Books, Fun Gift Ideas, Stores

Maggie Mae’s Kids Bookshop

Living on the west side of town, we had never made it over to Maggie Mae’s Kids Bookshop in Gresham despite hearing lots of good things. As school came to a close and we were looking for things to do, I headed over to their website to find out more.

I was immediately intrigued by their book subscription boxes and signed both kiddos up, as well as myself. Chicken and I are avid readers (Chicken is reading as I type), while Nugget is a bit more reticent (he’s building dominoes. Again.). After you sign up, you are sent a form to fill out about your reader, their reading level, and their interests. Being a bit of a nerd, I found it to be a fun process.

Before I knew it, our boxes of books had arrived. Each person’s books was wrapped in tissue paper with a lovely personalized note attached. And I have to say, they NAILED it. The two books I received were right up my alley. I had actually read one of them before, and I was kindly informed that if that happens, you are able to take the book back and exchange it for something similar.

Chicken’s books were a perfect fit for her interests, and she finished one of the books that same day. Nugget is a very tough sell when it comes to books. While he’s a perfectly competent reader, it’s just not his activity of choice if left to his own devices. But that night we snuggled up with one of the choices and he loved it. I have never heard him laugh so hard at a book. We’re talking full on belly laughs. It was great! He’s since read it again on his own, and asked to listen to the audiobook version on a recent car trip.

We were so happy with the book boxes, we decided we needed to visit. As of the time I am writing this, their website indicates you need to book a shopping appointment. While not as convenient as just being able to pop in, we actually thought the idea of having a whole bookstore to ourselves was really fun! And then I saw that, for a small fee, you can add a birthday package! Chicken’s birthday was coming up, so I thought that would be a fun treat for my little reader.

On the morning of her birthday, we headed out. We got there a bit before the shop opened, so we spent some time walking around the downtown area- which was actually really cute! When our appointment time rolled around, a very friendly staff member greeted us. She wished Chicken a happy birthday, asked her what Hogwarts house she is (Gryffindor, in case you are wondering), and put on a Gryffindor inspired playlist. She was also presented with a gift bag of goodies, which included a small gift certificate for our next visit, candies, cute erasers, temporary tattoos, bookmarks, and other trinkets. It was a fun little treat.

The store itself is small, but very sweet. It felt very homey and welcoming. Books seemed to be organized by age, with books for small children located in the front, progressing toward books for grownups in the back. They had a good selection of books as well as related merchandise such as stuffed animals, vinyl stickers, popper fidgets, shirts, etc. Nugget was excited and impressed to see a Timbers logo signed by Jeff Antinella, and Chicken was happy to see a large drawing and note by one of her favorite local authors, Aron Nels Steinke, hanging on the wall.

One of the additional perks of having a shopping appointment was the extra attention we received from the staff member. She was very friendly and fun. She asked Chicken questions about her interests and what books she likes, and was able to introduce us to several new books that look like they will be a great fit. She was patient and fun, making the whole experience very enjoyable.

While we were there, other people wandered in that did not seem to have appointments. I was having too much fun shopping for it to occur to me to ask if appointments are now optional.

You are also able to shop online, participate in book clubs, complete their summer reading program, and get reading ideas by perusing their staff favorites lists on their website. This little store really does a lot!

Overall, we loved this adorable shop and will definitely be going back!

What it’s not: as big as other famous book stores in our area or national book chains, discounted prices

What it is: an adorable local business with kind, helpful, and knowledgeable staff, a great place to get book recommendations for yourself or others, a unique book shopping experience, a fantastic book box subscription service provider

Do we recommend it? Definitely!

Books

Annie Bloom’s Books- A Portland Treasure I Forgot About

Full disclosure- this post is a double plug.  I am so proud that our family friend and 3rd grade teacher, Jody Little, released her first book on March 12, 2019.  It is a middle grade book called Mostly the Honest Truth that focuses on the relationship between a young girl, her alcoholic father, and their work to define love and family.  It has already been named one of Amazon’s editor’s choice book for the genre, and was also an Indie Introduces book.  So huge achievements for a first time author!  We bought three copies- one for our family, one to donate to Chicken and Nugget’s school, and one to donate to the school where I work.

I could go on forever about Jody’s wonderfulness and how excited I am for her, but I should also mention the place where we went to celebrate her book launch- Annie Bloom’s books.  This independent bookstore is tucked in Multnomah Village and has been around for 40 years.  So not much of a discovery on my part.  Mostly a rediscovery for myself and my kids.

Jody’s book launch was on a Tuesday night at 7:00, so when 6:15 rolled around and Chicken and Nugget were still in fantastic moods, I decided we should roll the dice and to to the event even though it was a school night.  I explained where we were going and why, established the parameters of the visit, and crossed my fingers I wouldn’t totally regret it.

Annie Bloom’s is right in the middle of Multnomah Village and is packed with fantastic books.  It is cozy, there are books everywhere, and comfy seating is tucked in corners and spaces where it fits. I had been there years ago, but for some reason it hadn’t crossed my mental radar in a long time.  So it seemed like a great opportunity to go see what we had been missing.

We went early to explore the children’s section before the book reading and signing and I was pleasantly impressed.  There was a nod to some of the more popular series, like Dogman and Dork Diaries, but the focus was clearly on quality children’s literature.  Oregon Battle of the Books selections were prominently displayed, as were books related to Oregon and the Pacific Northwest in general.  Sections were divided by age range and were attractively displayed.  Books for older children were divided into paperback and hardback sections.  Novels with good content and positive messages were predominant over graphic novels and massed produced books with little meaning.  Can you tell I may have some opinions and preferences on this topic?

After browsing, it was time to sit at listen.  Champagne was available to adults and “apple cider with sparkies!,” as Nugget put it, was served to kiddos.  Donuts with pink frosting and sprinkles were also there- so Nugget was hooked.  He even raised his hand during the question and answer portion to inform Jody that the donuts on the table looked exactly like the donuts on the over of her book.  Teacher that she is, she praised his observation skills while I sat there pink faced.

After the signing, there was a bit more time for browsing.  The staff was kind, knowledgeable, and clearly invested in celebrating good books and local authors.  When it was time to go, Chicken had a wish list a mile long and tears glistened in her eyes when it was time to go.  Sure, being tired definitely played a role, but she was also completely in love with this book store and the items she was finding there.

This is definitely a little book store with a lot of heart and charm.  And while you’re there, it’s a perfect opportunity explore the other stores, cafes, and restaurants nestled in Multnomah Village.  The area is a great place to spend an afternoon, and this book shop should definitely be one of the stops you make  No, you won’t get the discounts you can find on Amazon or big chain book stores, but you are supporting a local business that, in turn, is supporting authors in our community.  And you may just find a literary gem, as well.  I am grateful the event brought this book store back to my mind and we will definitely be back for another visit soon!

More information about the store can be found at https://www.annieblooms.com/