Alexandra Page, illustrated by Penny Neville-Lee
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
The author sets her splendid debut story in 1952 smoggy London where, in the run-up to Christmas, we meet young Penny Black. Penny is staying with her postmaster Uncle Frank above his post office because her airmail pilot mother is stuck in France due to the smog, and may not make it back in time for Christmas.
Writing to her mum one night, Penny is feeling especially lonely when she discovers a tiny creature stuck in a rat trap. However she quickly learns that this is no rat; ” I is a Sorter Second Class” the furry thing announces, going on to introduce himself as Wishyouwas and explaining that his role, along with his friends, is to collect lost mail and get it to the rightful recipients. Thus begins a wonderful adventure, for Wishyouwas takes Penny to the subterranean world of the Sorters and Deliverers whose very existence is threatened on account of Stanley Scrawl, the thoroughly unpleasant Royal Mail rat catcher.
Dear Penny, as Wishyouwas calls her, is determined to protect her new friend and the Sorters and Deliverers;
but will she be able to keep them safe and thus save Christmas, with that sinister Scrawl and his greyhound Ripper (both brilliantly described) on the prowl?
With its warmth, friendship and potential perils, who wouldn’t be enthralled by this magical seasonal adventure, made all the more so by Penny Neville-Lee’s super illustrations? I couldn’t put it down.