When Nathaniel's eccentric Aunt Eleanor dies, she leaves her ramshackle house to his family. She has willed two items to her favourite niece and nephew: ten-year-old Angelica receives a porcelain doll and seven-year-old Nathaniel is given the key to her library.
For Nathaniel, who still doesn't know how to read, his aunt's gift is of little interest. It isn't until he discovers that the books are inhabited by the tiny characters of children's stories that he appreciates the worth the gift. Aunt Eleanor's library consists of first editions of the world's fairy tales, and unless Nathaniel can read a magic spell, the characters and the books themselves will disappear, leaving the world without stories.
Before Nathaniel can decipher the spell the books are sold to Mr Pickall, an unscrupulous second-hand dealer. Nathaniel, now shrunk by the Wicked Fairy to the size of the storybook characters, must brave everything to save his tiny friends and their stories.
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