The High Street by Alice Melvin
I traveled to San Francisco a year ago to attend a conference, and while my friend and I were out browsing in a charming shop, I found this book. I had already spent too much money by this point, but once I laid eyes on The High Street, there was no not buying it. It is one of our most favorite picture books, and it has become one of my staple gifts for baby showers or for new parents.
The premise of the book is that little Sally has a list of ten things she needs to get on High Street. Each new spread features the facade of a shop that carries one of her items, and then the righthand page unfolds to show you the inside of the shop. Author and illustrator Alice Melvin has created such a fun, happy world that I really can’t get enough of. The language is playful, and the illustrations are captivating — the book is just wonderfully clever.
Sally’s day goes along smoothly, as she successfully crosses items off of her list one by one. That is why I was entirely thrown by a twist that happens toward the end; I won’t give it away, but the ending is beautiful and brilliant.
Imagine my delight, having adored this book for some time, when I visited Tate Britain in London last summer and found this! It’s a bit on the large side, but that didn’t stop me from traipsing around London with it under my arm and stuffing it into my suitcase. We haven’t actually gotten it out yet because I think the girls are still a little too young to play with paper dolls without destroying them, but I can’t wait to break it out someday soon. Alice Melvin is truly a book artist; many of her earlier projects were small, handmade editions, and even her widely published books have some kind of interactive element or accompanying craft project that allow a book to push past its typical boundaries (hence its placement in an art gallery bookstore). We also have and love Counting Birds, and I’ve recently ordered a couple of other things from her website because I’ve realized I’m a fan of basically everything she does.
Alice Melvin is based in Edinburgh, Scotland, and you can find her website here.
Melvin, Alice. The High Street. London: Tate Publishing, 2011. Print.