Sylvia Bishop’s The Bookshop Girl is about little Sylvia who was left behind in The White Hart bookstore by her birth family. She was six. She was discoverd by Michael who was The White Hart’s owner, Netty’s, son. Michael had promptly put her into a cupboard from where she was rescued by Netty and adopted. This happy ragtag of a family lived and worked in the inn-converted-bookshop. They were not exactly impoverished but they were definitely not well off. Michael for example wore clothes that were much too small for a thirteen year old. They were a happily content family. Their happiness quotient went through the roof when they realised they had unexpectedly won the raffle to inherit the famous London bookshop — Montgomery Book Emporium. (Judging from the descriptions in the book, Montgomery Book Emporium was probably much like this fantastic four-storey bookstore in Detroit. ) To retain this inheritance the family unexpectedly finds itself in the middle of a book adventure involving forgeries, bibliophiles, book antiquarians and museum officials.
The Bookshop Girl is suitable for readers graduating out of chapter books. Plot apart, it is a lovely way of young readers discovering a cannon of writers who have been influential on modern literature such as Shakespeare, Da Vinci, etc. They story has a crisp pace. It is a delight to read especially along with the wacky illustrations by Ashley King. This incredibly talented duo worked together on Sylvia Bishop’s gorgeous debut novel Erica’s Elephant too.
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Sylvia Bishop The Bookshop Girl ( Illustrated by Ashley King) Scholastic Children’s Book, London, 2017. Pb. pp.
26 February 2018