Yellowbird Education Book of the Month, March 2018

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The Nowhere Emporium, by Ross Mackenzie.

            If you missed this book when it came out - as I did - it won the Blue Peter Best Story Award 2016, the Scottish Children's Book Award 2016 and the North East Book Award 2015, so it’s well worth taking a look at it now. This is a stand-alone story, so there’s no need to search out the rest of a trilogy.

            Daniel Holmes finds the Nowhere Emporium almost by accident. Daniel is an orphan living in the city of Glasgow and he is soon entranced by the mystery of this wonderful shop.  Its owner, Mr Silver, draws him in and reveals a world filled with enchantment. The Emporium is a huge maze of passageways and rooms and Daniel soon begins learning its magical secrets. Each room can contain unlimited imaginings; he only has to write them into the Book of Wonders for them to become real.

            Daniel’s weary life is transformed. He becomes Mr Silver's apprentice and all goes well. He meets Ellie, Mr Silver’s daughter, who believes that she can’t leave the Emporium. Soon, however, the past catches up with the present and when Mr Silver disappears, disaster threatens in the form of Vindictus Sharp (Mr Silver’s nemesis). It’s up to Daniel and Ellie to save the ever-moving Emporium before it is destroyed for all eternity.

The action moves at a good clip, going back and forth between the present and the past, revealing the history of the Emporium and the relationship between Mr Silver and Vindictus Sharp. The author lets his imagination run riot and has created a page-turning adventure that will appeal to Neil Gaiman fans. It could have gone a little further in terms of themes, but that would have, perhaps, lost something in the pace of it...

As it stands, it’s a great read for competent 8 year olds. Ideal for the 9-12 age range and we give it a Yellowbird rating of 4.5 "Yellowbirds" out of 5!        

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