The Bookshop Girl

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 10 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

There is nothing like a magical bookshop to dream about! I love books about these kinds of libraries! I think 3rd grade up will love this story. Especially those children who love libraries, book shops, reading, books, anything book related...! Great, fun read! The characters were loads of fun and I can't say enough about the setting!   I think it will appeal to children who enjoyed Roald Dahl.  Very British.
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Bishop, Sylvia. The Bookshop Girl. Peachtree Publishers, 2018.

Property Jones was abandoned in a bookshop when she was just five years old, and since then she has lived with the owners of the shop, who have raised her as their own. Their shop isn't doing well, until one day they discover that they have won a competition and stand to inherit The Great Montgomery Book Emporium! But with this new shop also comes a big mystery, and it's up to Property to get to the bottom of it. 

This is a nice, clean read for middle grade students. I found the idea of a five year old being abandoned in a book shop, and then simply taken in by the family, a bit of a stretch (why didn't five year old Property know her name or who her parents were?), but the target audience for this book will not have a problem with that in the slightest. Otherwise, it's a fun, light mystery set in a bookshop and will appeal to many readers.

Recommended for: middle grade
Red Flags: None
Overall Rating: 3/5 stars

Read-Alikes: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, Book Scavenger, The Mysterious Benedict Society

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley for the purpose of review.
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The Bookshop Girl, written by Sylvia Bishop and illustrated by Ashley King, certainly had potential, and it has a winning charm about it throughout, but ultimately its flaws nearly cancel out its positives, though quite young readers (younger I’d say than most of its target middle grade audience) very well might overlook or just not notice them.

Property Jones was abandoned in a bookstore at a young age and taken in by the shop owner Netty and her son Michael; this despite the fact the bookstore is not a money-maker.  A year later, on the edge of failure, Netty enters a contest and wins the famously huge Book Emporium in London, whose quirky owner has decided to retire. Property and her adoptive family have barely moved into the odd megastore before the villain enters the story (and the store).  Property, with the help of the Emporium’s cantankerous cat, will have to find some way of outsmarting the bad guy before her family loses everything, all while keeping hidden her deep dark secret that she doesn’t know how to read. 

Property herself is one of the positives in the book, beginning with that great name and continuing through her sense of agency and determination.  The other highlight is the Emporium itself, which has a mechanism that allows specialized rooms to rotate into place for patrons to enter, and Bishop’s creativity shines in moments when we get to see the chambers. The Room of Ocean Tales, for instance, “turned out to be a glass tank filled with fish of every color and eels and seahorses and crabs and even a billowing stingray. There was a tunnel through the middle that you could walk down, and the books were lying in wooden chests, like sunken treasures.  The Room of Woodland Tales, meanwhile, has “a pine needle floor and kept its books in trees.”  And Bishop’s warmly gentle and inviting, often charming, voice is another plus throughout.

As for the negatives.  The villainous plot makes no sense whatsoever. and it’s hard to imagine even middle grade readers not going, “Wait, how is that supposed to work?” or “Nobody noticed that? Seriously?”  I never quite understood the hugely-emphasized theme of Property not being able to read. Is she not in school? (a question again it seems the target audience is sure to ask). And when the grand reveal is made, and the answer is “we will have to teach you,” I can hear a chorus of “duhs!” ringing out. Property seems a bit all over the map in terms of age between how old we’re told she is and what she says or does or how she is spoken to. And while it’s obviously a positive that Property is in charge of her own destiny, that she is an active protagonist who saves herself and her family, it all falls into place a bit too easily (and with a lot of reliance on nobody else being very bright or observant). There are a few more issues, some convenient coincidences, etc. but mostly what it boils down to is the winning voice can’t quite carry the reader past major issues of plot. I found myself wishing actually that Bishop hadn’t even bothered with the bad-guy plot and just had Property exploring that wonderfully quirky bookshop, of which we see far too little. 

