Sat in my usual Saturday morning spot, while my daughter attends her drama group session. I’m not complaining, though, as it’s given me the chance to finish off this lovely middle grade book by Alexandra Page. It tells the story of a young girl (Penny) who, while temporarily staying with her post master uncle, rescues a tiny creature that’s trying to remove undeliverable mail from the sorting drawers. She soon discovers that there is a vast community of these creatures, known as Sorters, that live underground and pride themselves on being the guardians of lost letters, subsequently returning them home. However, it seems that the dastardly Royal Mail rat catcher has discovered their existence and is intent on destroying them for his own nefarious reasons. Will Penny and the courageous sorters be able to defend themselves against a villainous attack or will they meet an untimely end?
Set close to Christmas in 1952, during the aftermath of the Great Smog, this is a really charming, feel-good story, which has a warm, classic feel to it. I love the magical world-building and the clever word play based around letters and correspondence: I am so stealing the phrase ‘you impertinent ink blot’! I also love the beautiful illustrations by Penny Neville-Lee interspersed through the book, the map endpapers and the lovely little surprise inside the dust jacket. I plan to share this with Anna – who fortunately still enjoys bedtime stories even though she’s now 10 going on 18 – as I think she’ll really enjoy it.