Thursday 3 April 2014

Come and meet Little Mouse

It may polarise readers, but I'm a cat person.

My feline housemate sits on my lap as I write, headbutts my book when I read, and at other times she stalks around the house, climbing over and under and around piles of books in search of her toys. Given she's scared of mice and birds, the stalking is generally restricted to indoors, but it's still very cute to watch her.

Instead I'm the hunter of the house, and my quarry are bookshops and their contents.

Okay, so the metaphor's a little laboured, but given that this week's find is Little Mouse Books in Maidstone, I couldn't resist the excuse to drag Dolly into the blog. Because - despite its being in the town where I currently live - I really did have to go on a hunting expedition to find this bookshop.

Hidden away in a small, very quiet shopping arcade behind one of the main streets in the town, this delightful little children's bookshop apparently opened towards the end of last year, but it only came onto my radar thanks to a chance recommendation to try internet bookseller Hive.

I'm not going to pretend I know everything about the town, but I do spend a lot of time looking for bookshops, so I was mortified when I realised I'd missed out on this shop for so long. But enough about me, let's get back to Little Mouse.

With a large arched window, even the shape of the front of this children's bookshop encourages you think of a mouse hole, making it a perfect place to retreat from the noise of a busy town centre.

Filled with colourful, interesting books for all ages (mostly children, but adults aren't forgotten), some new, some secondhand, along with a gruffalo or two and an array of woodland animals - including little mice - the shop is a bright and inviting bolt hole for book lovers.

There's even a colouring table to entertain youngsters who are yet to learn the wonder of their surroundings.

There was just one thing missing. Children. Because as lovely - and very reasonably priced - as Little Mouse Books is, it really was quiet as a mouse during my visit, with just one family introducing their child to the joy of reading.

The bookshop hosts reading sessions and is open to orders of new books, as well as being a destination for Hive shoppers to collect further purchases, so there are plenty of extra reasons to visit if - for some bizarre reason - the destination itself isn't enough, but I'd dearly love to see a few more people through its doors.

Why? Because I desperately want Little Mouse Books to be a success. I left the shop with Heidi by Joanna Spyri and a little mouse of my own, but most of all I left knowing there's a nearby independent bookshop for me to return to, but that will only happen if more people join me in welcoming Little Mouse to the town.

So who's coming into the mouse hole?

Unit 11B The Corn Exchange Market Buildings, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 1HP
Tel: 01622 679826

UPDATE: Little Mouse Books closed on 24th September, 2016

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