Wishyouwas is an endearingly heart-warming, spellbinding adventure that completely enchanted me from start to finish: an absolute treat of a story, perfect to cuddle up with on a colder evening!
It’s December 1952, and 10-year-old Penny Black is staying with her postmaster Uncle Frank as her mother, who is an airmail pilot, is stuck in France due to the thick smog that is permeating London.
Feeling lonely and missing her Mum, Penny is writing a letter to her when she is disturbed by what she thinks is a rat entering the Post Office through its letterbox and, plucking up her courage, she follows it … and discovers, not a rat, but the most adorable tiny creature caught in a rat trap. Taking pity on the creature, she frees it, and he introduces himself as Wishyouwas, a Sorter, Second Class! He is part of a secret Bureau hidden in the underground tunnels who, unbeknownst to Royal Mail, help them with the delivery of undeliverable letters.
Her Uncle also notices that letters are going missing and believes that the culprits are rats. He calls in Royal Mail Rat Catcher, Stanley Scrawl who is determined to make an end to the rat problem, but rat traps can also catch other small creatures …
Penny soon follows Wishyouwas into the tunnels beneath the London streets, and finds herself on the adventure of her life as she discovers that the Sorters are in terrible danger. Will she be able to protect them and keep them safe from the sinister Rat Catcher who is sneaking closer and closer …
This is a brilliantly fast-paced, thrilling adventure with plenty of heart-racing action, twists and tense moments as danger unfolds and risks are taken, balanced perfectly with moments of heartfelt tenderness which made this an unputdownable read.
I loved the magical world created in this story, both the atmospheric cold, smog-enveloped London and the secret world of the Sorters in the tunnels beneath its streets where they make use of items discarded by humans such as shoe boxes, paper clips and food. They have their own social structure, rules and regimes which they adhere strictly to in order to carry out their self-appointed duty as Guardians of lost mail. I loved learning about the different roles of the Sorters, and meeting so many wonderful personalities. I especially liked Thiswayup. I also loved the character names with their reference to letters: Penny Black, Uncle Frank, Handlewithcare and Withlove to name a few.
I absolutely adored both Penny and Wishyouwas who form the most gorgeous bond of friendship and trust. They are kind, loyal and courageous, and are always there for each other, regardless of the risks and danger they find themselves in. I must admit I’d love to find a Wishyouwas whilst collecting my mail! He is absolutely adorable from his imperfectly perfect speech (I is NOT a rat!) to his kind heart. I also really enjoyed how the relationship between Penny and her Uncle Frank develops.
The cover illustrations by Penny Neville-Lee both on the proof copy I have and the final cover are stunning. This will be released as a hardback, and I can’t wait to get a copy so that I can see the interior illustrations before adding it to my class library.
This is a truly mesmerising, heartfelt story with a classic feel that is sure to be enjoyed time and time again by readers of 9 to 90+! Definitely one not to be missed!
Thank you to Beatrice May and Bloomsbury for a proof copy in exchange for my honest opinion.