Saturday, 2 December 2017

WHAT'S IN THE SHOPS – Dianne Hofmeyr

The Natural History Museum London

It's that time of the year when temperatures suddenly plummet and the late afternoons are dark and twinkly and shop windows glow and beckon. Time to see what local bookshops are recommending. And time to get behind the hashtag #PictureBooksforGifts.

First stop South Kensington Books with its window full of Christmas books and a celebration of Paddington Bear. 

Then on to Daunt Book Shop in the Fulham Road where a very large window was crammed full of children's books... needing three pics to show them all. 

In comparison Daunt in Marylebone doesn’t have much window space but they created a charming corner cornucopia of children’s books. I found Jane Ray’s Cinderella with her skirt in the air. (lower left behind ribbon) But the window was too tightly packed for the assistant to put her right. 

However inside the shop on the main Christmas stand, Cinderella was in her normal upright position alongside her Nutcracker. And Jackie Morris’s and James Mayhew’s Mrs Noah’s Pockets was definitely in evidence. The Glassmaker’s Daughter not so! But I persuaded the charming shop assistant that a single book on a lower shelf around the corner near the floor with spine out, wasn’t giving my girl much of a Christmas outing. So she was perched next to Jane’s other books with the promise that she might have her single moment of glory. It’s depressing to find only a single copy of a new book in a store! And even more depressing to find it hidden! But I suppose better than not finding the book at all!

A bit further afield in Long Acre Covent Garden is Stanfords Travel Bookshop. True to the nature of the shop, its windows sported globes. Who doesn't love a globe and inside the shop there were even small globes as Christmas tree baubles. And inside too were stacks of Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris's Lost Words. In the window Oliver Jeffers Here We Are was showing up well.

Then on to Hatchards in Piccadilly. A small but full window and more Lost Words. And inside the shop a lovely surprise of a book, Lyle the Crocodile, from South Africa by two friends...  author Dianne Stewart and illustrtaor Joan Rankin.

I suppose one can’t talk about bookshop windows without mentioning a certain bookshop. Waterstones King’s Road is dismissed immediately because they have demoted their children’s window from a large front window to a side street. If Christmas is not about giving books to children then they don’t deserve a place here. 

Waterstones on Piccadilly on the other hand had gone all out to devote the entire long, long window on the right of their entrance to children’s books except the books were all from one author and illustrator team. I wonder how much was paid by the publisher for such exposure? These pics don't do justice to the immensity of the display. Perhaps the size of the books will put the cut-outs in proportion.

A notice in the back of the window stating they had a HUGE 2nd floor Department crammed with children’s books, rang a bit hollow.  

Jane Ray’s beautifully painted Christmas window for Pickled Pepper Books complete with gondola transporting a Christmas tree for The Glassmaker’s Daughter looks amazing from outside as well as from inside the shop as it the afternoon darkens but it doesn't quite snow. 

Lastly... sorry a bit of promo and not exactly a shop window, but a banner outside Omnibus Theatre celebrating their Christmas show Zeraffa Giraffa which is on until 17th Dec. A roaming Vox Pop video interviewing the children after the play last Sunday, showed that a giraffe can steal the hearts of modern day children as easily as it did the hearts of the people of Paris in 1827. 

Good cheer for the festive season! I hope all your own local bookshops are crammed full of children's books.

twitter: @dihofmeyr

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