I wonder what part of my life Debbie is going to tackle next … Whatever it is, I need to read it immediately!

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for introducing me to Debbie with Quiet Girl and giving me the opportunity to remember why I need every book she ever publishes.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Bookworms rejoice! These charming comics capture exactly what it feels like to be head-over-heels for hardcovers. And paperbacks! And ebooks! And bookstores! And libraries!

Book Love is a gift book of comics tailor-made for tea-sipping, spine-sniffing, book-hoarding bibliophiles. Debbie Tung’s comics are humorous and instantly recognisable – making readers laugh while precisely conveying the thoughts and habits of book nerds. Book Love is the ideal gift to let a book lover know they’re understood and appreciated.

Matilda – Roald Dahl

Illustrations – Quentin Blake

Matilda is 30! How is that even possible?! Matilda and I became friends 29 years ago and her story remains one of my all time favourites. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve read it over the years but I can say that it gave me hope that circumstances can always improve, taught me that girls can be powerful and resilient, and that it is perfectly okay to be a book nerd, and proven if you’re really lucky you’ll find your very own Mrs Phelps and Miss Honey. I spent my childhood on the lookout for my Miss Honey.

I never had friends that enjoyed reading when I was growing up so Matilda became that for me. We even had a shared favourite book, The Secret Garden. I loved this story so much that the year after I first read it I wrote a multi page poem about the infamous chocolate cake incident for school. Not many things survived my childhood but I still have my treasured 1989 paperback copy of Matilda and that poem.

I found an amazing article by Mara Wilson about Matilda at 30. I love that there are multiple 30th anniversary editions of Matilda, each showing her thriving in a different way. Naturally this means that I have to buy one of each because, you know, marketing and obsessive book love and I have to have them all!!!

I need to press pause for a bit and tell you how much I adore all of Quentin Blake’s illustrations in Matilda and the rest of Roald Dahl’s books. As a kid I read about a bazillion books and while I always remembered the names of the titles and authors, the only illustrator whose name I knew was Quentin’s. Roald and Quentin made a perfect team, with Quentin highlighting all the phizz-whizzing quirkiness of Roald’s imagination. Even now I compare every illustrator I come across to Quentin; I can’t help it.

I don’t think you can truly put into words the impact a book has had on you like Matilda had on me but I know I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. While reading it this time I wondered where its characters would be today. I expect I’ll change my mind each time I reread this book from now on but here’s what I came up with this time:

The Wormwoods

Michael Wormwood eventually reconnected with his brilliant sister and they stay in regular contact. After some turbulent times as a teenager where he made some choices he’d prefer to forget including stealing cars, Michael turned his life around and now mentors troubled teens.

Mrs Wormwood is now a frumpet in an aged care facility where she cheats at Bingo and watches her programmes. She did try to sell Avon for a while but potential customers took one look at her caked on makeup and shut the door in her face. She never made a single sale. She bleached her hair one too many times so she’s now bald and her face has a look of perpetual surprise due to botched plastic surgery.

Mr Wormwood remains a grunion. The Wormwoods lived in Spain for a few years until his schemes were discovered and they were run out of the country. After trying and failing to implement new scams in numerous other countries Mr Wormwood eventually found work at a sawdust mill. His boss is a woman. He has a phobia of hats.

The Kids

Fred, Matilda’s friend who owned Chopper the parrot, became a veterinarian.

Lavender remains adventurous and now spends her days touring the world, conquering one extreme sport after another. She has lucrative sponsorship deals and whenever she’s photographed you can be sure her hair is a different colour, but never lavender. She has a pet newt and remains in contact with Matilda.

Hortensia now owns a pub and is known to regale her customers with wild, detailed yarns about her formative years under the watchful glare of the Trunchbull and her experiences in The Chokey. No one knows whether to believe her or not but she’s a born storyteller so they always come back for more.

Ollie Bogswhistle double crossed the wrong people and wound up serving time. He’s currently a prison snitch and after being on the receiving end of one too many punches he now sports a full set of dentures.

