Coles Book Arcade comes to life! Read our review for The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor

Coles Book Arcade comes to life! Read our review for The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor

Author Amelia Mellor has crafted a fine piece of social history as well as a riveting adventure story for readers 10+. The “hero” The Grandest Bookshop in the World is a bookshop. Coles Book Arcade was a famous institution, with locations in both Sydney and Melbourne. The Melbourne store was the grandest of them all, known throughout the world and a real destination for book lovers everywhere. It boasted a tea salon, real monkeys, talking parrots, various automata (an early form of robotics), a string quartet and various other diversions to support the astonishing three storeys of bookshelves, said to contain over two million books.

Mr E.W. Cole was the proprietor: a visionary, family man, and a fierce opponent of the White Australia Policy. He specifically designed the Tea Salon to combat racism against Chinese and Indian people. He was also a publisher of books and pamphlets, many of which are held in various museums today. His most famous book, Coles Funniest Picture Book has been reprinted many times and is still available today.

Coles Funniest Picture Book was part of my childhood, so I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting elements such as the riddles. Reading Coles Funniest Picture Book is like a trip into the past for me at two levels – firstly back to my own childhood reading from my grandmother’s library, and secondly a trip back in time to the social mores of the time it was published.

I dived into Amelia Mellor’s fiction book with great enthusiasm and I was not disappointed. The main character, Pearl Cole, is the daughter of Mr E.W. Cole and she lives in a flat above the bookstore with her family. They are a large and boisterous family, and the children are encouraged to be curious and inquiring.

A strange man appears in the store and Pearl begins to investigate the business he is undertaking with her father. This leads Pearl and her brother Valentine (Valley) on a fast-paced race against the stranger, The Obscurosmith. He has the magical power to wipe memories, plus his magic is draining the bookstore of its life. Only Pearl and Valley can save the family, their home and their beloved bookstore from a sad fate. They must play the Obscurosmith’s game, solving riddles within specific time frames, and beat him at his own game.

All of the action takes place within the bookstore, and much of it is based on the real rooms and attractions, architecture and design of the Melbourne store. The children enlist the support of other family members and store team members, the pace is driven by the clock, and the riddles become more difficult to solve, as well as more physically punishing. Memories start to fade as the children reach the critical point of the game. Will they make it through to the end of the game?

Amelia Mellor has created a magical world within a bookstore, set in the late 19th century. Her writing is quite cinematic and will appeal to today’s readers. Fans of movies such as Jumanji will revel in the imaginative exploits and time-trip.

This book has been beautifully packaged with a hardcover, gold embossing and rainbow coloured endpapers. It is like a little bit of 19th-century craftsmanship and a gorgeous gift for any reader, of any age.

Reviews

Find out the magic behind The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor

Review | Author Related

16 October 2020

Find out the magic behind The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor

Magic of yesteryear: Take a sneak peak at The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor

Review | Extract

7 October 2020

Magic of yesteryear: Take a sneak peak at The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor

Related Articles

A trip down memory lane: Find out the story that inspired The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor

News | Author Related

9 October 2020

A trip down memory lane: Find out the story that inspired The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor

Publisher details

The Grandest Bookshop in the World
Author
Amelia Mellor
Publisher
Affirm Press
Genre
Children’s Fiction
Released
29 September, 2020

Synopsis

Pearl and Vally Cole live in a bookshop. And not just any bookshop. In 1893, Cole’s Book Arcade in Melbourne is the grandest bookshop in the world, brimming with every curiosity imaginable. Each day brings fresh delights for the siblings: voice-changing sweets, talking parrots, a new story written just for them by their eccentric father.When Pearl and Vally learn that Pa has risked the Arcade – and himself – in a shocking deal with the mysterious Obscurosmith, the siblings hatch a plan. Soon they are swept into a dangerous game with impossibly high stakes: defeat seven challenges by the stroke of midnight and both the Arcade and their father will be restored. But if they fail Pearl and Vally won’t just lose Pa – they’ll forget that he and the Arcade ever existed.
Amelia Mellor
About the author

Amelia Mellor

Amelia Mellor began her writing career as her secondary school’s resident playwright in Year 11. As part of her creative writing course at the University of Melbourne, she completed a thesis on the reinvention of the Industrial Revolution in children’s fantasy literature. In 2018, she won the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust’s Ian Wilson Memorial Fellowship for The Grandest Bookshop in the World. Her other writing credits include a 2018 ASA Award Mentorship and a finalist place in the 2016 Grace Marion Wilson Emerging Writers’ Contest. When she isn’t writing, Amelia enjoys hiking, gardening and drawing. She is an English teacher in regional Victoria.

Books by Amelia Mellor

COMMENTS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *