Review: The Magic Story Shop

Published by Oneworld Publications
Published on 3rd October (UK)
Illustrated by Florentine Prechtel
Translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

I really enjoyed this gentle story which has at its heart themes of friendship and family.  This would be a perfect read for children of 7+.

The story is written in the wonderfully talkative style of Clara who must say goodbye to her best friend, Lottie as she is moving to another town with her mum due to a difficult family situation.  Of course, the best friends do not want to be parted and where better to hide out than their favourite place:  Mrs Owl’s Story Shop.  The bookshop is a special and magical place to Clara, who is a real bookworm, and this is where she goes to try to help her come to terms with her best friend’s absence.

Having to say goodbye to your best friend feels like a broken heart.

The owner of the bookshop, Mrs Owl, is just wonderful:  she is full of wise advice, has a kind heart and is nurturing.  She is ably assisted by her rather unusual companions:  a rhyming cat called Gustaf and a very grand mirror called Mr King who is incredibly perceptive.  Both can be understood by Mrs Owl and Clara, and they offer plenty of humour throughout.

Clara’s family really look out for her, trying to cheer her up and involving themselves in events at the bookshop.  Of course, no matter how much they try, Clara can’t help missing Lottie. Things get worse when she goes back to school:  will she ever be able to accept that not having her best friend doesn’t mean that she can’t give others a chance?

As well as having to come to terms with Lottie’s move, Clara also needs to help Mrs Owl who is having some problems of her own at the bookshop, problems that could result in its closure.  I loved both the use of the bookshop as a location through which a lot of the action occurs, and its importance to the community. I also enjoyed how some reading stereotypes are overturned.

This is a perfect read for any child coming to terms with a best friend moving away, any child who enjoys the magic of books, or any child who just wants to read a wonderfully feel-good, uplifting story with heart-warming character.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an e-ARC in return for my honest opinion.

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