Sunday, 21 December 2014

Indie Advent: Sarwat Chadda on Tales on Moon Lane, Herne Hill

When I decided to do Indie Advent, there were so many great bookshops I knew of, and I was so sure that there'd be others I wasn't aware of, that I was happy to take posts on any of them. That said, I was HUGELY delighted when I got an offer to do one on one of my very favourite shops, Tales on Moon Lane - thanks so much to author Sarwat Chadda.

(Note: pictures are mine, so blame me for any photography slip-ups - I thought I had one of the front of the shop! - and the focus on cuddly toys. Fab illustrator Carolina Rabei is in the red hat, drawing on the gorgeous illustration wall, after a really enjoyable event where she helped me make a Christmas card for my sister.)

I am amazingly located when it comes to independent bookshops. I have five all within a mile of my home. All excellent. All friendly and full of staff who know and love books.
But TALES ON MOON LANE is my favourite. Not just because it was the first bookshop I ever visited with a proof of my first novel and I’ve held two launch parties there.
It’s well laid out. It has a sofa and a cool den-like back room. It’s small, intimate and cosy, as all the best bookshops should be. It specializes in children’s books, from picture books all the way to YA and has a great selection of classics. The front window displays are legendary.

You go in, the bell chimes. There’s probably a giant teddy lurking in the corner. Some wooden toys. A few pushchairs. Then you see the art. Drawings by Chris Riddell up on the wall.  Sketches by the great and the good of children’s illustrators. Walk further and there’s the den for the older readers. The weekly top ten faces you and its packed bookshelves all around. You’re surrounded by storytelling.

In the end, its the people who make a shop special. And Tales has some of the best. Tamara who owns it, George who until recently ran it, then Leah, Maddy, Tereze and now one of my best mates (and fellow Greenhouse Lit Agency chum) Jen. They’re there for chats and advice and, sometimes, for a shoulder to cry on.

And since it is Christmas, what shopping am I doing there? There are plenty of conversations about this being Mid-grade and apealling to one audience. That being YA and to be read by another. Or this is for girls and not for boys. I find all such discussion irritating and stupid. A book is a book. It is either well-written or not. So, this year I’m buying VARJAK PAW by SF Said. It is more than well-written and should be read by everyone.

TALES ON MOON LANE. It’s a children’s bookshop and it’s great. What more needs to be said?

Thanks Sarwat for a great post! Tales on Moon Lane can be found at their website and on Twitter; Sarwat is at, his blog, and on Twitter.

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