I found myself inside The Alligator's Mouth last week. My niece nestled in to the comfy sofa in the front window reading through books with her grandfather while I excitedly poured over the colourful bookshelves.
In a time where local bookshops are closing by the week, it is wonderful to hear of new independent bookshops opening their doors. Opened in March of this year, The Alligator's Mouth is a bright, fresh and colourful space tucked away down an alley in London's Richmond. The shop has been beautifully curated with an exciting collection of new and classic children's books.
The true value of this shop is not the superb collection of the finest children's books, it is the passionate and enthusiastic owners who work to serve our children. I met the extremely lovely and highly qualified Margaret & Tony who own and run this fabulous independent children's bookshop. (Margaret studied Children's Literature at University and Tony is a qualified teacher.) Their mission is to "reach all readers: the confident, the beginner, and the reading-resistant. We are here for any child who wants to enter Wonderland, or who still believes in fairies and that animals can talk, or who wants to be a pirate or a magician or fly with the dragons... and the people that love them."
Tony had endless fun recommendations for me and I was lucky enough to look through many, many of his recommended books as he read out his favourite pages and lines to me. What a treat! Tony has a soft and beautifully animated voice. I am sure that the regular 'Alligator's Storytime' held within their store is something not to be missed.
There is value and layers of meaning in every book. Sometimes, we need a guide to be able to identify the right book for the right moment in a child's life. There are times in childhood that a book (the right book) can help make sense of the world. Books in The Alligator's Mouth can directly remedy issues such as when a child is scared of the dark, or needs to make room for a new sibling, is learning to share, or is shy. Tony spent time with me. He was extremely generous with his time and shared his wisdom and thoughts in a humble and humorous way. I left the store with a great collection of books just right for my family. For this I was very appreciative.
Unfortunately this gorgeous bookshop is not my local bookshop. I hope to share with you some wonderful little libraries and bookshops from around the world. There is immense value in your local bookshop and the local and passionate mad booksellers that run them. I hope to pay tribute to them one by one. I would love to hear your suggestions of great local favourites.
I had to share this quote that was written to the owner's of the Alligator's Mouth:
The Alligator's Mouth
2a Church Court
Surrey TW9 1JL UK
Pirate directions borrowed from The Alligator's Mouth website.