For the children
Two new children’s bookstores north and west of Boston are betting on the magic of the real world, the one with story times and books you can hold in your hands. The owners of Wit and Whimsy in Marblehead and the Elephant’s Trunk in Lexington are busy establishing their shops as cozy gathering places for the underage set, from infants to teens.
“We want people to come and stay awhile,” said Nancy Oliver, owner of Wit and Whimsy. Her daughters, Emma, 15, and Sarah, 13, are key partners in the endeavor, especially in recommending young-adult titles. Emma recently taught a class in origami, and she dressed up as Elmo for a story time celebrating his birthday.
Oliver, a longtime resident of Marblehead, was a corporate trainer for 20 years before opening the shop at 60 Atlantic Ave. in December. She hopes to attract customers not only through a well-curated selection of books but through a robust calendar of events celebrating birthdays (Laura Ingalls Wilder’s was among the first), milestones (the 100th day of the school year), and other occasions.
Danielle Kreger, proprietor of the Elephant’s Trunk in the heart of Lexington center, is taking a similar tack. Her store, open since December, is hosting story times three mornings a week, and Kreger is lining up authors for store visits. She is no newbie, having earned a master’s in children’s literature from Simmons College and worked as a school librarian in Boston and a children’s book buyer at Newtonville Books in Newton.
The name of her shop at 1764 Massachusetts Ave. pays homage to the many elephants in children’s books. Not only has it struck a chord with the pint-sized set, but artists have responded as well. Kreger is devoting a wall to their renderings of elephants.
So many adults have expressed an interest in having a section of their own that Kreger has filled one bookcase with paperback novels and nonfiction. With any luck, her responsiveness to customers may help the Elephant’s Trunk avoid the fate of two nearby bookstores that closed in recent years.
Black poets “A Century of Black Voices: 1911-2011” aims to inspire the next generation as 10 black poets will read the work of a favorite poet from the past. The readings will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at First Church in Cambridge, 11 Garden St. Mignon Ariel King and Charles Coe are the co-hosts. Featured poets include Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Amiri Baraka, Alice Walker, and Sterling Brown.
Coming out ■ ”Quirk: Brain Science Makes Sense of Your Peculiar Personality” by Hannah Holmes (Random House)
■“Paris Was Ours: Thirty-Two Writers Reflect on the City of Light” edited by Penelope Rowlands (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill)
■“Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People” by Edward M. Hallowell (Harvard Business Review)
Pick of the week James McGrath Morris, author of “Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power,” recommends “The Passages of H.M.: A Novel of Herman Melville” by Jay Parini (Doubleday): “One can’t close Parini’s newest novel any more than one can put the lid back on a box of tempting chocolates (the really good kind, without the gooey centers). It is filled with paragraphs so delicious that I was compelled to re-read them for pleasure and wrapped in a multi-layered plot that would have impressed even the likes of Melville. As a biographer I have always looked askance at bio-fiction. In Parini’s hands it is an elevated art form.’’
Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com.