The Upside Down River: Tomek's Journey

Thirteen-year-old orphan Tomek runs a grocery store where, one day, a stranger girl comes into his shop asking for various items. She tells him she is looking for a magic river whose waters are eternal. Tomek develops a yearning to travel, and to bring some of the eternal water back for a beloved elderly man in his village.

Tomek sets off on a year-long journey where he encounters lovely people who immediately care for him dearly. Tomek searches for the girl from his shop, Hannah, and, together, they finally arrive at the magic river. There, though, they realize that maybe living forever is not as glamorous as it originally seemed.

With a message that life really is all about the people you meet along the way, Tomek’s quest - or journey - is quaint, cosy, and keeps readers wanting to know what happens next. Though there are some spots that do not seem to have the strongest writing and bring a bit of confusion, overall, this story is easy to become immersed in.

Schwartz brings humor and charm to a translation that is also filled with challenging vocabulary. Attempts to figure out the historical setting of the book will intrigue readers, as while the story has medieval overtones, with its fleets of tall ships and animals as transportation, some characters wear laboratory coats, work in factories, and drink almond milk, which suggests some modernity. An usual, thoughtful story!