I first heard of Mrs. Nelson’s Toy & Book Shop when it won the Parnell Award last year. The Parnell Award is given to bookstores that excel in promoting books to young people. After stopping by last month, it’s clear why they won. The store is stocked with great books and toys for newborns to YA readers. I enjoyed walking through the picture book section, it brought back memories of wonderful hours spent reading to my kids. I noticed that since my kids have passed this stage, I tend to gravitate toward the books that were our favorites rather than explore any new books. So I’ll use this platform to pitch my two favorite children’s books, the ones I give at every baby shower: Time for Bed by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jane Dyer and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault and Louis Ehlert.
Time for Bed is a story of parent animals lulling their babies to sleep. The singsong rhyme was perfect for calming down my sleepy, but squirrelly, toddlers. Although primarily a bedtime book, we read it all through the day. Each page gave me the opportunity to weave in animal noises for more rousing readings. Between the stunning illustrations (I bought every book illustrated by Jane Dyer after this one) and the fun rhymes, neither my kids or their incredibly wonderful parents (somebody needs to say it) tired of reading it.
I can still recite most of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Oddly enough, what I tend to forget is the title. Several times I have asked a bookseller, do you have “A told B and B told C, I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree?” and the bookseller knew exactly what I was looking for. This rhyme is addictive for reader and listener alike. I’m not a performer, but with this book, we had all kinds of fun yelling “wheeee” and bopping up and down with the beat. For over a year, my son wanted this book read to him first thing every morning, even before he wanted out of his crib.
After my walk down memory lane, I noticed the fun toys at Mrs. Nelson’s that were new to me. Most striking was the Schleich series of figurine animals, castles and imaginary creatures. The way my husband drooled over the display case, I figured we saved a year of college education remaining ignorant of these lovely toys.
Fantastic YA Section
Since Kelsey was with us, we played ‘stump the bookseller’ to see if she could suggest a YA book Kelsey hadn’t already read. We found several new choices. After some mother-daughter negotiations over which books I was willing to pay for and which books Kelsey would have to pay for from her allowance (I don’t pay for the new book in the latest series that has caught her fancy, the most recent ones having to do with female spies), we walked out with a stack of books. I paid for Anne of Avonlea (always encourage the classics), The Omnivore’s Dilemma – The Young Readers Edition by Michael Pollan (I already quote from the original one that I never read, so maybe reading this one will at least get me part way there) and Fat Cat by Robin Brande. Fat Cat interested Kelsey after hearing how much the bookseller loved it. Kelsey checked out from life while she was reading it and awarded it her highest honor “Best Book EVER” (note in the teenage world, best doesn’t imply singular).
I loved how Mrs. Nelson’s is geared toward kids but comfortable for adults – not full of too small chairs and not a mess. The vibrant author and event schedule is impressive. If you’re in the area (or if you’re wanting to travel a fun part of historic 66, it’s close by), stop in and enjoy.
1030 Bonita Ave.
LaVerne, CA 91750