Bookshops

Over time we'll be featuring the most special UK bookshops where you'll also be able to find our book "Fearless" to purchase starting October 2020. Please support independent bookshops.

Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights

Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights

Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights

26 September 2020
14-15 John Street, Bath BA1 2JL | Tel. 01225 331155

We interviewed Juliette Bottomley of Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights, a beautiful, quirky bookshop full of character in Bath.

Q.  What is it that is special about The Grove Bookshop and what it offers?

A. We love to recommend books above all else with an incredibly passionate and knowledgeable staff which creates a very engaging and lively shop floor environment which customers really enjoy.

Q.  How did the name Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights come about?

A. This was very much a random, lightbulb moment over a glass of wine just as we were thinking of opening the shop. We like that it has a slightly Dickensian feel about it but it can also be shortened to Mr B’s!

Q.  What is the most satisfying feedback you’ve received from a customer?

A. Once in our guestbook, a little boy had written “This is the best shop ever – and I didn’t think I liked books!”

Q. What is the most common question you get asked     about children’s books?

A. We are often asked for a great recommendation for a book to read when a new sibling is coming or for something as a special Christening present.

Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights

Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights

Q. How do you help customers who are looking for the right book to introduce their children to reading?

A. If it is to help kids to get into the habit of reading when they are at the early stages of independent reading, we often like to introduce them to some brilliant graphic novels – they feel all grown up, they are often very funny and the visual element really helps with their comprehension and helps make the whole “reading” process less daunting.

Q.  Do you organise any children's activities at your bookshop?

A. In our pre-Covid world, we held story-times with guest authors and we had started to have local schools come in with a class of children for free story-times and a chance to explore a local bookshop! We work with many local schools to help organise author events during term time.

Q.  Tell us about the book you remember most from your childhood.

A. I listened to Black Beauty so many times on audio cassette I think I could still recite it by heart now! My firm picturebook favourite was (and still is!) 'Harry the Dirty Dog'.

Fearless, The Story of Daphne Caruana Galizia

"I love the strong messaging and the bold illustrations."

Juliette Bottomley- Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights

The Grove Bookshop

Mike Sansbury of the Grove Bookshop

The Grove Bookshop

16 September 2020
10, 12 The Grove, Ilkley LS29 9EG | Tel. 01943 609335

We interviewed Mike Sansbury, manager at The Grove Bookshop, one of the North of England’s best-known independent bookshops with its own small children section. They have been selling books in the pretty spa town of Ilkley for over 40 years.

Q.  What is it that is special about The Grove Bookshop and what it offers?

A. We are a longstanding Independent Bookshop which serves the local community. We tailor our stock to suit our customers.

Q.  What is the most satisfying feedback you’ve received from a customer?

A. The two most regular comments are that people always find what they’re looking for, and that they often find things they didn’t expect.

Q. What is the most common question you get asked     about children’s books?

A. People are always keen to get books which are suitable for children of particular ages, especially those who fall between traditional age groups. Reading age doesn’t always match emotional maturity etc.

The Grove Bookshop

The Grove Bookshop

Q. How do you help customers who are looking for the right book to introduce their children to reading?

A. We ask about the child’s interests, which usually gives us a good starting point.

Q.  Do you organise any children's activities at your bookshop?

A. We have had story time sessions but our children’s department is very small, so events can cause congestion and put off other children, so we tend not to do this very often.

Q.  The Ilkley Literature Festival in October is an important event in the North's calendar. How are you involved?

A. We run book stalls at all major events – last year we did over 120 during the 16 days of the Festival. This year will be rather different, as the Festival will be much reduced and will be mostly streamed.

Q.  Tell us about the book you remember most from your childhood.

A. I can remember being totally gripped by Treasure Island, caught up in the sheer adventure and suspense.

Fearless, The Story of Daphne Caruana Galizia

"I really loved it. The illustrations are lovely and it’s such a strong, important story. The theme of this year’s mini festival is Justice and Injustice, which makes this a very suitable book to have on sale.

Mike Sansbury - The Grove Bookshop

The Rocketship Bookshop

The Rocketship Bookshop

The Rocketship Bookshop

31 August 2020
5 Bridge Street, Salisbury Wiltshire SP1 2ND | Tel. 01722 237172

We interviewed Jo Boyles, who runs The Rocketship Bookshop, a specialised bookshop for children and young people. They pride themselves on offering a wide range of books for all interests and ages and have a passion for encouraging children to read for pleasure.

Q.  How did the name The Rocketship Bookshop come about?

A. My daughter will tell you it was her idea, but it was also inspired by The Kinks song 'Supersonic rocket Ship' and the film Silent Running (despite the fact that film broke my heart when I was little)

Q.  What is the most satisfying feedback you’ve received from a customer?

A. The best feedback always comes from the children themselves, we've heard from some children that our bookshop is their favourite one and it's always good to hear people compliment us on our inclusivity and range of books. Getting to know customers, whether in person or online, as they become regular customers is the most satisfying part though.

