UP!–“Come With Me” to Glen Rock

Over a month ago (yes, that’s how busy life can be) I was fortunate to catch a tweet about a book signing at a bookstore in northern New Jersey, my “neck of the woods.” The tweeter? The lovely Holly M. McGhee, gifted author of a variety of children’s books. The book? Come With Me, Holly’s newest picture book release (a smash hit, by the way!). The place? The Curious Reader, an independent children’s bookstore in Glen Rock, NJ, one I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to visit.

I was looking forward to the event, for sure. It was a “win-win-win,” right? You bet it was! But it turned out to be even more of an afternoon than I’d expected. Not only was the book signing a “gold/silver/bronze” event, but I even ended up with an unexpected, celebratory “closing ceremony,” all of which I want to share with you 😀

Located in the store-lined “downtown” of Glen Rock, NJ, this charming store not only holds its own—it thrives 😎

As would have it, though I intended to arrive early, little unforeseen happenings delayed my departure so I ultimately arrived a good 20 minutes late. I zipped through the front door and bee-lined to the back of the store…

Disappointed I missed Holly’s presentation, she having been accompanied with sketches by her husband, Michael, I was glad I didn’t miss out on all the fun 🙂

Holly (pictured* on the left holding a copy of Come With Me) and some happy attendees are enjoying an amusing anecdote from Holly’s son, Marshall…

Here is one of Michael’s sketches, proclaiming the book’s message: that every person has the power to do their positive part in the world through acts of kindness, even in the smallest, simplest ways…

There were lots of happy faces after enjoying the presentation, then decorating bird houses (Chris, the store manager’s suggestion) to later be hung in Glen Rock’s town arboretum (you’ll find out the connection soon enough 😉 )…

This was the little group I joined, having been invited to help decorate…

I was actually very impressed—since I’d never seen them before—by the totally cool Crayola Twistable crayons (those long ones in the cup) 😎 …

The beautiful results…

I got to add hearts and sparkling stars to the birdhouse on the left which my fellow-decorator then embellished with sticker stars of her own. Didn’t everyone do a terrific job?…

Also joining in the festivities were the talented husband and wife team, Anna Kang and Christopher Weyent (photo from the Princeton Book Festival 2017), along with their daughter (not pictured) and puppy…

The Curious Reader staff was right—Hudson**, their adorable and very well-behaved “Poochon” rescue dog, wasn’t quite as captivated as the rest of the audience 😮 🙂 …

After the event I had the pleasure of talking to The Curious Reader staff. Sally Morgan and her dad, Jim**, co-founded the store. I learned it was their passion for literature that inspired the opening of this bookstore and is the very foundation of this treasure trove of children’s books…

That passion, enthusiasm and knowledge is shared by Sally’s longtime boyfriend, Chris, the store manager. In speaking with a customer, I learned that the store’s success is largely due to the staff themselves. Their friendly demeanor and expertise in helping patrons find just the right book are what draw people in, even if it’s just to say “hello” 🙂 In fact, while I was there, a boy (probably about 11 years old) eagerly ran in, headed straight for Chris and “demanded” “Where’s the new ‘Rick Riordan’ book?!” Witnessing these book pals, with matching wide smiles and sharing this kind of excitement over a new book tickled my insides. It’s the kind of KidLit “contagion” I wish I could’ve captured to share—talk about “viral”! 😀

Here are Chris and Sally; we were at the back end of the store where the event took place. The table on the left on which the finished birdhouses were on display is where Holly signed books, and to the right is the cozy back room where the reading was held…

Scattered about, donning the walls and shelves, are sketches from illustrators who’d also visited The Curious Reader

I even found a framed piece of artwork by Melissa Guion

As you can see, every corner is welcoming…

Huddled on the carpet, a mom plucked several books from the surrounding shelves and gave her children a treat with some lively storytelling…

And another happy patron left with her choice of book wrapped free-of-charge upon request…

Ah, the sight of familiar, beloved books in the storefront window :D…

I was so happy Holly had her book signing at The Curious Reader. It’s such a special store run by a very special group of people. Everything about the experience was uplifting and you would think that was more than enough fun for one day, wouldn’t you? Well, as luck would have it, Christopher (Weyent) told Holly and I about the arboretum in town at which the birdhouses would be finding a home.

