Middle Grade Reviews

Review: The Polka Dot Shop by Laurel Remington

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Extract:

I open it carefully like a chocolate wrapped in foil. It’s a dress in black silk with a white polka-dot pattern; it has a heart-shaped neckline, cap sleeves, a narrow waist and a full skirt which flares out with layers of sparkly tulle underneath. 

(The Polka Dot Shop by Laurel Remington. P44.) 

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Synopsis:

Andy is sick of wearing second-hand clothes. She wants to keep up with the other girls at school, who wear the latest fashion, but her Mum can’t afford shopping trips. She brings from her second-hand clothes shop. The shop has seen better days – it is overstocked, has a strange smell and is only making £18 a day.

Then Andy finds a bag of designer clothes in the storeroom and a plan forms – she could turn Mum’s shop into a high-end fashion boutique. Luke from next door is on board, but how will Andy ever persuade her Mum that change is for the best?

A warm-hearted story about friendship, family and overcoming our fears.

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Review:

A cute and thoroughly modern transformation story. A girl in rags (well, second-hand Converse) sets out to transform a small shop at the tatty end of the high street.

Andy starts out peeved about her lack of clothes but takes the problem to hand and searches for her own solutions. We root for her because she isn’t spoiled or entitled, even if she occasionally gets it wrong. All the main characters are likeable, and all are driven by their own goals. There is Stevie, who is learning to walk again, Carrie who wants to get fitter, and Luke, who wants to help his Uncle.

Mum’s depression forms another major storyline. Andy reacts badly at first, wondering why people with depression can’t just pull themselves together. She blames herself and worries that something terrible will happen. I thought Andy’s behaviour was brilliantly written. It challenged common attitudes while showing the situation from Andy’s side.

It is a story of self-acceptance. The main theme is that change can be for the good and that sometimes we must be brave enough to believe there is something better for us. It is about the importance of supporting each-other and expressing belief in other people.

The setting is recognisable to today’s Tweens. It is a world of bloggers and vloggers and eBay and yoga studios. Not that is doesn’t reference older fashions and music, but it recognises them for what they are – vintage. This book is pitched perfectly to pre-teens and younger teenagers.

A feel-good contemporary story. This would make a lovely read for the summer holidays.

 

Thanks to Chicken House Books for my copy of The Polka Dot Shop. Opinions my own.

 

 

Guest Post

Blog Tour: Author guest post from Laurel Remington

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Guest post – Laurel Remington, author of The Polka Dot Shop.

The Polka Dot Shop by Laurel Remington is a new favourite contemporary middle grade novel. It is modern, moving and I adore the vintage shop setting. I particularly love how  a classic polka dot dress sets events into motion and brings people together. I am delighted to host a guest post from author Laurel Remington. She has written some fun facts about polka dots birdFun facts about Polka Dots!

I’m delighted to announce that The Polka Dot Shop, my third book for ages 9+, is out on 5th July 2018. The book tells the story of 13-year old Andy, who has a hate-hate affair with her mum’s vintage shop and the ‘pre-loved’ clothing she is forced to wear. But when she discovers a classic polka dot Chanel dress, Andy begins to change her tune. She embarks on a journey to transform her mum’s shop into something fabulous, and ends up transforming herself in the process. In honour of Andy’s foray into fun, friendship, and fashion, here are some fun facts about polka dots!

 

  1. The word “polka” derives from “Polish woman” (Polska) in Polish, and in Czech, it translates to “little woman or girl.” Not a bad name for such a fun and feminine print.
  2. The exact connection between the polka dance craze of the mid 1800s and the pattern of dots is not known. The first printed use of the term was in the American women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1857. There was a description of a: “scarf of muslin, for light summer wear, surrounded by a scalloped edge, embroidered in rows of round polka dots.”
  3. The first known photograph of polka dot clothing is from 1865. A woman is sweeping a floor in a baggy polka dot shirt tucked into a striped skirt with a polka dot apron.
  4. In America, the polka dot craze began in 1926, when Miss America was photographed in a polka dot swimsuit. In 1951, Marilyn Monroe was famously photographed in a polka dot bikini. In 1960, the trend resurged with the release of Brian Hyland’s song “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”.
  5. Minnie Mouse was introduced by Disney in 1928, wearing a red polka dot dress and matching bow.
  6. In 1940, Frank Sinatra’s released his ballad “Polka Dots and Moonbeams”, capturing the height of polka dot mania. That same year, the Los Angeles Timesassured its readers: “You can sign your fashion life away on the polka-dotted line, and you’ll never regret it.”
  7. In the famous wartime poster from 1942, Rosie the Riveter is wearing a red and white polka dot headband.
  8. Polka dots are not just for women. In 1962, Marvel Comics unleashed its polka dot-clad superhero – Polka-Dot Man – who used the power of polka dots to defeat baddies.
  9. The leader in the mountain section in the Tour de France wears a polka dot jersey.
  10. In the 2001 film Legally Blonde, Elle Woods’ college counsellor said: “Harvard won’t be impressed that you aced History of Polka Dots.” Can a woman ever be taken seriously in polka dots? I think so.
  11. As Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama reminds us: ‘Our earth is only one polka dot among millions of others’.

 

With all that in mind, let’s wear those dots proudly!

 

Laurel Remington’s new novel THE POLKA DOT SHOP is out now, priced £6.99. Get your copy here or follow Laurel on Twitter!