Julius Rottwinkle has a fear of heights and flying, among many other phobias. He attends therapy frequently. He hasn’t eaten liquorice since he was a child.

Nigel Hicks has extraordinary balance. He wrote a book espousing the health benefits of not showering very frequently but for some reason remains single.

Prudence, emboldened by being able to spell a ‘difficult’ word in Miss Trunchbull’s presence, went on to become a spelling bee champion.

Amanda Thripp never cut her hair again, an achievement that has made her the Guinness World Record holder for having the longest hair. She only ever wears her hair in pigtails.

Rupert Entwistle works at the Natural History Museum but his passion is cryptozoology. He had a secret crush on his next door neighbour Lavender for many years and follows her adventures on social media.

The other Rupert, Matilda’s classmate with the golden tresses, became an accountant and carries a calculator wherever he goes.

Eric Ink has a most unusual party trick; he can waggle his ears at will. He loves cosplay and due to his large pixie shaped ears he never needs to worry about adding prosthetic ears to his costumes.

Wilfred overcame his fear of being upside down when he went bungee jumping.

Bruce Bogtrotter became a competitive eater during high school and is now a well known food critic. His favourite food is chocolate cake and travels the world in search of a more delicious cake than the one Cook baked for him. He’s yet to find one.

The Crunchem Staff

Cook, may she rest in peace, quit her job shortly after selling her prized chocolate cake recipe to the highest bidder and then proceeded to lose every cent betting on the horses.

After Mr Trilby became the Head Teacher of Crunchem Hall Primary School the students and teachers breathed a collective sigh of relief. He became the most loved Head Teacher that ever ran the school. Sure, that’s not saying much, but he was wonderful. Honest!

Miss Plimsoll remained a teacher until she retired. She never had another student as brilliant as Matilda.

The Trunchbull was never heard from again. A school without children was established several years after she disappeared. While record numbers of applications were received for the school’s teaching positions, the school itself surprisingly went bankrupt within its first year and was forced to close. There is an old lady in Arkham Asylum that constantly mutters about chalk but no one knows who she is.

The Heroes

Mrs Phelps went on to inspire countless young minds to adore reading. A number of her patrons became well known authors and you’ll find her name in the dedications and acknowledgement sections of several bestsellers. Mrs Phelps has since retired and now travels the world, Kindle in hand. She spends each Christmas with Matilda and Miss Honey.

Miss Honey found her relatives in Australia and has visited them a few times during school holidays. She adopted Matilda but only because she needed offical paperwork to prove what they already knew; they were family. Miss Honey went on to become many students’ favourite teacher and won numerous awards for her pioneering method of using music in her classroom. Her home is full of books. She loves nothing more than pottering around in the garden at The Red House and lives a peaceful, quiet life.

Matilda has led a full life. She couldn’t decide which university course to study so she completed them all and was able to study for free because of the scholarships she was awarded. She has travelled extensively, following in the footsteps of the characters in the books of her childhood. She has worked as a librarian, lovingly sharing her passion for books with a new generation. She has also published a number of books, both fiction and nonfiction. She gets excited when she finds a book she hasn’t read. After consulting with Matilda behind the scenes many leaders have implemented her ideas to solve worldwide problems. Matilda is a wonderful mother and a loving partner, and Miss Honey remains one of her favourite people. Above all, Matilda is happy.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Puffin, an imprint of Penguin Random House UK, for the excuse to read this book yet again. As soon as I saw the 30th anniversary edition on NetGalley I got so excited about Quentin Blake’s amazing covers I had to see them immediately!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she’s knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she’s a super-nerd and the teacher’s pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda’s world.

For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there’s the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Miss (“The”) Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge.

She warms up with some practical jokes aimed at her hapless parents, but the true test comes when she rallies in defense of her teacher, the sweet Miss Honey, against the diabolical Trunchbull. There is never any doubt that Matilda will carry the day. Even so, this wonderful story is far from predictable.

Roald Dahl, while keeping the plot moving imaginatively, also has an unerring ear for emotional truth. The reader cares about Matilda because in addition to all her other gifts, she has real feelings.