The Rocketship Bookshop

The Rocketship Bookshop

Q. How do you help customers who are looking for the right book to introduce their children to reading?

A. The best way to help children find the right book is to listen, to have a conversation and treat children with respect. It's also the best part of the job.

Q.  Tell us about the book you remember most from your childhood.

A. I've got quite a few books from childhood that made a huge impact on me. Meg and Mog, The Worst Witch, The Ghost of Thomas Kempe were very much loved by me. I have a very strong memory of reading The Clocktower Ghost by Gene Kemp, it was probably the first time I read a book to myself and I still remember the feeling of accomplishment and how moving I found the end of the book.

Fearless, The Story of Daphne Caruana Galizia

"'Fearless' is a very powerful, incredibly moving and inspiring book. I'm looking forward to sharing such a beautiful book with my customers."

Jo Boyles - The Rocketship Bookshop

The Alligator's Mouth

Margaret at The Alligator's Mouth

The Alligator's Mouth

25 August 2020
2a Church Court, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1JL | Tel. 0208 9486775

We interviewed Tony West, who runs The Alligator's Mouth along with a great team of book lovers. Their independent bookshop is in Richmond and stocks books for babies to late teens, as well as a small selection of cards and board games.

Q.  What is it that is special about The Alligator's Mouth and what it offers?

A. Between us we read a lot of children's books, old and new, and we are good at diagnosing the needs of the customer so we can put the right books for a child at the right time

Q.  How did the name The Alligator’s Mouth come about?

A. Lemony Snicket figured it out first. He said it. You will find the answer on our website.

Q.  What is the most satisfying feedback you’ve received from a customer?

A. The latest one?

Norfolk Children's Book Centre exterior

The shop exterior

Q. How do you help customers who are looking for the right book to introduce their children to reading?

A. We listen carefully to what the parent is telling us and ask a few more questions to try and figure out what we need to do. Usually we aren't needed to introduce a child to reading as such, especially if the family have some baby books. But helping them to discover a love of reading means we have to read a lot of books that are going to be the gateway into wonderland for any given child.

Q.  Do you organise any children's activities at your bookshop?

A. In a non-pandemic world there are regular readings and activities with authors and illustrators visiting. Mark runs a very popular comic club and there are regular storytimes. We are always organising author visits into schools and we also host The Alligator's Mouth Award for Illustrated Early Fiction in conjunction with the Bright Agency and Gardners.

Q.  Tell us about the book you remember most from your childhood.

A. Tony - I Can Fly by Ruth Krauss and Mary Blair. I used to think the girl was so clever (especially as a clam).

Margaret -
the Little Grey Rabbit books by Alison Uttley and Margaret Tempest.

Helen -
The Bear Who Went to the Ballet by Jean Richardson and Susan Winter. The illustrations stayed with me and considered my copy a prized possession.

Fearless, The Story of Daphne Caruana Galizia

"The book is a great example of standing up for what you believe in the face of adversity and treads lightly on the darker forces at work in the world in which we live. If you love to read about characters in storybooks who fight injustice and stand up to cruelty and wrongdoing then Daphne Caruana Galizia is someone who did it for real."

Tony West - The Alligator's Mouth Bookshop

Norfolk Children's Book Centre

A big selection of books at the Norfolk Children's Book Centre

Norfolk Children's Book Centre

15 August 2020
Church Lane, Alby, Norwich NR11 7HB | Tel. 01263 761402

We interviewed Annie Rhodes, one of the lovely people who run Norfolk Children's Book Centre. Their bookshop is a treasure trove of 60,000 children's books in the middle of rural North Norfolk.

Q.  What is it that is special about Norfolk Children's Book Centre and what it offers?

A. We welcome our customers in with friendliness, expertise (and free tea and biscuits), the time to stay and browse for as long as they like, and the freedom to pick up any book and read it. Our team are incredibly knowledgeable, and will come back to any request with an armful of books tailored to the customers desires. We are all very sad to not have re-opened to the public since lockdown, but have been busy recommending books over the phone and by email and posting out to customers all over the UK. We plan to re-open by appointment from the autumn.

Q.  What is the most satisfying feedback you’ve received from a customer?

A. The best feedback we receive is when parents tell us that their children weren't that interested in reading before visiting, but that we were able to guide them towards something they enjoyed.

Q. What is the most common question you get asked about children’s books?

A. We get a lot of specific requests from parents and teachers asking for advice for their children, of all ages and reading abilities. I would say one of the most common requests is how to get a reluctant reader into reading for pleasure. Our team are always on hand to give out friendly advice on all manner of requests; we like a challenge!

Q. How do you help customers who are looking for the right book to introduce their children to reading?

A. We always say that it is key to let children choose for themselves; anyone who has visited our shop will know it is piled high with books, and we encourage our customers to browse as widely and for as long as they would like.

