The Tiny Library Challenge, Round II

Readers might recall the miniature library kit that almost drove Katie to the edge of sanity in 2021. It took 12 months, 46 hours and countless grey hairs, but Katie finally completed it! Fast forward to 2022, and the discovery of the Mind-Find Bookstore kit by Rolife Hands Craft. How can we resist, right? This bookstore has a BEAR in it!  So we decided to test the kit…except…now it’s MY turn to feel the agony and ecstacy of miniature building.

The Rolife kit is nicely packaged, and retails for around $20 on Amazon and Target. It is intended for ages 14 and up. That age range is absolutely correct. You need a steady hand and lots of patience to build it. I slowly unpackaged everything, wondering what I had gotten myself into. In the background, Katie chuckled evily.

One thing I liked about the kit was that you could lay the pieces on the paper templates, matching up the numbers with the instructions. This allowed me to have everything in one place, without having to stop and hunt for pieces during the process. Fair warning: the print on the instructions is miniscule, and there’s a bunch of tiny little paper signs to cut out too. I used regular-sized scissors and fumbled through, but smaller craft scissors would have produced cleaner cuts for sure.

One thing I did NOT like about the kit was the glue. The nozzle was always gushing, which endangered the fragile pieces. I finally resorted to using a paperclip to brush the glue on all the teeny weeny surfaces.

The kit also comes with a pair of plastic tweezers. I definitely had to use them! Not just for construction, but also setting up the interior of the shop. It was quite the adventure, folding the little bags, gluing the little handles on, and then navigating each of them on to the little slippery pegs!

There were a couple different types of books to construct as well. Some were just paper covers glued to foam pieces. Others were books you could actually open and turn the pages. Nice!

The advertised completion time for the kit is 3.5 hours. Well, it took me 5 hours and lots of complaining, squinting, moaning, and muttering quiet curses. At one point, I sent Katie a photo of my messy progress and bemoaned how crazy the kit was making me. She simply sent back this:

Like the kit Katie assembled, this little bookstore can be wired for lights. Buuuuuut I couldn’t figure out the “heat tube” part of the instructions, annnnnnd the little lightbox broke during construction. So I had to jerry-rig the bulb to the battery like some sort of miniature MacGyver. But in the end, there was LIGHT!

I would say the Mind-Find Bookstore kit by Rolife Hands Craft is mid-range in difficulty. If you are working on this with a kid, plan for lots of extra time and patience as most of the pieces are from scratch, the paper signs are small, and the instructions are a little vague. Ultimately, the results were cute, and this cheerful little bookstore will brighten any room or shelf!

Pop’s Top 10: Literary Weddings

It’s June, and that, my friends, is wedding season! Today, we are celebrating the tying of the knot with our top 10 picks for literary-themed weddings. Now. There are zillions and zillions of bookish wedding ideas out there, and add another gabillion Pinterest boards. Type “literary themed wedding” in Google and you’ll get 989,000 results. “Literary wedding cakes?” 924,000. We did, however, turn up only 1 literary bachelorette party (you go girls)!

So we went with couples who dedicated their entire special day to books. We also ruled out the plethora of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones weddings in favor of the more obscure. Here they are, in no particular order. Definitely click on the links, because the details are AMAZING.


#1 THE NIGHT CIRCUS
From Offbeat Bride

First, they pick a cool book. Then, they have their wedding in Los Angeles’ famous Last Bookstore. Her nail art rocked, there were silhouette cake toppers, AND they had a stage magician. I can’t handle the awesome.


#2 PETER PAN
From Ruffled

White with pops of hunter green, floating fabrics, and simple elegance. Add some golden crocodiles and the cutest Tinkerbell you’ve ever seen and you’re off to Neverland!


#3 SHREK
From The Daily Mail

Technincally, Shrek was a picture book before it became a movie. And while this couple definitely went with the Dreamworks version, they are so darn adorable, we couldn’t resist including them here.


#4 THE LITTLE PRINCE
From Ruffled

I do believe the cake says it all. And that gorgeous color palette! But click on the link to see what has to be the most adorable ring-bearer of all time, rocking a pair of purple boots.


#5 ALICE IN WONDERLAND
From Rock n Roll Bride

The original blogger titled this “Margaret & Edi’s Incredible ‘Blows-Everything-Else-Out-of-the-Water’ Gothic Alice in Wonderland Wedding.” And it delivers. What’s cool is that the couple actually had a very simple ceremony at the groom’s parents’ house. But then they totally blew the top off the reception.


#6 TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
From Publisher’s Weekly

A beautiful, thoughtful, and touching wedding. I especially love the childhood trinket boxes at the tables. Also, oversized ham costumes are mentioned. My heart is won.


#7 THE PRINCESS BRIDE
From Offbeat Bride

Another wedding that draws more on the movie than the book, and this one is full of joy. And that kiss? Since the invention of the kiss, there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most the pure. This one leaves them all behind.


#8 A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
From Green Wedding Shoes

Prepare to be transported. The ceremony was in a redwood grove. The reception was in an exposed-rafter barn blooming with lush ferns and gorgeous flowers. The bride handmade animal masks for each and every guest. Oh rapture!


