Welcome to The Woodstock Bookshop

The shop opened in May 2008 and is on the main road in Woodstock, just next to the bus stop. We can supply most books to order by the next day and have several thousand books in stock: to order books ring or email the shop. We have a large selection of children's books and are happy to advise and recommend. We can also supply second-hand and out-of-print titles. We offer discounts for school orders and for book clubs and have a free local delivery service.

We were on the regional shortlist for Independent Bookshop of the Year in 2009, 2013 and 2017, and listed in the recent Independent's Top 50 UK Bookshops.

BOOKSHOP TALKS
We hold a series of informal talks and readings throughout the year. If you buy any book at the talk the cost of the ticket will be deducted. Please ring or email to book a place - early booking advisable.

The Woodstock Literature Society and Wootton Village Hall also hold excellent series of monthly talks - do visit their websites for further details.

Twitter: @WoodstockBooks

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Mini Grey evening at The White Horse


We had another very good evening at the White Horse Barn on 4th March, this time with award-winning children's illustrator and author Mini Grey. Mini studied sequential illustration in Brighton under John Vernon Lord (inspirational creator of The Giant Jam Sandwich) and decided that she had to be able to generate her own stories if she was going to be a children's illustrator, 'otherwise you just have to sit and wait for other people's stories and that might take a long time!'

She brought along several of er sketchbooks and also the zigzag books and the miniature books she makes to show her agent and publisher, small early versions of the finished books. It was fascinating to see the gestation of the books. Some, like her latest book Hermelin, take years and start off in very different forms - Hermelin began as a story about missing cats. She uses a lot of bits and bobs in her initial sketchbooks, and brought a tiny cheesebox back with her from Prague, for Hermelin cheese, that seemed to be crying out for a small creature to live in it.

The sketchbooks are a glorious exploration of ideas and themes, sketches and storylines, which simmer together until they form something. She works on different ideas at the same time, cutting and pasting until she is ready to produce a zigzag book, a long concertina of a book where the words and images first really come together. There is a structural discipline to children's books - all illustrated children's titles have to fit into 32 pages - and that constraint makes the books somehow more focused. 'All the rough stuff where it doesn't have to be perfect is the most exciting part of making a book... The process can be less creative than you'd like it to be - you want them to say, "Be more weird!" - but they've got to sell the book...

'I've always used Dr Marten's watercolours but they do fade. I use ink, pencil, Quink. But I always come back to watercolours. I love the unexpectedness of watercolour. You can be messy with them. Masking fluid is good, you can spray - there is an unexpected, random element. I do try to make them messy. Some books are hard to be messy with...  My least favourite part of the process is the final artwork - you're committed then.'

Mini spoke about books she encountered as a child that particularly influenced her - Dr Seuss, Tove Jansson's Moomins, Edmund Dulac's watercolours, Arthur Rackham. She loves animation, too, in particular Wacky Races, Disney and the Cl;angers - 'Fundamentally, The Clangers, the home-made world of Oliver Postgate.'

- Did her English degree prepare her for her career? 'Words and pictures... I didn't think there was an option for words and pictures. I never did a proper art degree or training.  I should have done an illustration degree but it was seen as a lower form of art. Now it's got a new profile. Also, there are children's picture book courses - exciting things are happening now, they are seen as a proper art form.'

Someone asked whether she tested her books out on children - 'No! That's a disastrous idea! Children can be terribly cruel... Also, you have to be certain in yourself that something works. If you need to test it on a child, something's not right. And part of the reason for not showing work to children is that I don't want the book to be judged till it reaches a certain stage... Making the books is like playing, so maybe I'm thinking like a child. You go wherever your imagination takes you - all of us have got inside us the person that we were.

'Reading with a child is fantastic. Children's books build empathy in the brain. You need to imagine being in someone else's place, that's a key. Picture books do this. It's a journey you undertake with a child.'

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