Review Blog

Jun 30 2010

Captain Stella by Ruth Starke

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Aussie Chomps. Puffin, 2010. ISBN 97801433051506
(Age: Middle School) Highly recommended. Ruth Starke has once again told a perfectly believable story about a young girl helping her grandmother and her friends turn around the fortunes of an opportunity shop, destined to be closed by the local council. Stella, the main character from the award winning, Stella by the Sea, has to stay with Granny Bee while her parents are at a real estate conference in Las Vegas. Helping Granny Bee and her friends at the op shop is worrying when she sees the utter mess and total disarray of all the goods on sale, but she is amazed at the variety of customers the shop attracts. The people who visit include some who simply come along each day to pass the time with friends, or who join in with morning tea or who, new to the country, find a place where their untried language skills can be practiced.
Faced with the shop's closure, Stella devises a plan to reinvent the place as a vintage and retro shop, so attracting new customers. She enlists the help of several of her friends, Chester, the retired cook, Jeffrey and Shane the florist and hair stylist, the Kings, the printers from down the road, and Ted, the old man who almost lives at the shop. Together, this disparate group works to transform the shop, making it into something more attractive, so that the assessor will change his mind. But a clever twist sees the inspector have a change of heart for an entirely different reason. And along the way, in keeping with all of Ruth Starke's books, the underlying multicultural nature of Australia is displayed beautifully. It is an absolute delight to revisit Stella in this wonderful story.
Fran Knight

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