The shop at Hoopers Bend by Emily Rodda
Angus and Robertson, 2017. ISBN 9781460753668
(Age: 9-12) Themes: Magical realism, Family relationships, Fantasy, Australia. Emily Rodda's The Shop at Hoopers Bend is a magical story, centred on eleven-year-old 'Quil' (Jonquil) Medway's search for a family and a place to call home. The dusty abandoned shop in the country is really a mysterious place, drawing together people who need each other, and where the threads of the past lie hidden waiting to be revealed at the perfect time.
Quil's parents died in a car accident when she was a baby and she now lives with Auntie Pam, an executive who spends most of her time working overseas. Maggie her Personal Assistant is there to help by collecting Quil from boarding school and seeing her off to a holiday camp on the Lithgow train. A mug found at a charity stall near the train station is the first in a series of enchanting clues that guide Quil's journey. With her name painted on the side and the base stamped with Hooper's Bend Gallery, Quil makes a decision that will change her life forever.
After thirty years of service, Prudence Bail - Bailey is retrenched and she seeks solace in the old shop and attached cottage at Hooper's Bend, an inheritance from her uncle. Two lonely people who need new directions, a renewed purpose and a family are drawn to the magical shop at Hoopers Bend. Together they learn to rely on each other, to fight the developers who want to bulldoze the shop and bring the magic back to Hoopers Crossing. Along the way, they survive a deliberately set fire, unscrupulous sales people at their pop-up shops and Quil fortuitously avoids her aunt and Maggie discovering her new home.
Emily Rodda's beautifully descriptive narrative explores the themes of loss and love, of learning to rely on others, building resilience and valuing things from the past. As the layers are peeled back and Quil discovers the hidden truths about her family, the reader comes to understand how this special enchantment was there from the beginning to lead her to her new destiny.