#9 THE WORKS OF DR. SEUSS
From Green Wedding Shoes

This couple didn’t choose one book. They chose many Seuss books and perfectly nailed the color palette to boot. Especially nice touches were whimsical directional signs, opportunities for the guest to doodle, and Bar 1 and Bar 2.


#10 SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES
From Rock n Roll Bride

Two film-makers, joined through their mutual love of Ray Bradbury’s classic novel,  transport their Los Angeles friends to a jovial Gothic carnival in the bride’s childhood hills of Montana. Laughter, love, costumes, music, and fire breathers. I don’t even know these guys, but I’m totally bummed I missed their wedding!

Of Bears and Books

of bears and booksThese days, independently owned bookstores are an endangered species. And independently owned children’s bookstores? Those are as rare as unicorns (and some may argue, just as mythological). It is with great joy, then, that I share a very special children’s bookstore situated in the little town of Hopewell, New Jersey.

deskThe Bear and the Books is an utterly charming space bursting at the seams with books, imagination, and consideration for those journeying on the paths of early literature. At the store’s heart is owner Bobbie Fishman. Bobbie managed the children’s departments of two local bookstores for 14 years before opening the Bear and the Books in 2013.

Why did you decide to open the shop?

I love what I do, and I believe that children need to see good books, not necessarily the books that are being marketed heavily by the publishers and – therefore – press. Children are taught what they are supposed to want by the media, which I believe is all tangled up in marketers’ ideas of what will sell. Good books are not written to be “something that will sell.” I just want good books to have half a chance in children’s minds. I’ve often said that my job is reading children’s books in the bathtub and then getting out and talking to people about them. The conversations I have with customers about children’s books are what I’ve come to love – those conversations are what I think I have to offer. (Otherwise, I’m quite shy.)

A number of months after I left my previous job, when I was trying to figure out what was going to come next in my life and I had been thinking I would do something completely different, this space in my town was looking available. It was affordable enough for me to think about taking the risk of opening a shop. I’m afraid I was too attached to these books to leave them.

cozy cornerHow did you decide on the name of your shop?

The bear was the bear left in Micawber [a former local bookstore] by my friend Liz Flemer who worked there before me; she put it there for children to play with, along with a few other toys. It got dragged around and slobbered on and put to sleep in its sleeping basket again and again. When Micawber closed I took the bear home with me until Labyrinth [a current local bookstore] opened – where it continued its role. When I left Labyrinth, so did the bear. We’ve shared all our time in bookstores together, and when I knew I would open this shop I realized that the bear was a constant. What would be in the shop? The bear and the books.

the bearWhat do you love about children’s literature?

I don’t think my love of good children’s literature is much different from my love for any good literature: it has the power to surprise us and rattle us at the exact same moment it is reaching a deeply familiar place inside; it is words and art that work to show us that we are human – that we have sympathy for and interest in so much of what happens. I actually think books remind us that we are good people and that being a person can be fun sometimes. For even the youngest readers of the simplest picture books, I think this is true: They can feel “I am part of a world I can converse with and laugh with and have feelings for. This is being human, and this is very interesting.” And what you learn about yourself when a book makes you cry could be one of the most important lessons in your life.

Who designed the interior of your store?

Mostly me, but I wouldn’t call it designing; rather, it was “making it up as we went along,” and I had the best of help from three wonderful carpenters, who knew even better than I did how to make it up as we went along: Chris Thacher, Phil Rayner, and Walter Varhley.

large tableWhat’s your philosophy on bookselling?

I guess I just see it as matchmaking: trying to figure out what can please someone. With children, I want to know what they’ve been reading or hearing that they love and I take it from there. Oddly, although I do try to go close to something the child likes, I realize a goal is to move them a small bit away to something different; and it is often when I make what I think is an out-of-their-line suggestion, that is the book they will go for. Children are often more flexible and more widely interested than they want to admit – or perhaps than they know.

What is Bear Mail Books?

Bear Mail is a plan one can sign up for to have books chosen by me for a particular child and mailed to the child at regular intervals, usually one each month. Most Bear Mail customers sign up for a year’s worth of shipments, but I will do it for any span of time, and some customers have books sent every other month, or 2 books a month. I try to send books that not everybody knows.

How do you select the books for the recipient?

I find out what I can about the child: How old? What’s he or she been hearing or reading that she likes? Are there older siblings in the house? Do they want books that will be read to the child or that the child will read? I have to confess that after a while, I have made up a version of the child in my head and I will sometimes consider a book and think: “I’m not sure Helga will like this one,” and then I have to laugh because I’ve never met Helga.

front windowCan you name a few of your favorite books?

Amos and Boris by William Steig
An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden
Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
A collection of poems by Margaret Wise Brown called Nibble Nibble, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard, NOT the supposed reissue by Harper (illustrated with great stupidity by someone else and only being the illustration of one poem)
Many Moons by James Thurber
An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni
Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell


Many thanks to Bobbie Fishman for letting us roam her shop, and for providing the photo of The Bear and the Books sign!