After visiting Every Picture Tells a Story last week, we continue on our tour of local independent children’s bookstores. Following the recommendation of several parents, Dash, Zora and Addison visited Children’s Book World. The store occupies three rooms, and its shelves were bursting with books on subjects Santa Monica moms would like, such as yoga, multicultural folk tales, gardening, and how to get your kids into the best private schools. One room was devoted to young adult books, but there was still plenty of space for the picture books, board books, and children’s non-fiction section.
But, unless your children are freak-of-nature quiet and Clockwork Orange-obedient, leave them at home. When we first walked in the door, Dash and Zora were drawn to the colorful, oversized picture books. A clerk immediately swooped down upon us, chastising me for not reading the sign that said only adults could handle the large books. In my defense, the sign was very faded and completely unexpected. As we browsed the store, a clerk hovered nearby with her eagle eyes trained on us to make sure my little vandals stayed in line.
It wasn’t just the Raders earning the ire of the staff. They asked some older children not to touch the puppets because “they were going home with someone.” Alisandra was a bit unnerved when Addison reached for one of the puppets. Would they reprimand an 18-month-old baby? She quickly whisked her away, not anxious to find out.
They did have a felt board and a box of ratty old toys that the kids could touch. If we are deciding whether to buy a book or toy, however, we want to see how our children interact with it. With an overseas trip coming up fast, Alisandra was desperate to find things to occupy all (or a least some of) those long hours on a plane. She wanted Addison to look at things to see which she might be drawn to. Instead of books, Alisandra took the advice of another parent and, in addition to the ubiquitous Dora coloring books, Nemo invisible ink kits, and DK sticker books, she found a terrific unstructured Herve Tullet coloring book and a play scene of the circus with re-usable vinyl stickers.
There were several books that looked interesting to me, but I was afraid to have the children look at them after our surveillance by the book police. The kids know I usually have a soft spot for books. I can easily say no way to toys or treats, but if it has pages and a cover, it’s yours. However, we walked out of there with only two small coloring books.
We felt like Snoopy — “No Kids Allowed.” I realize that my kids have the energies, as Dash likes to say, but sheez, they’ve forgotten the children in Children’s Book World. How could a children’s bookstore not enjoy kids who love books so much? In summary, the store is a great place to go alone and pick out a gift.
Diesel Bookstore in the Brentwood Country Mart also has a teeny, tiny children’s book section. The small space allows me to keep an easy eye on my munchkins while I browse the interesting selections set out for adults. It is amazing how many books they do manage to squash into their shelves. Although it doesn’t warrant an independent trip, it is a fun addition to an afternoon spent at the Country Mart.
Hi De Ho Comics seems like a hangout for teenagers and middle-aged men who never grew up, but they do have some fun things for kids. Dash goes crazy for the comic book hero T-shirts, which are way less expensive than those in mainstream stores. Some of the comic books are aimed at a younger audience, such as Disney, “The Simpsons” and “Batman the Brave and the Bold” (from the Cartoon Network show if you’ve been hiding under a rock that’s free from superhero mania the last couple of years). They also have a few comic book hero toys, oh, excuse me, “collectible figurines.” Rob and Dash enjoy hanging out there together while Zora and I visit the nearby library.
For an independent alternative to Amazon for online book shopping try www.powells.com. Located in Portland, Ore., Powell’s main store occupies almost an entire city block and is possibly the coolest place on Earth. The rooms are color coded in case you get lost, and the helpful booksellers can provide you with a map. Powell’s Web site also offers used books and staff recommendations.
• Children’s Book World is located at 10580 W. Pico Blvd. Parking is available behind the building. www.childrensbookworld.com.
• Hi De Ho Comics and Books with Pictures is located at 525 Santa Monica Blvd. Hidehocomics.com.
• Diesel Bookstore is in the Brentwood Country Mart at 225 26th St. www.dieselbookstore.com.
Find a calendar with local events, helpful links, and more adventures of Addison, Zora, and Dash at smatoz.blogspot.com.