The StrangeWorlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski

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Orion Children's Books 2020. ISBN: 9781510105942.
(Ages: 8+). Highly recommended. Magnifying glasses, outlandish suitcases and a dusty mysterious store begin this fantasy tale of multi-universes and exciting travel. Twelve year old Flick Hudson is moving to a different home in the country. It is in a new housing estate close to the village of Little Wyverns. She is not happy. Both her parents work shifts and she has to be responsible at times for her baby brother Freddy as well as many of the household tasks. Flick has a great desire to explore and travel the world and this wish comes to fruition sooner than expected. While exploring the local village Flick stumbles upon an old stone Victorian Arcade and The StrangeWorlds Travel Agency. On entering the store she sees suitcases of different shapes, hues and designs stacked against the walls and meets eighteen year old Jonathan Mercator who is the proprietor of the travel agency and head custodian of the suitcases. While they do not warm to each other at first, Jonathan realizes that Flick has special magical powers when she observes what are known as schisms through broken glass. Flick is invited to join the StrangeWorlds Society and Jonathan takes her on her first journey into another world through a suitcase. They visit the Crystal Forest where they see very different landscapes and creatures. This visit for Flick is a relatively safe taste of things to come.
Central to the plot is Jonathan's missing father who has not returned from another world visit for a number of months. With Flick's help he must try to track him down although all is not what it seems as Flick later learns. Visiting the City of Five Lights puts both Jonathan, Flick and the whole other world in danger and they must use all of their wits to out play the desperate Thieves.
Descriptive language and original imagery, a fast paced and action packed plot maintains the reader's interest and engagement. For fans of a fantasy series this will not be a stand-alone read. There are questions still to be answered and a clever hint at situations still to be resolved. A really appealing and refreshing new read. Teacher's notes are available. Themes: Family, Magic, Travel, Fantasy Worlds, Friendship, Mystery.
Kathryn Beilby