We all fret about the future of small, independent retail establishments these days, while lamenting the proliferation of the big, impersonal chain stores. Well, in the past few days, I've had heart-warming experiences at both:
I'm lucky enough to have the world's best children's bookstore just a few blocks from my house. Hicklebee's is, quite simply, a treasure. Do you remember the charming children's bookstore in the movie, "You've Got Mail"? Hicklebee's is just that wonderful. The owners, Valerie Lewis and her sister Monica Holmes, are quite well-known in the world of children's books. On the walls throughout the shop, one finds amazing items which make up the Hicklebee's "Museum": artifacts and original illustrations given to the shop by the most well-known authors and illustrators. (I've met people like Tomie dePaola and J.K. Rowling at Hicklebee's events.) This magical shop was a big part of my kids' childhoods, so when I buy children's books, I head over there.
A Seed is Sleepy at Hicklebee's last week, I ordered a copy of An Egg is Quiet, and stopped by today to pick it up. I got to chatting with the woman who was helping me, telling her I liked to draw things from nature and that I was madly in love with Sylvia Long's illustrations in these books. She smiled and ducked into the back room and brought out this beautiful poster from the publisher featuring the author's next book, A Butterfly is Patient, and said "You can keep this." Isn't it gorgeous? So unbelievably nice.
Now, before last Saturday, I would have confidently crowed, "I know that would never happen at the big chain stores!" But, here's heart-warming experience number two:
You all know how much I love "The Fabulous Beekman Boys". (If you need a reminder, click here and here.) On Saturday, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge were speaking about heirloom vegetable gardening and signing Josh's book The Bucolic Plague at Williams-Sonoma in San Francisco, and there was no way that I was going to miss it. I wasn't disappointed: Josh and Brent were absolutely charming, and unbelievably gracious. They chatted and answered questions of all sorts, and it felt like an afternoon spent with old friends. Then, it came time for the book signing. I had brought prints of my Beekman soap drawings to give to the guys, but, I warned my husband, "Those Williams-Sonoma people will probably herd us in like cattle and whisk us through in an assembly line." I couldn't have been more wrong.
Aaron, one of the culinary experts at W-S, wove through the line and served us delicious shortbread cookies (a Beekman recipe) that he had baked himself. As we got to the front, the W-S staff set up each person's book to be personally signed (some authors have stopped personalizing at these things and only sign their names), and genially introduced each
As I'd expected, those Fabulous Beekman Boys really are fabulous, but so is, surprisingly, Williams-Sonoma.
|My favorite page spread from An Egg Is Quiet|