The High Street by Alice Melvin

Don’t let the title fool you. While the term ‘high street’ brings to mind the typical mainstream chains and franchises that seem to be everywhere these days, if anything, Scottish author-illustrator Alice Melvin’s The High Street is a romantic throwback to the good old days of small independent shops that are not owned by faceless corporations, but regular folks whom you can actually get to know and build a trusting relationship with.


Accordingly, you’d wish that the 10 quaintly inviting stand-alone shops — each with a distinct character of its own, complete with genial shop owner(s) — in the book really existed, so that you could pay them a visit yourself! But it’s a good thing that the author didn’t simply rest on the laurels of her sweetly and intricately detailed illustrations, because the book is so well conceived and cleverly written, and in rhyming prose to boot, that you’d feel as though you were shopping alongside Sally, the book’s protagonist, who’s armed with a rather unusual shopping list.


Each spread features a large flap that reveals the interior of the shop when Sally steps in to buy something, which further enhances the vicarious shopping experience — brilliant! The unexpectedly thoughtful twist at the end will also make you ponder about the necessity of owning something in order to enjoy it — although, in the case of this gorgeous little tome, I think it’s not only justifiable, but almost imperative that you (I) do.

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