The Bookshop Girl by Sylvia Bishop

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Illustrated by Ashley King

The Bookshop Girl, with…

…and without whippet

Property Jones

Property Jones loves books. The smell, the feel of the pages, the little differences between them. She understands almost everything about them. Everything that it, except the words. Property Jones has a secret: she can’t read.

Property has managed to keep this secret despite living in a bookshop, the one she was abandoned in at the age of five. You see, Property’s parents left her there and disappeared. She was found by Michael Jones, a logical thinker, who seeing that Property was lost promptly put her in the lost property cupboard. Hence the name.

Six years later, Property, Michael and his mum, bookshop owner Netty, live there as a family. Times are hard but a competition to own the prestigious Montgomery’s Emporium of Reading Delights might just solve all their problems. They enter and await the outcome…

(But why is such a famous and esteemed bookshop simply being given away as a prize? Surely there must be a catch?)

Join Property and the Jones as they enter the most marvellous bookshop ever invented, tangle with some very bad baddies (BOOOO!) and spend time  with a really grumpy cat.

High Adventure

This is high adventure in gorgeously imaginative settings. The narrative is lovely: the book begins and ends with a chapter communicated directly to the reader which makes it a bit different. Sylvia Bishop has great warmth in her style and I enjoyed it very much. I’m sure that children will love it too.

The Bookshop Girl is a really fun mystery. It creates amazing images in the reader’s head that will be remembered long after the last page has been turned. This is a book to be read again and again, each time enjoying favourite parts and taking something new.

The text is nicely spaced out which will help give young readers a bit of room to take the story in. It’s illustrated (as all really good books are) throughout and Ashley King has done a brilliant job visually all the characters and exciting scenes. The Bookshop Girl has it all. It’s a wonderful choice for children aged seven years plus.

 

Thank you to Scholastic for sending me this copy.


Awesome Possum by M. Garzon: Horse Power

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awesome

A Glint

When picking up a book, I always have a glint of a hope that it will be more than just a good story. Awesome Possum is happily one of those books. On the surface, it’s suitable for kids of a primary age range (I’d say independent readers from 8 to 12) looking for a similar feel to the wonderful KM Peyton’s Swallow Tales. The extra value within however makes it recommendable to children, parents and educators alike for a number of different reasons. Firstly though, you should know that this is Ben’s story:

Ben

Ben is a young lad in a new town. His parents’ recent divorce has thrown his world into the air and he’s landed, displaced and downcast, having to deal with unknown surroundings, a new school and no friends anywhere nearby. Things are pretty tough. One day whilst Ben should be in after school club (who doesn’t appreciate a rebel?) he stumbles across a local stable, and for the first time he sees Panther and  meets Sidney. That’s Panther on the cover: a magnificent Canadian horse (the story is set in Canada).

Sidney also goes to Ben’s school and tells him a little about Panther; how he hasn’t been at the stable long and that he has been un-catchable and agitated since he arrived. This resonates with Ben, who used to ride, and soon not only does he have a friend in Sidney, but he has a cause: to help Panther settle and become the wonderful pony Ben knows he has the potential to be. The only problem is, Panther’s owner has had enough and is keen to sell him and move on. Will Ben turn it around with a little help from his friends?

Love

It’s just a gorgeous story written with love. M. Garzon developed and wrote this book with her children and it has that same intrinsic warmth that Wendy Meddour catches when she collaborates with her daughter on the Wendy Quill books. It’s something quite unique and comes with a guarantee that it’s been pre-approved by young readers too!

Five Reasons Why Awesome Possum Is, Well, Awesome:

  1. This is a wonderful read for children that might need a little encouragement to read whole books. Chapters are short, the plot moves at pace with plenty to capture the imagination, and there are lots of charming illustrations to look at. You don’t have to be pony mad to enjoy this book, although obviously it will appeal to those who are.
  2. Ben is a boy- did you notice? It’s refreshing to have a boy as the protagonist in a pony book as they’re usually overrun with girls. Boys ride too. And with boys in mind further, it’s been my experience as a primary school teacher that boys often go for non-fiction over fiction books in the library. M. Garzon’s got this covered: at the end of the book we have a couple of fact files on the animals involved in the story. I thought this was brilliant, and opened the book up further in terms of breadth and appeal.
  3. M. Garzon understands that pony mad kids are usually also animal mad so here we have horses, dogs, cats and a particularly notable bunny. This is a good move. Many children reading may not have their own ponies (although they get to keep Panther for the duration of the  book) but may well have a small pet such as a hamster, guinea pig or rabbit, so will get Ben and know how he feels.
  4. Which leads me to tell you how normal Ben and his family are. Money is not abundant, he goes to a regular school and his mum and dad will be very much like a lot of the readers’ parents. And Ben is great: unlike many of the children I read about in pony books, Ben has no grand plan to own Panther. We believe his main concern is that Panther is saved, and much as he’d love him to always be around, Ben thinks more about the horse than he does about himself.
  5. Whilst reading, I noticed a very good thing. It’s usual in pony books for adults to be key figures in decision-making. It has to be. Awesome Possum does it a little differently: almost every important adult in Ben’s new life- the ones he respects, listens to, is influenced by- are women. From the Head Teacher at the school to the lady who owns the stable, Panther’s owner, his mum, are all independent women doing what they do. And I loved that.

This is a heart-warming story to delight pony lovers. Destined to keep readers reading, with a sequel in the pipeline!

GGGG Not just a clever name.