After a much-needed stop for refreshments we continued our Independent Bookstore Day 2016 festivities, and traveled across Lake Washington to Mercer Island’s Island Books. What a fun store! Bigger than our first two stops combined, and yet still only about half of the size of your average chain bookstore. Island Books sports style, sophistication, and fun…but with an earthy island twist. Furthermore, the store has a refreshing sense of whimsy that can be seen best in the selection of gifts and stationaries located in the middle of the store – almost as if to offer a gentle reprieve before plunging on into more books. Still waiting for my lunch to reach my brain, I focused my attentions less on perusing the adult selections and more on helping the children in their searches. However, the selection of books in this room was so awesome, I am certain I would have ended up spending most of my time there even if I hadn’t come with a gaggle of children.
Located in the back of the store, the children’s room is built on multiple levels and brags a huge playhouse right in the center of it. From classics to picture books the selection is varied and caters to a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. I even must admit to being impressed, no matter how begrudgingly, with the selection of toys and stuffed animals available. Usually, I am not a fan. However, while perusing, we managed to score an amazing circuit building game for our budding engineer (who is all of 6). Furthermore, while I did not buy one, the store also had a variety of stuffed dragons, for which I have a particular fondness.
Finally, I have to say that I was also quite impressed with the staff in the children’s area. Not only was this woman pleasant and well read, but she was also comfortable with children and all of the multitude of questions, request and boisterousness that comes with them. This has not always been my experience with children’s booksellers. All to often, I have found people with excellent taste in children’s books, but with no stomach for actual children.
As part of the Independent Bookstore Festivities Island books was allowing visitors to select a free copy of an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy), free cookies which were emblazoned with the Independent Bookstore Day logo, a community art project, a scavenger hunt, a handful of old typewriters on which to pound out prose, and chances to win a discount by rolling doubles on a pair of dice when one checked out.