The site being only blocks away, I could not resist checking it out! Of course, I took pics 😀 Please keep in mind these were taken during this year’s “dull” autumn when the trees in our area, which normally should’ve been at near peak with the many colors of autumn foliage were, for the most part, green or bare. It was still beautiful so you can just imagine what it’s like when it blossoms in spring or after a fresh snowfall. I intend to revisit. Can you tell? 😉

Upon arrival “confused me” was made aware, by a delightful mother who was there to walk with her son, that The Thielke Arboretum of Glen Rock has three entrances, one from the road which was barricaded due to construction. The other two, only feet from each other, are off the parking lot (adjacent to the Glen Rock Pool). The woman told me if I wanted to visit the pond area first, this pathway, flanked by ducks, led more directly to it…

…and to experience The Storywalk first, this entrance is more direct…

What exactly is The Storywalk, you wonder? It’s a stroll through the woods during which the trees help in telling the walkers a story. Each Fall season Sally Morgan at The Curious Reader helps with the choice of book and generously supplies the book itself to the volunteers who then display its pages along the path. This fall’s pick was A Color of His Own by Caldecott Winner Leo Lionni

Not only is the idea itself inviting, but so is the foliage-lined, winding path as you make your way from tree page to tree page…

If you keep an eye out, you will spot encouraging messages and images…

Look closely and you can see that lovely mom and her very helpful son. She described the full layout of the arboretum better than any map, and I’ll have you know her son, with great enthusiasm, instructed me as to how to follow the path to read the pages in order…

At the conclusion of The Storywalk you come to a fork in the path. There are several benches positioned in the most picturesque spots throughout the arboretum, this one made of stones. Heading toward the right is a green, antique gazebo which you can spy through the trees. That, along with the rest of the arboretum can actually be reserved for special occasions including weddings, programs, workshops, nature tours, and photography sessions! Trust me, it’s perfect for it…

Being an 11-acre designated wetland forest which conserves native plants and is a natural habitat for wildlife, also offered are educational programs for schools and groups such as the Boy and Girl Scouts…

Beyond the gazebo is the pond which, for the occasional fisherman or their annual Fishing Derby, is stocked with fish…

To the right of the fountain, you can view another bench where a few people were enjoying the scenery…

This sturdy wooden kiosk was built by a Boy Scout Troop which displays information about the fish inhabiting the pond…

On my walk back, now looking in different directions, I noticed more enticing spots, this one opposite the pond fountain. I was more than tempted to allow myself time to sit for a while, but the ticking clock wasn’t cooperating—at least not on that particular day…

I can only guess that the hay and stalk at its base, along with the gazebo pulling my eyes to the right when I’d come to that fork in the path, was the reason I missed this amazing lamppost! For a brief moment I felt transported to Narnia and wondered if Mr. Tumnus was about to pop out from behind that tree…

…and if my legs weren’t so tired, I would’ve ventured over this little bridge…

There was a serendipitous feel to my not seeing this sun dial till I was about to leave. It seemed to mark well-spent time away from “the busy-ness of the world” in this perfectly peaceful place where it’s virtually impossible not to commune with nature and allow one’s body, mind and soul to breathe…

If there was a theme to the entire afternoon, it would have to be “kindness.” It began with an event that all began with Come With Me, a book about kindness; then the kindness shown by the incredible staff at The Curious Reader; and finally the kindness displayed by the very existence of the Thielke Arboretum of Glen Rock, it being fully supported through donations and preserved by volunteers. Everyone and every place involved made for a thoroughly enjoyable page in my book of memories 😀 ❤

Are you familiar with Holly’s book Come With Me? Do you have any favorite kindness-themed books? Is there a special place you go, or would like to go—indoors or out—that allows for quiet and peace? 

 

* Holly supplied the photos of herself and the attendees.

** The Curious Reader supplied the photos of Sally and Jim, and puppy Hudson.

6 thoughts on “UP!–“Come With Me” to Glen Rock

  1. Serendipity – that day!
    Appreciations for the photo & text intro intro to this peaceful new book, to the bookshop decorated with children’s book art & cozy spaces & for the gentle meander through the village storybook path in the Glen Rock park. These are idea for all communities! And as someone with New Jersey roots, I hope to visit the Curious Reader some day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jan, it’s been so long since I’ve been by your blog! :-\ I’m glad you enjoyed this 🙂 I hope you’re well, and if you’re up here, The Curious Reader is definitely worth the stop! And I agree—arboretums like this should DEFinitely be more commonplace. It’s SO wonderful 🙂

      Like

  2. As a kid I always wanted to own an old-fashioned candy store, but after seeing your photo of the father and daughter bookstore co-owners, I think I’ve found something even sweeter!
    You really packed this post full of interesting things, including The Storywalk.
    My favorite pic is of the tired rescue dog looking the other way.
    Thanks for all your nice comments on my travel blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Tina! I LOVE what you put on your travel blog 🙂 I wish I could visit more often! And I agree—wouldn’t you just LOVE to own a bookstore? For me, especially children’s books, but books, period 😀

      Like

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