Celebrating 250 years of bookselling is the fabulous Hodges Figgis both in Dublin and London. Founded in 1768, it is given a passing mention in James Joyce’s modernist novel Ulysees. Excited to step into any book store, I am particularly curious and in a hurry to see the children’s sections. Up the spiral staircases are treasures in Picadilly with Peppa Pig visits London, Winnie the Pooh classics, Gruffalo, Paddington Bear, Quentin Blake and poetry to send you crazy. It’s a world I love – the magic, imagination and creativity of story tellers.
Everything in Waterstones is well set out with display titles on each table. Clear headings. Easy walking space. Roomy atmosphere and children browsing the shelves. I spoke to one father who brought his 11 year old son in for his birthday book party with three friends who could buy 2 books for a gift. What a treat for them. No washing up or cleaning later. A fun thing to do and the kids choose what they like.
I happened to be there for the surprise visit of the Hungry Caterpillar. I couldn’t miss that experience!
Daunt Books for Travellers is superb. It’s “the most beautiful book shop in London – designed for travellers who like reading.” ( Daily Telegraph) Opened Monday to Saturday 9.00am – 7.30pm and Sunday 11.00am -6.00pm. It’s located in the Marylebone High Street.
The heart of the Daunt book shop is an original Edwardian book shop with long oak galleries and graceful skylights. Its soul is the unique arrangement of books by country – where guides, novels and non-fiction of all kinds will interest traveller and browser alike.
Upstairs the climb to the children’s section is worth it. Natural light filters through the windows. There are categories easily detected – ages 5-7 years, teens, poetry, atlases etc.
Above book is by Italian illustrator Beatrice Alemagna who I saw at the Bologna Book Fair. The picture books were exquisite and prices similar to Australia.
Who cannot resist reading to a child The Tiger who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr or the Mog the cat series. The Moomins and the Great Flood was the original Moomin story, published in Finland in 1945.
Waterstones is spread out over three floors in Trafalgar, with book signings, views of the famous Square and everything from Cookery, gardening, politics, popular sciences to children’s. Hatchards in Piccadilly was beautifully designed and excellent customer service.
A trip to London is finding Foyles Book store. It’s an award winning independent book store with millions of titles. There’s a chain of 7 stores in England.
From Madeline in London, The Railway Children, Goodnight Mister Tom, The Ice Monster, Dickens, to Bloomsbury Publishing and Walker book titles, there’s something to suit everyone. At Hatchards, the young man I spoke to said, “it’s the uncles, aunts and grandparents who buy the books. So upstairs it’s fairly tidy.”
I do admit to buying a few books and sending them home. I am now the proud owner of The Moon Spun Round – W.B Yeats poems for children, Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson, The President’s Glasses and The President’s Cats by Peter Donnelly and Michael Rosen’s Centrally Heated Knickers ( poems)
Long live books!