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.)
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.
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.