The value of being small

The value of being small

Bookwagon hopes you have made a happy return to the new academic year. This annual marker affects everyone in the community, from hairdresser to long-distance lorry driver. However, the biggest, most lasting effect of the start of a school year is upon the school goer. These first days are daunting especially for the very young. There is such pressure in being small within a big new world.

Assuming new people, routines and settings in new places is stressful. Furthermore it is demanding for families. There is a comfort in returning to the familiar at the end of a working day, with food, chat, bed, bath and books. Bookwagon seeks to be part of your daily routine with books we’ve read and love and recommend to you. Happy new school year.

Bookwagon (C) End of school day

At the end of a school day

In the meantime…

Bookwagon has refined its appearance and products, while the world enjoyed its summer holiday. We are proud of our new look and opportunities. There is a variety of subscription packages, including Book Bundle and a Birthday list service. 

The first enables a customer to buy a bunch of books for a reader, maybe a series, or a selection created from the information you provide. It’s an especially great choice for the reading devotee, as a gift, or for a specific period of time.

The second, the Birthday list service, was inspired by a regular customer requesting gift books for her daughters’ friends’ parties. What if you could preorder a number of gift books, advising us of recipients’ essential details ahead of their celebration? Bookwagon chooses the book, gift wraps and writes your birthday message before posting the selection. What is better than the gift of a book?

Birthday gift list (C) Bookwagon

A message from Bookwagon

Bookwagon offers a bespoke service. Being small means we can assist our customers personally, using our knowledge of our children’s books to suit specific individual needs.

Joanna Grochowicz

It means we can get to know our writers too. Recently we met with acclaimed non-fiction narrative writer, Joanna Grochowicz. After failing to find biographies about the polar explorers to fulfil her sons’ interest, this writer created her own. Extensive research and commitment culminated in Into the White: Scott’s Antarctic Odyssey and Amundsen’s Way: The Race to the South Pole. Ernest Shackleton’s polar adventure will feature in a third title.

Bookwagon (C) Joanna Grochowicz

Joanna Grochowicz, London, September 2019

 

Bookwagon (C) Into the White and Amundsen's Way

Into the White and Amundsen’s Way

We are proud to be Joanna’s on site bookseller during her schools’ tour in November, and then again in December. Moreover, her first visits coincide with National Non-Fiction November. Imagine stepping inside an historic figure’s (snow) shoes, ‘feeling’ their determination, fears, hopes and experience. Joanna’s books are stirring, informative and important.

More small

I have learned to drown out the clamour of  bigger booksellers despite feeling intimidated by their reach. Reading every book we sell means we are  less inclined to rush to a new release likely to be splashed across the chain stores. Being small means Bookwagon may champion titles and writers lesser known but meriting a wide readership. We recommend books through our experience of them, with authority.

During the summer I enjoyed reading Gabrielle Kent’s Penfurzy set adventure series- Knights and Bikes and Knights and Bikes Rebel Bicycle Club. The first was an introductory selection for small startup Brixton publisher ‘Knights Of…

Bookwagon (C) Knights and Bikes series

Knights and Bikes’ series

I could hear the Cornish accented Demelza, and smell the oil of the bike chains. What a great adventure series, with crafty Arthurian links!

Small, bubbly, smelly and communicative

On Thursday, the third title in Jennifer Killick’s ‘Alex Sparrow’ series is released. I read these titles backwards, i.e., I read and loved Mo, Lottie and the Junkers ahead of Jennifer’s Alex series. As our gift book subscribers can attest, I love that first title SO much and recommend it hugely. The beauty of being an independent children’s bookseller is that I am able to read our books in the order I choose; I’m not being driven by the market or a publicist.

‘Mo, Lottie and the Junkers’ inspired me to read both ‘Alex Sparrow’ titles on the trot. What a treat! If your reader enjoys books with dialogue, humour, rather annoying main characters, flaws, the unexpected, quirky humour, coincidence and pratfalls, please don’t overlook Jennifer Killick’s titles. Roll on in ‘Alex Sparrow and the Zombie Apocalypse’!

