Brilliant Bookshops

Brilliant Bookshop: Button and Bear, Shrewsbury

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Today, I walked straight into bookshop heaven! Button and Bear in Shrewsbury is a magical place, dedicated entirely to children’s books- and it should be on everyone’s ‘places I must visit’ list!

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This family-owned bookshop offers a fabulous range of book-ish delights from first reading experiences to young adult reads. Light, spacious and welcoming, the shop maximises its space whilst remaining clam and uncluttered.

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On the right hand side wall is a wonderfully tempting display of fiction, non-fiction and picture books, begging to be admired and read. It was so easy to browse these and locate many favourites as well as some new treasures.

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Small display tables are scattered around the shop, focusing attention on particular authors, illustrators or themes. This one proudly displayed signed copies of Nevermoor and Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend who visited yesterday. There were other signs indicating the shop has a busy author event programme as well- pictures drawn by Chris Riddell and Tony Ross hang proudly on the wall and there were other signed books on offer too.

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The shop was made even more special by the wonderfully warm, friendly welcome I received. Every question I asked was answered with great enthusiasm and knowledge. The lady I spoke to (I’m so sorry I didn’t ask her name!) even emailed her mum to ask for suggestions of books I might like to read. They even had a section for wordless picture books- not something I always find!

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Whilst we were talking, story time was taking place in the Woodland Room beneath the shop. This lovely area is reached by going down stairs lined with trees- a pushchair park is conveniently located just at the top of the stairs. It is such a delightful space and obviously very well used. Parents and children who were leaving had obviously had a wonderful time and were browsing the books before leaving.

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If I ever fulfil my dream of owning a children’s bookshop, it would be one just like this! Button and Bear is just lovely and I will be visiting again soon.

You can find out more on their website.

Half Term Book Crawl!

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This week, I have been on a quest to seek out some of the best books on offer for this year’s North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards 2019. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it! Although I wasn’t able to visit as many as I’d hoped due to other things getting in the way, I managed to visit some in London, Bath, Bristol and Taunton.

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It’s always a pleasure to pop in to Waterstones Picadilly and have a browse in the children’s section. I love the way it is laid out and the displays they have. I found some great non-fiction ideas here as well as some suggestions for our Read Aloud category.

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Close by is Hatchards- delightfully charming with its old-fashioned air and quiet rooms- another favourite for spending some time. I spent quite a while sitting in their children’s room, exploring a large pile of treasures. Found some wonderful picture books here!

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Although not a bookshop and alarmingly changed since I used to visit as a child, I must include this picture of Paddington I took when I popped into Hamleys as it made me very happy!

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Foyles on the Southbank was a veritable cornucopia of book-ish delight for many categories. Once again, there was lots of wonderful non-fiction and I chose a few books which I think will work really well as Quality Fiction candidates.

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Foyles in Bristol was equally interesting and offered some additional finds. (This picture was taken a while ago as I forgot to take a photo whilst there!)

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Bath offers the triple joy of Waterstones, Mr B’s and Toppings.

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All three produced some great ideas, but poetry remains the hardest category to find a wide selection of ideas for. Still, we will continue searching!

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Visiting Mr B’s was a particular delight this time as they have extended and now have their new children’s room which is a wonderful space, well worth a visit.

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Finally, I visited the stalls at Reading Rocks on Saturday. Book Island were there with their usual fabulous selection of very original and beautiful picture books. Bookwagon had a stall there with lots of lovely books, many translated or by authors/ illustrators from other countries. The main bookshop was provided by The Roving Bookshop whose range never ceases to amaze me. I found some real treasures, not necessarily for the awards, but wonderful books it’s hard to get hold of now! I think we need a new award’s category to pay tribute to these!

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So, lots of lovely new books ready for consideration, but many more still to discover! Let’s get reading!

Brilliant Bookshops: Winstone's, Sidmouth, Devon

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On the High Street of the pretty seaside town of Sidmouth, you will find Winstone's Bookshop. Very much at the heart of the town, a constant stream of customers flowed through its doors whilst I was there, visitors exclaiming in delight at the range of books on offer, locals heading straight for their favourite sections. But tourist or resident, everyone was greeted warmly and made to feel welcome.

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Selling a wonderful range of both adult and children's books, the shop is light and the space is well laid out, offering a balance between there being something new to look at at every turn and there being enough space to move round the shop comfortably!

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A wonderful selection of Asterix and Tintin books sit proudly with a range of graphic novels. Tintin is obviously a favourite in store as there is also a tempting range of bags in different colours featuring him and Snowy scattered around the shop! Very hard to resist! (I didn't!)

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The 'latest' titles are on offer, but there is a good balance with older titles as well. It was particularly pleasing to notice that certain shelves weren't dominated by the complete works of some authors to the exclusion of others.

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The young man behind the counter was extremely helpful, polite and knowledgeable and we had a very interesting conversation about his passion for fiction in translation and he offered some recommendations- just the sort of person you wish to find in a bookshop. Whilst I was in the shop, he answered lots of queries and made suggestions to those in need.

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With shops in Sherborne (Dorset) and Frome (Somerset- see our Brilliant Bookshop post here), the South West is lucky to have these brilliant bookshops in their midst. 

Winstone's, 10, High Street, Sidmouth, Devon

Visit their website here.