BEST CHILDREN'S BOOKSTORE - 2003
Red Balloon Bookshop
Some independent bookstores have been compelled to pull out all the stops in order to stay in business, bringing in clowns and animals to roam the aisles in an effort to dazzle and entertain prospective young readers. It's understandable, and the shows can be beguiling, but there's something to be said for a well-stocked bookshop with informed, interested, enthusiastic staffers traversing the aisles, carefully stepping around the kids sprawled on the carpeting engrossed in a new release or classic. Wander in wondering what a good book for a one-year-old might be, and within a minute your hands are full of books placed there by a clerk telling you exactly why this book or that book is just right for a child with lots of books or one with few or none. They'll ask about the child, too: Is she/he verbal? Quiet? Crawling? Toddling? Running? Each bit of information prompts a knowing smile and a new suggested title. Walk in ignorant and walk out with a book that causes shrieks of laughter from the one-year-old. It's a true story, and it's why we keep going back.