The first time The Emma Press told me that we were going to do some children bookshop stops in our book tour, I was thrilled. I love being in bookstores, and you can find me lurking around - hopefully not too suspiciously - in the children area of bookstores. But when I'm in a children bookstore, I couldn't really control the nerves on my cheeks. I will always be on constant grin. And you should have seen me on that day when I was stopping by at Moon Lane Ink.
First, just to lay it out there, I love how dreamy the name sounds: Moon Lane. I talked to Meera who welcomed me and showed me around. She told me that the bookstores is the second initiative that came out of another children bookstore at the other South East part of London. That first bookstore was located at Moon Lane Road. My heart bursted into pieces of confetti just hearing that story.
Now, the Moon Lane Ink was quite new, it's been in the Catford area for the past two years and had been at the center of its community, providing books and literature activities for its area. (They took part in the Lewisham Schools' Festival of Fun this year by doing a reading festival for the event.)
Its light blue/turqoise two storeys store was not too bright but sure enough gave a tad of colour and 'come in we have something good for you here' vibe. Yes, you would be right to guess that I had my smile generated from seeing the building from across the road. Its two big windows gave me a peek of the fun that the indoor offereed. But not before I enjoyed seeing my name on their "today's event" announcement board out front.
Entering the store, I took a minute just to grasp everything in. Right in front of me was a table filled with Usborne's books and right at its back, a cozy sofa and a screen showing pictures of the store. It's like the corner I've always wanted in my room! A place to sit back and talk when my friends were visiting, and watch some movies at nights.
The place is filled with all the books that any children could have wanted. You name a book, and I'm pretty sure they have one here. This was enough for my excitement. But what could I do but to shriek with joy when I took a right at the entrance and saw a merry-go-round themed table holding stories merchandises: stuffed Gruffalos, teddy bears, and ducks, the monkeys you've always seen in the books you've read -- and ontop of it all, an actual horse-ride perfecting the already magnificent display.
I conducted my storytelling session upstairs in a room with pillows and chairs; where I ask if it's alright if I read it while sitting on the floor together with my little audiences. It was my first event, so I was indeed a bit nervous. But you'd know if your story works by the energy that your audience imparted back to you. Halfway through the session, I was talking about their favourite umbrellas and we were counting the ones on that one page in the book together -- and then, we started drawing the duck scene at the pond together. This initial interaction laid a great foundation to my coming storytelling sessions. I am so grateful of my first audience.
After the talk, I spent sometime again at the store. Just touching some books, picking the ones I love, and hearing Meera talking with the customers - all lived in the surrounding areas. I love listening to bookstore staffs giving recommendations and talking about the local coffeeshop place that they visit. Meera asked if I could stay long enough to draw something on their illustration wall - and I awkwardly nod, because I've passed the wall where they did it. It's a wall of the narrow stair's hall going to the second floor, and I've spotted Chris Riddell and Ed Vere's illustrations. So, I did my thing: a scratchy of Kira, Ilo, and Anna, embedded and over looking Riddell and Vere's.
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