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Book shopping with Big Niece

April 22, 2015

On Sunday I took big niece out for the day. It was a long promised outing to spend some money her Grandad had given her.

Her modest desires were to have her auntie all to herself, to ride on a train, to go on the top of a bus and go back to that big big bookshop. The bookshop in question was the children’s department in Waterstones Piccadilly.

Happily I was able to grant her wishes. We went on a train and the front seat of the routemaster was obligingly empty. She quite literally ran to the second floor of Waterstones then sank to her knees in front of the five to eight fiction  section. To my amusement within two minutes she had two willing slaves in the form of the children’s book assistants who rushed to find any book big niece declared she wished to look at. 

She studied all the Happy Families books they had in stock (Aallberg). I managed not to announce that I thought Janet Aallberg’s illustrations were better even though they are. A willing acolyte dashed to find Rhinos don’t eat pancakes when big niece pronounced she’d like it. Finally both managed to conceal their disdain for the hideous Princess Ponies book. They are a shrewd marketing ploy but quality children’s literature they are not. They are also pink and I have a rooted objection to gender stereotyping children’s books. Even more than toys books are for everyone.

After long consideration – Grandad was generous but not so generous she could have all the books she would like big niece settled on four books with her money discretely supplemented by auntie who could not be cruel enough to make her pare down her choice any further.

We left clutching Miss Dose the Doctor’s Daughter, Rhino’s Don’t Eat Pancakes and two of the monstrous Princess Ponies books. I console myself that there is no such thing as a bad book only one that is not to my taste.

I couldn’t help a little warm glow though. As we were leaving a ‘helpful’ fellow customer said to my niece. “You know you could get more books for your money at Amazon?” Big niece looked her up and down and said “I know but I like coming here best. No one helps me choose at Amazon and I can’t look at the books or touch them before I choose.” I’ve done something right.

After that I helped her cultural education along a little further. We visited an independent cheese monger in Jermyn St – her manners are improving she only complained the shop was stinky after we’d left. Then I showed her Floris which she found entrancing. A lovely sales assistant let her look at everything then offered her a squirt of scent I’m not sure whether she knew it or not but she made a six year old’s day. Our final visit was to Fortnum and Mason to ‘look but not touch’. I had some difficulty convincing her that I could not afford to buy chocolates for everyone she was very taken with the displays. Again much kudos to the shop assistant who knew we weren’t there to buy but gave her a chocolate to taste anyway. 

Our final activity was Shaun the Sheep hunting, we found six which was rather impressive considering I’d failed and forgotten the map. I’ve promised another attempt later.

We had a short rest at the Southbank Centre and read Rhinos Don’t Eat Pancakes. It is a truly fantastic picture book and I recommend it.

Now if I could just convince her Macdonald’s is not a sophisticated lunch choice…


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  1. Katherine permalink

    She’ll never become an accountant if you cook the books like that!
    And, so much more fun than Amazon.

  2. What a wonderful day! Granddaughter loved the Spy Dog books for a few years (helped by meeting the author at a book signing) but, like you, I consoled myself that at least she is an avid reader – while gently adding to her collection of Michael Morpurgo! I have always refused to take her to McDonald’s – that’s her granddad’s treat. She shares my love of seafood! It sounds as though you have lots of fun to look forward to as she grows!

  3. McDonalds should never be a lunch choice!

    And well done Niecelet for putting that customer in her place. I buy from Amazon but I also prefer bookshops. They are definitely a better experience even if one doesn’t get as many books for one’s money.

  4. miriammoules permalink

    That is wonderful. Your writing is incredibly vivid and my husband and I loved both the content and the story.

    As far as macdonalds is concerned, it’s a stepping stone. Better that she gets it out of the way as a little’un, than she winds up not being allowed it, and being stuck on it as an adult which is the problem we have when we take our teenagers out as part of our project. We’ve kind of convinced them that Wetherspoons is a step up, and from there it’s proven easier to get them to try decent pub food.
    Places like Gourmet Burger Kitchen can do lovely milkshakes and burgers, maybe try her on those and get her to see the difference?

  5. mrsredboots permalink

    My grandsons are taken to GBK (by their mother) and Pret a Manger (by me), and enjoy both places. McDonald’s is allowed, but not very often. Mind you, I will breakfast there, but not lunch there!

  6. dawn permalink

    Sounds like a fabulous day out. We were fine with Macdonalds as all of ours were veggie and at that point the veggie stuff they did was foul! I did let them do Burger King though as a special treat occasionally.

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