Here comes a classic which happily begins a series. Sometimes when you start to read a book you instantly have the feeling you are in the hands and the mind of someone who really knows what they are about. This is one of those stories because it combines a deep sense of a child’s need for an anchor on this Earth, a reassuring feeling that all will be well and that the child has a safe place to come back to as life’s adventures unfold.
In this story that safe place is the home of young Tolly’s great-grandmother, Mrs. Oldknow. Tolly, whose formal name is Toseland, has come to stay with Mrs. Oldknow and as they meet we have the feeling that this woman is wise in all things and truly has everything under control. Tolly is the lucky child who has come to the freedom of her home where he can truly explore and seek adventure all the while knowing she is there waiting to take him back in and offer him bits of knowledge that will keep him moving down his path. So there’s the background and the layers that invite us.
The story itself unfolds as Tolly begins to hear quick sounds of children….children he cannot see. At least at first he cannot see them. He is about to meet Toby, Linnet and Alexander who are all about him. They have been dead for centuries. The magic begins and Great-Grandmother shares her wisdom in the form of stories about the children who she knows well. This is a brilliantly woven classic with just the right balance of mystery, warmth, reassurance and the possibility of exploring the unseen path that lies just ahead. All the things children are experiencing and searching for in their own unconscious minds. Delightful. Perfect for children who loved the Spiderwick Chronicles, Five Children and It, the Gone Away Lake books…. for children who are feeling their way through a book and not needing instant action and resolution.