The shop at Hooper's Bend by Emily Rodda
Angus and Robertson, 2017. ISBN 9781460753668
(Ages 9+) For all those who have felt drawn to a place without knowing why, this book is for you. Jonquil (Quil), an 11 year old, is heading to Summer camp in the Mountains when she feels the need to get off the train one stop early. While the premise for her not being properly accompanied is a little sketchy, the reader is drawn in. Soon enough, Quil finds herself outside Hooper's Bend store, where Bailey, a fifty-something big-shot from the city, has come to view her inherited property to decide what she will do with it. While she receives a less than warm welcome from the locals, Quil feels so drawn to Bailey, it is almost as though they share a past. Is Bailey right to be suspicious of young Quil? And what is Bailey hiding from the locals?
Quil explores a theory that people are made from exploding stars and similarly to those that believe in zodiac signs, have different traits depending on how much stardust they have of one star or another. While she spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about this thoughout the novel, Bailey uncovers the truth about Hoopers Store and rekindles some friendships long forgotten. Ultimately both characters find closure through their friendship and through what they learn. Rodda's descriptive language is enchanting, and is able to capture the sort of magic that old houses from yesteryear hold within their walls.