We are pleased to present a regular series highlighting the work, expertise and enthusiasm of some of the greatest children's booksellers of New Zealand. Here's Books for Kids in Hamilton.
This delightful little independent children's boutique bookshop humbly began 48 years ago out of one of the first owners, Anne Healey's, home garage. Since then it has had seven 'custodians' and been relocated to several little old shops along Peachgrove Road. It has resided in its present position amongst the Hamilton East Shopping Strip on Grey Street, for the past ten years or so.
Books For Kids has been a well-kept secret among the dedicated customers invested in children's books, be it educators, parents, grandparents or the children themselves. Every day, as well as the regulars, new customers walk in, fall in love with the collection and claim they never knew it was there! So hopefully, the word keeps spreading and the Facebook followers keep growing! All of the owners, including the current one, have come from a teaching background and that is a point of difference in the expert service they provide customers.
What are you recommending this month?
Where does one begin? I am a huge fan of sophisticated and quirky picture books where the illustration make the readers think.
At present, I am in love with French authors Eric Veille and Clothilde Perrin who are touring New Zealand in May. My favourite is Inside the Villains, closely followed by The Encyclopedia of Grannies and My Pictures after the Storm (all Gecko Press). Make sure you get to see them somewhere in your local area and get a signed copy!
Also hot are the Granny McFlitter books full of beautifully rhythmic text and adorned with heavenly illustrations.
And a new New Zealand author, Amy Harrop, with her recently released There's a Hedgehog in My Pants! Love the New Zealand take on life!
What new releases are you looking forward to over the next few months?
I cannot wait for Chris Mousdale's debut junior novel A Place of Stone and Darkness coming 7 May. Wow, is all I can say! It's a big thick hardback full of strange critters who exist in secret labyrinths of caves and tunnels underground, unbeknown to the Toppers who have decimated their own world Uptop. It is full of action and adventure, curiosity and dilemma, good and evil, enhanced by intricate diagrams and maps. Watch out - it will steal your heart.
The other new children's novel that I have fallen in love with is Malamander by Thomas Taylor, released late April. Another delicious fantasy with a scary but misunderstood sea monster who lurks menancingly about the misty piers of Eerie-On-Sea. Again, the maps add so much to the plot!
What do you wish was selling better?
We have a terrific selection of Te Reo Māori books for children, which has mushroomed in the last 12 months and are slowly being picked up by invested customers. So good to see the publishers getting behind literature to help our Māori culture flourish.
Share a nice story you have about matching a book to a customer/reader!
There are many customers who come in wanting another book like the previous one recommended, but one particular customer Kirsten, badly wanted to find a series for Connie, her preteen daughter, so that she could start loving books like her mum. Erin Hunter's Warriors hit the spot, and now Mum and daughter are regulars and there is an understanding that I have the next three in the series ready for her to pick up at any time!.
What do you wish publishers would publish?
I can't tell you how many requests we get for out-of-print New Zealand published books - fiction and non-fiction. Once they are out of print, they vanish and they are like gold when you find them. It is such a pity that many well-loved books not reprinted. Please publishers, reprint our New Zealand children's books!
Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
We always love seeing authors come into the shop and so far we have hosted Heather Haylock, Dawn MacMillan, Nikki Slade Robinson, Deb Hinde, Eileen Merriman, Maria Gill, Fifi Colston, Keri Opai.
Coming up soon:
Saturday May 4, Amy Harrop is visiting to read her new book, There's a Hedgehog in My Pants.
Monday May 6, Gareth Ward will be popping by to promote the sequel to The Traitor and the Thief with a bit of magic and a steampunk dress-up competition.
Tuesday, May 7, I will be supporting French author Eric Veille at the Chartwell Library and later at the Ramp Gallery at Wintec, where he will be interviewed by Picture Book Guru, Dr Nicola Daly.
A big thank you to our loyal customers who profess never to shop anywhere else - shop local and indie! Couldn't survive without them x.
Books for Kids
310 Grey Street
Tel: (07) 856 8274