Alice Melvin
(Tate Publishing)

Sally is off on a series of errands. Her list is impressive: a yellow rose, a garden hose, a bunch of grapes, some roller skates, a cockatoo, a tin kazoo, a Persian rug. a stripy jug, a cherry tart, a candy heart. Will she find them all? Follow her down the High Street as she visits each shop, on a quest for treasures.

There is something so deliciously old-fashioned about The High Street, and there is also a very strong nostalgic feel about our high streets used to be (and ought to be). From sweetshop to hardware shop, from antiques shop to greengrocer’s, for many children, looking inside these shops via the medium of this book will be a real discovery, as unfortunately there are not many high streets as depicted in the book left.  And though this is tinted with longing, The High Street manages to convey the sense of wonder that a child would feel when entering these shops. The clever use of flaps allows to have first a view of the shop closed and as Sally enters, the young reader can open the flap and find himself stepping inside the shop too, as illustrated below:

These illustrations are wonderfully detailed, which each shop full of quirky details, allowing for a lot of interaction and extra storytelling between adult reader and the young audience . The text accompanying the artwork is written in rhyming verse and adds to the overall whimsical feel of this gorgeous, unusual and poetic story. Alice Melvin is amongst the illustrators honoured  with the 2011 Booktrust Best New Illustrators Award and her work is well worth discovering.

All illustrations © Alice Melvin

Many thanks to Tate Publishing for sending me a review copy of “The High Street”