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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - The Bookshop Girl

This summer, I won a sweepstakes by Peachtree Publishers! The prize was a hardback copy of a chapter book which I found enchanting. The Bookshop Girl, with its two full-page, black and white illustrations per chapter (which ranged from eight to sixteen pages), larger print, and an eleven-year-old main character, is an excellent bridge between picture books and middle grade novels.

The Bookshop Girl

Author: Sylvia Bishop

Illustrator: Poly Bernatene

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (2018)

Ages: 8-12



Truth, family, mystery, adventure, and the magic of books.


A whimsical delight, crafted with quirkiness and a touch of classic charm.

The Joneses have just won the Great Montgomery Book Emporium in a contest, and it’s every book lover’s dream! The pull of a lever calls forth a room full of marvelous wonders―from the Room of Woodland tales with its squirrels and mice, to the rocket ship in the Room of Space Adventures, and the aquarium ceiling in the Room of Ocean Tales.

But there is more to the Emporium than its thousands of books in extravagant displays. In fact, the previous owner is hiding something that could destroy absolutely everything for the Joneses. Property Jones has a whopper of a secret too―and it might just be the key to saving her family and their bookshop from the clutches of a nasty villain.

Sylvia Bishop’s exceptional and fantastical U.S. debut features a cast of memorable, quirky characters, including the resourceful Property Jones herself and her cantankerous kitten side-kick, beautiful descriptions of the tactile pleasures of books, and the magical transporting quality bookstores can have for readers.

Opening Lines:

You have in your hands the story of Property Jones . . .

Property Jones was left in a bookshop when she was five years old. Her parents walked out and left her there - just like that. She was found by Michael Jones, who was ten at the time and who dutifully put her in the lost property cupboard.

When Nettie saw this, she sighed in a sensible sort of way. Nettie was Michael's mother and owned the bookshop and was an altogether sensible sort of person.

"People aren't property, Michael," she explained. "You can't put a girl in a cupboard."

What I liked about this book:

I remember my kids reading the A to Z Mysteries and Magic Treehouse series. The intrigue, adventure, and mystery, and action in The Bookshop Girl fits in nicely with these books and The Young Nancy Drew series. With a family's livelihood at stake, lots of secrets, and a sneaky, intelligent, villain the story grabs the reader's attention and propels them through a well-paced adventure.

Property was taken in by Nettie Jones and her son, Michael, after being abandoned in their secondhand bookstore. And she has a gigantic secret - she can't read. She's so good at faking it, no one thought to ask if she could. The Jones' enter a lottery, win, and become the new owners of the most amazing bookshop ever. It has a rotating, almost steam punk like, system of rotating rooms chocked full of books, arranged to the room's theme. For instance, a "Room of Woodland Tales" (books in trees growing over a pine needle floor), the "Room of Airplanes" (books arranged as controls on a cockpit), and the "Room of Ocean Tales" (a glass tank full of sea-creatures and treasure chests of books).

Image © Poly Bernatene, 2018.

Almost immediately, Elliot Pink (looking like a vampire), arrives and claims the prior owner owned him money for a rare book. Unable to pay the enormous price, the Jones' are evicted. While the Pink's nature is obvious to Property from the beginning, it takes a while for the others to figure it out. In an action-packed, fast-paced romp through the bookshop and the town, Property and Michael investigate, convince the prior owner to help, and devise a plan to expose Pink and his partner. In the end, it is Property's observation skills that save the day.

Poly Bernatene's detailed black and white illustrations perfectly enhance the mood and urgency of the events and the portray the spunk and spirit of Property Jones and well as the mysterious workings of the bookshop. Overall a fun read that revels in the power of books and the strength of family.


- describe or draw room(s) would you create in the emporium?

- what do you think happens next?

- how did Property’s big secret, that she couldn’t read, cause problems? How did the strategies she used to fake reading "save the day"?

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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