The Magical Bookshop

Rock the Boat. Jun. 2020. 176p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781786078667.
Gr 3 Up–Clara thinks her new school year can’t get any worse after her best friend, Lottie, moves away. However, Clara’s world is quickly thrown into chaos by the new student who sits in Lottie’s old seat, the taunts of mean girls, and a new teacher (who happens to be the girlfriend of Lottie’s recently divorced dad). Even Clara’s beloved magical bookshop isn’t safe; the store’s magical cat and talking mirror warn Clara and store-owner Mrs. Owl about a jealous antique shop clerk who is determined to put Clara’s safe haven out of business. While filled with everyday emotional drama, Clara’s adventures remain light and fun, with small elements of low fantasy and a smattering of black-and-white illustrations adding a touch of charm to an otherwise character-driven school story. Smoothly translated from German to English, the book contains a number of Briticisms that may catch young readers off guard. It takes time to get to the real action, with the threat to the bookshop appearing and disappearing abruptly in the last third of the book.
VERDICT Not a required purchase, but a good read-alike for fans of Annie Barrows’s “Ivy and Bean” and Ann M. Martin’s “Missy Piggle Wiggle.”

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