Sue Cowing for Mixed-up Files: If only every state had a lively book shop on the main street of it’s capital city! Today it’s a pleasure to be chatting with Jane Knight of Bear Pond Books (www.bearpondbooks.com ), which has been called “one of the great independent book stores on earth.”
MUF: What do you hope people will experience when they walk into Bear Pond Books and browse?
MUF:What keeps you going?
Jane: Our passion for books and our loyal customers.
MUF: How do you choose the books you carry in your shop?
Jane: We use a very magical blend of intuition, passion, rep. and book world reviews, word on the street and even a little wild guessing.
MUF: What favorite titles—old and new, fiction and nonfiction—are you recommending to middle graders right now?
Jane: So difficult to narrow them down to a manageable list! But here goes: Fiction: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly, Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt, anything by Linda Urban, The Bartimeaus Trilogy by Johnathan Stroud, the Bone series by Jeff Smith, Clementine by Sara Pennypacker, Nation by Terry Pratchett, the Guys read series… please stop me now!!!! For Non-fiction: Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World’s MostDangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin, Shipwreck at the Bottom of the Sea ; The Extraordinary Story of Shackleton and the Endeavor by Jennifer Armstrong, Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers, by Tanya Lee Stone, anything by Steve Jenkins. New Titles: The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove, The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern, Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitxgerald, The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson, The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke.
MUF: Have you held events or activities at the store for middle graders? Any tie-ins with the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts up the hill?
Jane: Yes, we have! One of the favorites that comes to mind is our poetry month extravaganza in April when we call upon our local school to create and illustrate haikus to decorate the Children’s Room. And as we speak I am planning a writing workshop for kids this fall with the wonderful Sarah Stewart Taylor, author of the Expeditioners series. We have also hosted events with several VCFA faculty, visiting faculty and students, including Leda Schubert, Emily Jenkins (E.Lockhart), An Na, A. S. King, and Tim Wynne-Jones. We also hosted a super fun Reader’s Theater with a group of VCFA alumni who performed some of their new work.
MUF: By the way, where IS Waldo?
Jane: Last I heard he was fishing down on the Winooski River. But his whereabouts are kept very hush hush. He likes his privacy when he is vacationing here in July.
Jane: The obvious crowd pleaser in the area is, of course, the Ben & Jerry’s Factory tour. However, the city of Montpelier itself has plenty of restaurants and snacking opportunities: Positive Pie for outstanding pizza, The Skinny Pancake for crepes and Birchgrove Baking for exquisite baked goods and coffee. For some local flavor there is a cool granite quarry called Rock of Ages <http://www.rockofages.com/en/gift-shop-a-tourism> that gives tours, you can catch the Vermont Mountaineers <http://www.thevermontmountaineers.com/> play baseball in the summer and there is wonderful live theater downtown at the Lost Nation Theater <http://lostnationtheater.org/> . For a tiny capitol we have plenty of cultural diversion!
MUF: Thank you Jane for sharing your shop and books with us. Readers, If you’ve experienced Bear Pond for yourself or would like to, please add your comments here. And if you’re in the area don’t miss the unique pop-up museum and launch party event at Bear Pond on Friday :
Sue Cowing is the author of the puppet-and-boy novel You Will Call Me Drog (Carolrhoda Books, 2011, Usborne UK, 2012, HarperCollins UK, 2014)
Great read, Sue! Love this book store!!