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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Magical Bookshop (The)
by Katja Frixe
Age Range: 9-11
Clara must say goodbye to her best friend Lottie who is moving away. She is forlorn and takes comfort in her favourite place, Mrs Owl’s bookshop, where she is surrounded by books that appear to spring to life, Gustaf the cat who talks in rhymes, Mr King, a talking mirror, which only Clara and Mrs Owl can hear, together with copious amounts of cinnamon buns, Clara never feels alone. But someone is determined to close the bookshop down and now it’s up to Clara and her new friends to find a way to save it.
German author Katja Frixe’s story, translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, has a conversational style that is full of humour, from Gustaf’s helpful rhymes to the bickering between the cat and the mirror. There are also serious elements too such as Clara’s dislike of Smelly Toes, the name she has given to her teacher Miss Rose, who she holds responsible for Lottie having to move away, dealing with the class bullies on her own and a burgeoning friendship with new boy Leo which she feels guilty about. Mix this with some imaginative magic, eccentric characters, the sinister Mr Schwartz, who is intent on damaging business at the bookshop, the preservation of a friendship, a determined protagonist and you have a charming and captivating story.
Accompanying the text are some amusing black and white cartoon-style illustrations by Florentine Prechtel which help to enhance the story.