New review: The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders

I’ve enjoyed many of Kate Saunders books for children – this one is no exception and I’d thoroughly recommend it. Poignant, heart-warming and full of creativity The Land of Neverendings is a great read.

Never endings

The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders

The cat flap opened. Emily thought a wild animal was coming into the house. But the muddy creature that climbed through had four little wheels and a tail. It spoke in a voice like rough sandpaper. ‘Come on, you two – it’s nice and warm in here.’ What if there exists a world powered by imagination? A world of silliness, where humans and their toys live on long after they’ve left the Hard World . . . and what if the door between that world and this one was broken? Welcome to the Land of Neverendings.

The Land of Neverendings is moving story about a young girl Emily, whose disabled sister Holly dies, leaving her family bereft and Emily lost in a world of grief and imagination.  I hadn’t been expecting this narrative but the best stories are the ones that surprise you and this one did. I’ve always loved the idea of toys coming to life and being able to chat away with your favourite teddy bear would be just brilliant.  After her sister dies, Emily starts a journal to help her capture her memories; the more she recalls about the fun times she, Holly and Holly’s favourite toy Bluey had, the more the two worlds collide. It seems the magical world Emily created through the stories she told her sister, Smockeroon, really does exists as do the toys that live in it. And somehow the door has opened to this world, something she can only share with her babysitter Ruth, who suddenly finds she can also see and hear the toys.  For Ruth too has lost someone she loves and knows exactly how Emily feels.

The relationship between Emily and Ruth is just lovely. As Emily experiences the varying degrees of sadness, anger and even difficulties with her parents and friends who can’t deal with the death of her sister any more than she can, she is able to share all of this with Ruth who is conveniently on hand with chocolate biscuits and cups of tea. The magical narrative full of original ideas, lightens the story and creates opportunities for lots of laughs. With a host of enchanting characters including the Barbie dolls (hilarious) and soft toys Hugo and Smiffy (gorgeous), the story takes the reader on a wonderful and poignant adventure through a world of imagination.

On a personal note, I lost my eldest sister when I was 19. She too was disabled and her death like the death of any sibling left a huge hole in all of our lives. So I could truly relate to The Land of Neverendings and Emily and her experiences of grief and felt they were handled with the right amount of tenderness and humour.  This middle grade story is a celebration of the power of memory to keep those we love alive – and the power of imagination to bring joy.

The Land of Neverendings is published by Faber & Faber.

 

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