Skip to main content

The High Street, written and illustrated by Alice Melvin

Oh my, how I love Alice Melvin's newest picture book, The Hight Street! I suppose, if you have skimmed through enough of my raving reviews of certain picture books, you will have learned that I adore almost any book that has to do with food and/or domestic comforts. I love the book even more if if reminds me of a favorite from my childhood. The Hight Street manages to score a double here as it is about a little girl who goes shopping and, for some reason, it reminds me very much of a favorite of mine, the British classic from 1970, Mog the Forgetful Cat, by Judith Kerr.

The premise of The Hight Street is sweet and simple, but the execution is brilliant. The book begins,

Sally is in the High Street and this is what she needs...

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.

The well rhymed text takes Sally up and down the High Street as she shops for the things on her list. Each page shows her about to enter the store, then the gatefold opens to reveal the inside of the store from top to bottom. Mr Foggins' sweet shop shows the candy store on the ground floor and the candy makers busily at work in the factory one floor up. The interior of Mr Botton's bakery shows a storefront on the ground floor and a cozy tea room upstairs. After every page and every purchase Sally leaves the store listing all the things on her list that she didn't find, but the one thing that she did.

As Sally continues down the High Street doing her shopping, she gets everything on her list except for one last item, which she finds she doesn't even need to buy and it all works out in the end. While The Hight Street has a very 1960s feel to it, Melvin does a wonderful job putting all kinds of people in her book that might not have been in a children's book from fifty years ago. As with most great picture books, it is the simplest of stories that capture our imagination the most. While this may seem like it is just the story of a girl doing her marketing, going from shop to shop, there is a bit of suspense that builds as she ticks things off her list and the multitude of items in each varied store is endlessly interesting. The lilting rhymes and the excitement of finding out what is behind each storefront will keep kids listening. A visual treat, The Hight Street is printed on thick, marvelous pages and is filled with elegant, crisp, detail rich illustrations from Melvin. If you are even the tiniest bit interested in design, paper, print and decorative arts, check out Alice Melvin's website where, among other great things, you can find a "cut out and make menagerie."
The High Street:


Mom and Kiddo said…
I saw this book this week at our library in a display case about picture books featuring architecture. I was so curious about it but was unable to look inside it, so thanks for your post. Now I know a little bit more, and want to read it even more!
Tanya said…
Oh, I hope you get to read it! It's such a beautiful book!

Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…