In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Northwest reading tour

Dear Aunt Debbie,

What a pleasure it was to see you and so much of our extended family for not one but two weddings of cousins this month! It rivaled our wedding summer of four years ago. While our travels have kept us from blogging, they didn't stop us from reading, and the trip to Seattle, WA and Portland, OR provided us with access to a few truly great bookstores. Eleanor read a number of books on the Kindle, but we all stocked up on real true books as well -- we just can't help ourselves.

Our first stop in Seattle was Arundel Books, a small independent store selling new, used, and rare books where I worked for a year in my early 20's. The store has moved to Pioneer Square since I worked there, but the profusion of excellent titles and overflowing shelves is the same. Phil Bevis, my former boss, is thriving, both as a bookseller and as an editor and printer of truly beautiful books. Eleanor introduced herself to him by announcing, quite seriously, "Reading is my life." He responded, "Mine, too."

Nestled in by the shelves, Aunt Grace read Dr. Seuss to Isabel while Eleanor started Ella Enchanted and I caught up with Phil. When we left, he told each girl to pick out a book as a gift. To Eleanor: "You've read that much just sitting here? You'd better take two."

On our last morning in Seattle, Jeff and I headed to Capitol Hill with Isabel to visit more of my old haunts. My all-time-favorite Seattle bookstore (excepting Arundel, of course) moved to the neighborhood a few years ago. The Elliot Bay Book Company is a large, gorgeous, well-tended store with lots of staff picks displayed prominently on the shelves, and a children's section that includes a castle big enough to read in. We had to drag Isabel away.

Then it was off to Portland, OR. We visited old friends for brunch on our first morning there. When Eleanor got a little bored at the local playground, my friend Caroline suggested she check out the tiny free library on a nearby corner. Happiness ensued.

Finally, what is a trip to Portland without Powell's City of Books? We made a full family pilgrimage, trying to limit ourselves to buying one title each, and (mostly) succeeding. Here are Aunt Grace, Isabel, Eleanor, and Grandma Judy on one side of the Rose Room:

And here are cousins David and Natasha, along with Jeff reading to Will (Food for Thought, which we clearly need to pull out again at home!) on the other side:

What a glorious trip! We return renewed.

Love, Annie

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