Have you ever come across the kind of package that leaves no clue as to what is inside it?

My family loves to do creative packaging for gifts – like the time that my parents wrapped a Mariah Carey cassette for me in an empty paint can. I think I was 12, and I was totally baffled. I had no idea what to do with the paint can. Last Christmas, I wrapped a gift card for Dad in the mailing tube for my diploma. Oh yeah, and I stuffed it full of marbles, too. :) So when he opened it, all of the marbles fell into the couch cushions while I sat on the floor laughing. I’m a good daughter, I am!

But that isn’t really the kind of packaging I mean. That is more intentional. What cracks me up is the strange packages you get when you buy something odd-sized online. Or even not so odd-sized. I bought my niece a Harry Potter tote bag from Barnes & Noble for Christmas. It came in this box:

Pretty big, I thought, for these contents:

I really wouldn’t have minded if they had folded the bag a bit and put it in a flatter box. Then again, I am grateful that they didn’t send it quite like an unnamed library which returned our library’s interlibrary loan item like this:

I believe some items should not be folded for shipping. Books rank high on that list. Next time, please get a larger envelope. Thank you.

And then you have the odd-sized items which show up in equally odd-sized packages. Maybe it’s just me, but I totally expected a skinny mummy to pop out of this one:

Disappointingly, it was only a curved shower rod my dad ordered from Amazon. However, if you got excited thinking about mummies and packages containing unexpected items, may I recommend Jennifer Bradbury’s Wrapped?

I preferred the original cover, which plainly included a mummy, but the reprint is also attractive:

This entertaining Victorian-era story features an extremely intelligent young lady of high society, an eligible bachelor, and a mummy unwrapping party. At the party, Agnes accidentally ends up with a French spy message which was wrapped in the mummy’s coverings. Apparently the mummy was not the one intended for the unwrapping party but was being used to smuggle a message into London. Agnes quickly discovers that it is up to her to make sure that Napoleon is stopped in his tracks. Well, it is up to her and her new-found and extremely handsome gentleman friend! Possibly not the most likely of Victorian-era stories, but so much fun and very well told. Plus, I am a sucker for stories of Victorian ladies who don’t let the silly expectations of their society stop them.

You can find Wrapped at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or WorldCat.

And if you also like to read about daring young ladies in the Victorian Era, may I recommend Y.S. Lee’s The Agency series, Alyxandra Harvey’s Haunting Violet, or Stephanie Burgis’ very funny Kat, Incorrigible.

And enjoy your oddly shaped packages, but please don’t fold any books you ship. Your library thanks you.

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