As noted, younger readers will probably be OK with the plot problems, and I think as a read-aloud story (enhanced by King’s pleasing black-and-white illustrations) The Bookshop Girl  would probably win over that audience. But middle grade readers I believe will have a harder time just ignoring the flaws in favor of voice and style.
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This was a really cute story about a girl who can't read, but ends up saving her family's bookshop, because she pays great attention to detail.  It was a quick read with just a bit of mystery.  The illustrations were done very well and added nicely to the story.
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The Bookshop Girl is a tale targeted at middle-grade readers, but can (and I daresay, will) be enjoyed by readers of all ages. 

The characters are fun and believable and even though they are ordinary people, they find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. 

The story itself is deceptively simple, but is filled with symbolism and double meaning. 

Property is an eleven year old girl who has been adopted by a single mother and her son and she lives with them in their tiny bookshop when the story begins. The message I believe this portion of the story conveys is that there are many different types of families. Property finds love and acceptance with Michael and his mother Netty. These kind-hearted people took her in when her own family left her at the bookshop and never came back. 

When Property's adoptive mother enters and wins a contest where the prize is ownership of the Great Montgomery Book Emporium, Property's world suddenly expands dramatically. 

When they first arrive at their new (and gigantic) bookstore, they find a unique setup and they quickly discover how wonderful the store is. To me, this is true of every bookstore and every library. There are magical worlds waiting to be discovered inside the pages of every book. In this story, that magic is more literal but no less true. 

Despite the charming characters and the magical and mysterious story line, THE BOOKSHOP GIRL actually tackles some serious issues - one of which is LITERACY. The message contained within this book is that not being able to read is not something to be ashamed of, and that can be remedied if the person confides in a loved one. 

The second issue that is discussed in the book is the value of careful observation. Property's ability and penchant for paying close attention to everything going on around her is what leads her to discover that something sinister is happening. Without her paying such close attention to detail, the story would have had a very different ending.

Perhaps the most important message in THE BOOKSHOP GIRL is that family is not defined by blood relation and that there are many types of families. Property is not the biological daughter of Netty, but she is just as much Netty's child as Michael is. This message is one that other adopted children need to hear. 

The Illustrations by POLY BERNATENE are pure perfection. They contain the exact right amount of whimsy and quirkiness. In fact, I loved the Illustrations so much that I did a Google search for more books containing his work. 

I rate THE BOOKSHOP GIRL as 4.5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for middle-grade readers. 

* Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this #book.
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Would you love to live in a bookstore? What if you didn't know how to read, would you still want to live there? This is the life of Property Jones. She was abandoned in a bookstore when she was very young and raised by the bookstore owner, Netty Jones and her son Michael. Property kept a secret for six years - she never learned how to read- but she pretended she did.  The longer she went on pretending that she could read, the harder it was to tell the truth. However, that became the least of Property's problems when her family won the greatest bookstore in all of Britain. The Jones' couldn't believe their luck when they won Albert H. Montgomery's Book Emporium. Little did they know that the reason Mr. Montgomery was so eager to get out is that he bought a very rare and expensive piece of literature but he ruined it by spilling lemonade on it. He owed a very mean man a very large amount of money and he wanted the Joneses to take the fall for it. As Mr. Eliot Pink proceeds to take everything away from the Jones, Property discovers a secret that the evil Mr. Pink wants to stay hidden - the book he sold to Mr. Montgomery is a fake. Now Property has been locked into one of the many rooms in the Emporium and she can't tell her secret to anyone. Will Property be able to escape the room and alert her family of what is going on? Will Property's embarrassing secret that she cannot read ever be revealed? Will Property's family be kicked out of their home or can she expose what Mr. Pink is doing? Read this exciting story of family, friends, and determination, not to mention one of the most amazing bookstores ever!
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Property Jones doesn’t know how to read but she’s smart and recognizes when a crook swindles her family out of their bookstore. I thoroughly enjoyed this story about family, books, and out-of-the-box thinking.
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