We are also on hand to help with finding specific books or books on any theme, and often have too many suggestions to fit in our arms at one time! We understand it can be overwhelming seeing so many books and not knowing where to start, so we are always happy to help with picking out suitable suggestions.

Norfolk Children's Book Centre exterior

The shop exterior

Q.  Do you organise any children's activities at your bookshop?

A. Given current circumstances, we aren't planning to organise any events in the foreseeable future, but we have a history of working with schools local and nationwide to bring lots of brilliant authors and illustrators into the shop and schools. As you will see from our walls, we have had a lot of famous authors in to sign and doodle all over the walls!

Q.  I see you also work with schools and libraries. What is it you offer them?

A. We offer a wide range of support to schools and school libraries, and have continued to supply schools throughout lockdown. We have been into 7 schools (and counting!) to rejuvenate their libraries this summer; we help weed through old stock, create or recreate a library space and fill it with beautiful new books, all labelled and jacketed and Dewey-classified to library standard.

Another of our most popular services is our approval service to teachers and schools. If you have a particular subject, topic or any other request, we can select a collection of wonderful books (based on your budget) and deliver these to your school free of charge for you to browse. If you would like to keep some of the books, we will collect the rest and invoice the school for the ones kept. We are here for teachers for any of their book needs, and we are happy to help with class sets, lists of books and quotations.

We are hoping to be able to go back into schools to deliver our brilliant book fairs, depending on health and safety guidelines, in the autumn. We also offer 10% on all school book orders.

Fearless, The Story of Daphne Caruana Galizia

"Fearless looks like a beautifully-illustrated narrative non-fiction book on an interesting and previously little-known about subject in modern history. The subject is very sensitively portrayed for children and we are excited to order this book in from our wonderful Bounce rep soon."

Annie Rhodes - Norfolk Children's Book Centre

Chicken and Frog bookshop

Natasha Radford at Chicken and Frog Bookshop

Chicken and Frog Bookshop

13 August 2020
30 Crown Street, Brentwood, Essex CM14 4BA | Tel. 01277 230068

We interviewed Natasha Radford, co-owner with husband Jim of the independent children's bookshop Chicken and Frog. Not only do they stock a wide range of beautiful books, they also put on events throughout the year, in-store and also in schools. They've now adapted some of their events so that people can access them online for free.

Q.  How did the name Chicken and Frog come about?

A. Ready for a ‘dad’ joke?
A chicken and a frog walk into a bookshop.
The chicken says “Book, book, book!”
And the frog says “Read-it, read-it, read-it!”

Q. What's the most common question adults ask when looking for a children's book?

A. Usually, it’s about how to move children on from a particular series or author.

Q. What is the most satisfying feedback you’ve received from a customer?

A. Oh, that’s a hard one. When someone comes back after a recommendation, to choose a new book because they loved what we have suggested. If we can match the perfect book to the reader, then we have done our job!

Q. How do you help customers who are looking for the right book to introduce their children to reading?

A. We try to engage with the child as much as possible, finding out what they are interested in generally. Choosing books is a very personal thing, so we always endeavour to take the time getting to know the reader.

Chicken and Frog bookshop

The shop

Q.  Do you organise any children's activities at your bookshop?

A. Yes. We have story time twice weekly – usually it’s in the shop, but at the moment it’s online. This is a free event, which is extremely popular. Before lockdown, we were providing a monthly sensory story time too, which we are hoping to bring back soon. We run two book clubs – one for 8 years plus and the other for adults, who love children’s books. Microsoft run sessions for us, during the holidays, focusing mainly on coding.

And then there are author/illustrator events, either online at present, or outside in our beautiful pedestrianised street. These vary in format, from workshops to Q and A sessions.

We work closely with other businesses too, to put on community events throughout the year – especially during the school holidays. For example, a Santa Hunt which runs through the Christmas break. And we host two grottos – one for the public and one for children with sensory needs.

The other strand of our business is a tuition centre, as I was a school teacher in my former life! We teach English and maths, from years 1 to 11. Lessons are taught in-house in normal times, although we are using the wonders of Zoom until September.

Q.  Tell us about the book you remember most from your childhood.

A. I was always read to and told stories as a child. My Great Grandmother used to tell us about her life in Russia, before moving to Canada and later England. Those stories have stuck with me.

In terms of books though, A.A.Milne’s ‘When We Were Very Young’ and Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ were firm favourites and still are. In fact, I have a collection of Alice, which has reached just shy of 230 copies. It’s a bit of an obsession.

Fearless, The Story of Daphne Caruana Galizia

"The first thing that strikes you about this book is the clever use of colour, with Daphne being highlighted in brighter colours from the beginning. It is an incredibly moving story and one that I believe should be shared worldwide. Daphne’s courage shines through – she was and is still an inspirational woman."

Natasha Radford - Chicken and Frog Bookshop

Twitter iconTwitter icon