 

Bookwagon (C) Jennifer Killick titles

   Titles by Jennifer Killick

Small publishing houses

Many of of Bookwagon’s favourite titles have emerged from smaller, bespoke publishing houses. These appear to have a vested interest in discovering and nurturing quality writers and picture book makers.

However smaller publishing houses have cautious print runs, through necessity. Furthermore, they do not have the big marketing budgets of large international publishing houses, nor the network for global sales. This means writers and picture book makers are at the mercy of booksellers and a reading public. What a responsibility!

New books (C) Bookwagon

       A Bookwagon gift book

It can be frustrating to be a reading bookseller, championing wonderful writers. So often publicity is attached to known writers or picture book makers, reprised titles, or the quick thrill of a debut. It’s why we read every book we sell, so that we can urge readers toward books and writers and picture books we know you’ll enjoy.

What it means

Being small and independent offers this bookseller opportunities to read and sell international titles like Felicita Sala’s Lunch at 10 Pomegranate Street, created in France, or Australian Aaron Blabey’s riotous The Bad Guys. We  cheer the arrival of Uncle Shawn and Bill and the Not One Tiny Bit Lovey-Dovey Moon Adventure the third title in A.L.Kennedy (yes, that one) and Gemma Correll’s bizarre, hilarious series, celebrating kindness and individuality.

10 Pomegranate Street and Children Who Changed the World (C) Bookwagon

Bookwagon new titles

Being small can be powerful, as Clementine shows, in picture book maker Chris Wormell’s astounding graphic story, The Magic Place

Small is powerful in real life. Mr Bookwagon and I were both brought to tears reading the true stories selected for Children Who Changed the World. As I write another small, strong girl protests outside the White House; Greta’s Story

New chapter book titles from Bookwagon

    A new Bookwagon chapter book selection

On the road

Being small means that when Bookwagon is called to popup in schools throughout London and the Home Counties, we curate each event specifically. We work to create book fair selections that captivate, win and challenge readers. It’s a demanding order, but one we love!

Therefore

There is value in being small, starting small, but reading large and widely. We look forward to sharing a depth and breadth of wonderful reading opportunities throughout the new season and beyond. We can’t wait!

Happy reading!

 

 

 

 

 

Discoveries

Discoveries

We open with a thank you

Recently Bookwagon celebrated two years in operation. We have made so many discoveries along the way.

As a special thank you for being aboard with us, special subscribers and loyal customers are offered a 15% discount on products, aside from those already on offer.  Enter the code AUG08 at the checkout. This offer is available until midnight August 12th.

Moving ahead

A year ago we developed the Bookwagon site notably. Now, a second year in, we’re revising it anew to include extensions to our subscription programme and further information about services. We have learned so much about the mechanics of websites!

The children in your family, or those with whom you work, will be making discoveries this summer. When I taught, I felt children learned more in their ‘off task’ times than their structured lessons (discuss!)

Bruce Lee said, ‘Life itself is your teacher and you are in a constant state of learning.’ Time to make discoveries is rare in our scheduled lives; summer holidays suggests these possibilities.

Bookwagon Making Discoveries

A lifetime of discoveries!

Aboard a giant killer jellyfish

Martha in Jelly makes discoveries beyond possibilities. She watches Petrified Pete attempt to escape the killer giant jellyfish upon which they and a post-apocalyptic community are captive. Consequently, she feels her need, and the potential to break away, grow. Is it possible to leave this Kraken that seems to sense the schemes of its inhabitants? What lies ashore, left broken by the travesty of humankind ignoring warnings of climate change and rising water levels?

Jelly and No One is Too Small to Make a Difference Bookwagon

Jelly by Clare Rees, alongside No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg

Darwin (and some ovis aries)

Mr Bookwagon was awed when he read Darwin: An Exceptional Voyage. Although we know something of Charles Darwin’s discoveries, we know little of his life, research, duration of his voyages, nor his extreme youth when he began his exploration.

