Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Anything Shop

The Anything Shop by Dawn Meredith, illustrated by Lesley Vamos (Wombat Books)
PB RRP $14.95
ISBN 978-1-921633-51-5
Reviewed by Jacque Duffy

First impression of this chapter book was that it would be perfect for boys age 7 -10. Thanks to the cover illustration at first glance I was reaching for this book rather than others on the table and I am sure it would have same effect on children. The illustration of two young boys scheming supposedly against the cranky looking older couple on the cover is engaging.

Dawn Meredith’s story of young Charlie and his new friend Sam is one most children will relate to. The story shares a valuable life lesson in a way children will embrace. The Anything Shop is a strange building that has suddenly appeared in town. Charlie discovers the elderly man and woman from the store know his name and know his dreams. They swap his embarrassing hugs for a cricket bat that always hits a six, something that makes him very happy. It is not long before he and other children in the town discover they miss the hugs, laughter and kisses from their families, and that new toys can not replace affection.

Meredith’s writing is flavored with recognizable smells, sounds and sights and is a delight to read. “It was bright and clean inside the shop and smelled of vanilla and licorice.” This sentence invites you into the store and then on the next page the reader can feel a sense of uncertainty. “Meryl jumped down off the counter lightly. ‘Come into the storeroom,’ she said, beckoning with a bony finger, looking at him over the tops of her glasses. Her high heels clip-clopped on the floor as she led him to a blue triangular shaped door at the rear of the shop. On it was a sign that said ‘All your dreams in here’.”

The layout of the book is clean and easy to follow. Vamos’ illustrations are a big part of the book and keep the story flowing nicely giving affirmation to the younger reader who may be a little unsure. Each black and white illustration is strong and appears to be full of life and colour.

Young readers will enjoy this book.

Jacque Duffy is the author and illustrator of the series ‘That’s not a …” learn to read books used in all Queensland State Primary Schools and one local history coffee table book. www.jacquesartandbooks.com

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