Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 07 Jul 2024

The Smile Shop by Satoshi Kitamura

Originally published in a UK hardback in 2020, Satoshi Kitamura’s much lauded picture story book, The Smile Shop is now available in a beautifully produced paper/card cover. And, I hardly need to say, it’s another joyful, sensitive and uplifting piece of work from a master of the genre.

A young boy has saved up his pocket money and is ready to go out on his own and find something wonderful to spend it on. But the proper research has to be done – so he walks through the vibrant marketplace checking out the different shops to see where his money is best spent. Maybe on a toy? Or a book? Perhaps a delicious apple pie? He checks out clocks and hats and musical instruments – there’s just so much to look at and admire in this market that’s humming with life and possibilities.

The boy is happy and excited – until disaster strikes! Another boy on a skateboard is rattling along the pavement and crashes into our new shopper – and whoops! Money all over the pavement and, horror of horrors, heading down the drain.

With only a single coin saved from the accident, what can he get now. Dejected, the boy is in despair until he passes an enigmatic shop sign with just one word on it – Smile. This must be a smile shop the boy reasons and right now that’s pretty much just what he needs.

I’m not going to tell you here what he finds inside because I want you to find that out for yourselves. Suffice it to say that the boy leaves the shop at the end a whole lot happier than he went in and he is ready to spread his happiness to everyone around him.

If you’d like to see the exclusive interview we did with Satoshi Kitamura you can find it here and there’s also a review of one of his other more recent books here. It’s impossible to mistake Kitamura’s drawing style – it’s wonderfully colourful and characterful and the seeming simplicity of the drawings belie a real sophistication and depth that floods the pages with a feeling that this is a world you’re not just looking at but sharing in.

Available from Scallywag Press, you will be able to get a copy of this from your local independent bookshop – who will, of course, be happy to order it if they don’t have it on their shelves.


Terry Potter

July 2024