A new children’s book store will open in Waitsfield’s Mad River Shops in early October. Inklings Children’s Books will host story-time readings, author visits and craft activities in addition to selling books for kids aged 4-16.
To kick it off, owners Brian Wray and Nicole Angel will host a launch party on October 14 starting at 9:30 a.m. There will be live music, snacks, and kids’ crafts.
“We are really excited to welcome everyone in,” Wray said, before describing the store’s whimsical story-time area adorned with a cherry tree and a grassy rug. The craft area, he said, will have modeling clay, beads, paint, paper, markers, and other supplies.
Wray’s favorite books as a kid were “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak, “Fish out of Water” by Helen Palmer, and anything by Shel Silverstein. He had his first children’s book published in 2017 and is now working on his sixth. Each takes up the topic of mental and emotional health for 4 to 8 year olds.
“Unraveling Rose” is about a stuffed bunny who works through feelings of worry and anxiety. “Max’s Box” looks at how kids might express their feelings rather than suppressing them. And “Maya and the Very Tall Wall” deals with finding confidence in one’s own voice.
Wray said that when he does readings of his books at schools, libraries and book stores, he finds that kids are not afraid to talk about their emotions. “I have yet to leave one of those readings and not be totally inspired by how kids open themselves up – not just about how to handle their own feelings, but about how they can help their friends.”
“We have to remember that kids are capable of every emotion that we as adults have – sadness, anger, anxiety, all of it,” he added. “What they don’t necessarily have is the vocabulary that allows them to articulate those emotions, or the perspective that these feelings will pass, and can be managed.”
Wray hopes that his books can provide that for kids who like to read. Although he wishes he could work as a children’s book author on a full-time basis, he said that it’s not exactly feasible. Wray and Angel both work as television producers, with Wray focusing on the genre of true crime.
Wray and Angel have split their time between The Valley and Brooklyn for the past 12 years and recently decided to make The Valley their permanent residence. Wray said that he was always inspired by The Valley and hopes that their book store functions as a place where people feel they can spend time.
The store will be located at 106 in the Mad River Green Shops in Waitsfield.