Sunday, 23 April 2017

ARC Review: The Bookshop Girl by Sylvia Bishop

I was lucky enough to receive a proof copy of this golden nugget of MG fiction from the wonderful team at Scholastic, for which they have my thanks. My review is however in no way influenced, and I do hope you enjoy it.

This story is about a little girl named Property Jones, so-called because she was left in the lost property cupboard of a bookshop when she was five years old. Property loves living in the bookshop, but she has a whopper of a secret... she can't actually read! So Property doesn't see the newspaper article announcing the chance to win the Montgomery Book Emporium, the biggest and most magnificent bookshop in the world! When her family win the competition, Property finds herself moving to the Emporium, a magical place filled with floor upon floor of books and a very bad-tempered cat. But all is not at it seems at the Emporium and soon Property Jones finds herself in a whole heap of trouble.

Property Jones lives in a bookstore. If that simple sentence doesn't make you want to read it, then I'm not sure what will. After all, isn't that every bookworm's dream? She got her name from being placed by her adopted brother in the lost property cupboard years ago. Now she, her brother, and their mother live in the bookstore they own, where they work, but they're struggling to make ends meet.. Help seems to come from an unlikely source when they win the world famous Montgomery book emporium in a competition, but since when is anything that easy? The adventure that unfolds before them is equal parts perilous as it is enchanting.

What I loved most about The Bookshop Girl was the setting. As I said before it's pretty much every bookworm's dream to live in a bookstore, but Bishop takes our imagination and fantasy to a whole new level with the emporium. Akin to something from a Rohl Dahl tale, the emporium is almost the book version of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, It's amazing, and the wondrous descriptions only make it easier to picture this wonderland in your mind's eye. Set in London I also really feel the author captured the hubbub and bustle of the famed capital, grounding the story with a firm realism so that it's almost like the events depicted could happen to any of us.

What I've seen of the illustrations (They weren't included with the proof) enhance the story that much further. Bright and bold they depict this wonderful fantasy in a manner so beautiful, for children and adults alike, whilst still leaving room for our own imagination.

Most importantly however was property, who was an amazing heroine to follow. Bright, strong and fearless, she defied the odds and showed just how much she would do and how far as she would go for her family. She overcame overwhelming challenges for a young person to face, and came out on top better for it. She faced her own fears and insecurities, proving not only her strength but just how much family means to all of us, and how much we can rely and count on them. Her story was a joy to follow and was one that will resonate with people of all ages.

Lastly I'd like to make a note of the author's portrayal of Property's illiteracy. She dealt with the subject in a sensitive, educational manner, all whilst showing the impact of familial support in both physical and emotional development.

The Bookshop Girl is a 5* read I would recommend to everyone, but especially to Middle Grade ages which are the book's intended audience. Powerful and educational in many ways, including in the importance of books themselves, whilst still wholly entertaining, it was a wonderful read. I cannot wait to see what the author produces next.

Have you read The Bookshop Girl? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter, and thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

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