Brenda is making culinary discoveries. Mint flavoured sauces are brewing. It seems like Brenda is preparing a thank you for the warmth of her welcome into the sheep community. She’s taught them archery, though attempts at tag have gone awry. Brenda is a Sheep, though a taller sheep than the others, with sharper teeth and a knitted woollen jumper…

Brenda is a Sheep Bookwagon

Brenda is a Sheep by Morag Hood

Summertime

Ahead of kd lang’s appearance in concert, I chatted with my neighbour who’d returned from interviewing Michael Sheen about his Homeless World Football Cup. His charity inspires me. Thereafter, I thought of Joe, and the message within a seemingly simple picture book The Extraordinary Gardener by Sam Boughton. Joe sees beyond the sterile hopelessness of a grey world, seeking something exceptional, which he creates through one seed of hope and community.

An Extraordinary Gardener Bookwagon

An extraordinary gardener!

Summertime hopes, seeds and discoveries

Seeds of hope, community and raspberries are sown in Freddie’s Amazing Bakery The Great Raspberry Mix-Up, Harriet Whitehorn’s introduction to a new early chapter book series. I love her deft characterisation and the creativity and charity evident in her lead character. What would he make with a new, improved cooker?

Miranda has never baked despite her recipe collection. Baking is but one of the activity she’d love to try with her mother. Yet her mother avoids any prospect of being close with Miranda. Moreover she rejects all opportunities to share her childhood, or support Miranda through her fears, including a paranoia about water. What discoveries might Miranda make when circumstances mean she must stay at her mother’s childhood home of August Island in The Secret Summer?

The Secret Summer Bookwagon

The Secret Summer by Ali Standish

From the familiar to the new in early chapter books

Bookwagon has worked determinedly to extend our range of superior early chapter books. We are overjoyed when sequels to much loved series appear, we are overjoyed. Recently, we have welcomed Hotel Flamingo Holiday HeatwavePigsticks and Harold and the Tuptown ThiefRabbit & Bear: A Bite in the Night and King Dave Royalty for Beginners.

Mac Bear Kid Spy and Rabbit and Bear Bite in the Night Bookwagon

Mac B Kid Spy Mac Undercover, and Rabbit & Bear: A Bite in the Night

Alongside ‘Freddie’s Amazing Bakery The Great Raspberry Mix-Up’ we have introduced two new series. The first is another solo effort by one half of the acclaimed Barnett- Klassen writing partnership. Mac B. Kid Spy Mac Undercover sees the 1970’s Californian Game Boy- playing school boy take his first spy mission- for the Queen!

Lolo doesn’t have any missions. However she does have school, skipping, library books and twinkling pavement discoveries! We are delighted to discover Here Comes Lolo and Hooray for Lolo from South Africa.

Pigsticks and Harold and the Tuptown Thief and Hooray for Lolo

Pigsticks and Harold and the Tuptown Thief, and Hooray for Lolo

Space discoveries

At the London Book Fair, Mr Bookwagon and I pledged to select only the best books relevant to the 50th anniversary of the moon landings, recently celebrated. We delighted upon Pop-up Moon, discovered at that event. Thereafter, we applauded the launch of a superb poetry collection by Brian Moses and James Carter, Spaced Out. Recently, I alighted upon the story of the seamstress charged with designing and making the first garments to be worn by the Apollo 11 crew, in The Spacesuit.

The Spacesuit Bookwagon

  The Spacesuit by Alison Donald & Ariel Landy

To infinity (with a book)

Bookwagon sells books we read and love only.  When I am surrounded by mountains of TBR books I find it hard to maintain that pledge. Yet they are laden with discoveries. Two titles read recently transported, moved and overwhelmed me, like the very best books do.

I was reluctant to read Toby Ibbotson’s The Unexpected Find, for the reason that his mother was Eva Ibbotson. What a mistake. From the moment the storm hits town, to its revelatory conclusion, it seemed as though this book held me in its grasp. This is a parable for all readers; wise, joyful and moving.

How can a ‘Grease’ loving, old English sheepdog fearing, bacon afficionado hope to mend his family? Carlie Sorosniak’s  I, Cosmo is an empathetic, funny, insightful, Sandy-fluffed story. It is glorious!

I, Cosmo and The Unexpected Find Bookwagon

I, Cosmo, and The Unexpected Find

 

We hope you are making wonderful discoveries during your summer.

With our thanks, and warm reading wishes