By James Bash
For the Hollywood Star News
“When my kids come in, they are on the floor and looking at a book within the first two minutes,” said Katy Fackler about A Children’s Place Bookstore. “They know everyone who works there and are really excited to see them. It’s a very family like atmosphere.”
Fackler’s unbridled enthusiasm for A Children’s Place Bookstore is well-founded. She has been a regular customer at the bookstore for the past 16 years. She admits to frequenting the store even before she had her own kids (her daughter is now eight years old and her son five).
“I like it that the store is close to where I live,” added Fackler. “We are in the bookstore two or three times a week. For a lot of people in my neighborhood, it’s an extension of their living room. Chances are if my daughter goes into the store on a Wednesday afternoon, she’ll find a classmate on the floor reading a book.”
On Saturday, May 10, the Fackler family will find a whole bunch of folks perusing the literature at ACPB. They will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of this unique bookstore, which is located at 4807 N.E. Fremont St.
“It’s going to be an exciting day,” exclaimed owner Pam Lewis of the anniversary. “Neighborhood businesses on Fremont will be celebrating with us. The Alameda Brewhouse next door is crafting a special beer for us called Harry Porter. Grand Central is going to do a sandwich, Pip’s is going to create donut, and Bagel Land will have a special bagel. We are going to have local authors, contests and refreshments, too. It will be a blast!”
Lewis has every reason to be ebullient. She worked at the store before purchasing it in 2003 from Lynn Kelly and Jan Bruton, the original owners who moved the store from its first location on Northeast Broadway to its current one on Fremont Street. With pluck and business savvy, Lewis has been able to expand the store in spite of competition from internet giants and portable reading devices like Kindle and Nook.
“We have very dedicated customers,” explained Lewis. “Occasionally, someone might mention Amazon or Kindle, but in general, no one talks about it. People come here because of the service that we offer. Plus we have Kira Porton, who came with the store when I bought it eleven years ago. She knows everything about children’s literature.”
No foolin’. Porton has an encyclopedic mind when it comes to kids’ books and a passion for the subject that borders on astonishing. You can pose a question for young adults, pre-teen or toddlers. It doesn’t matter. Porton loves to work with you and figure out just what you need. Heck, I don’t have any kids but was happy to purchase two terrific picture books that she recommended: He Came with the Couch by David Slonim and Are You a Horse? by Andy Rash.
“We have many books that will never be on a national best seller list but have sold well at independent bookstores,” remarked Porton.
Porton advocated Jenny Offill’s new picture book about a sloth entitled Sparky! For middle-grade readers, she praised The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson, and for young adults, she suggested The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski.
An excellent standby for pre-teens is Half Magic by Edward Eager and his Magic series; and for young adults, there’s always J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
The store has a lot of signage to guide you to various topics, such as art, science and languages, but you will be cautioned against following that too closely, because much of the shelving is mounted on wheels.
“We change things around all the time,” noted Lewis.
“We want to make sure that people are paying attention!” Porton said, laughing.
The mobile shelves have allowed the store to host tea parties and even the youth orchestra from the Metropolitan Youth Symphony. There’s a stage in one corner where authors can come and read. It is also the setting for the popular Story Time readings that Anne Pearson gives every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. The stage is also the location for a new musical program called Micah and Me, which takes place Fridays at 10:30 a.m.
“We’ve become a destination for many folks,” said Lewis, “but people are always discovering us. So we make new friends all the time.”
40 Years of Stories: A Children’s Place Bookstore 40th anniversary celebration
When: Saturday, May 10. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: 4807 N.E. Fremont St.
Activities: Local children’s authors and illustrators throughout the day. Authors include Eric Kimmel, Bart King, and Virginia Euwer Wolff.
20 percent off of these local authors’ titles. Tentative author reading times (the final schedule will be posted on the store’s website, achildrensplacebookstore.com):
10 a.m.-noon: Susan Fletcher
10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Virginia Euwer Wolff
Noon- 2 p.m.: Deborah Hopkinson, Bart King, Roseanne Perry
2 p.m.-4 p.m.: Matthew Holm
Carmen Bernier Grand (Time TBA) Eric Kimmel (Time TBA)
Nearby businesses participating in the event will hang a red balloon outside.
Create-a Bookmark Contest. Winning bookmarks from local schools will be printed and used throughout the year.