A few short minutes later she was standing white and shaky beside me, the remains of her lunch deposited unceremoniously in the gutter nearby. "I feel better now, Mummy," she said bravely, "we can go on now." "Let's just take a bit of a walk before we get back in the car, eh?" I replied. (Can you see that I was trying to be a good caring mummy now?) We had only walked a few steps though when I turned back into a bad mother again...I spied something very dear to my heart...
...a secondhand book shop. One I hadn't yet plundered.
The pull was so strong...
"Once he hears to his heart's content, sails on, a wiser man." says Homer in The Odyssey of the Siren's song, but like the Sirens' singing lured unwary sailors, so the shop seemed to call to me, and alas I proved myself not a wiser man.
" Can I just look for one book," I heard myself asking my now recovered seven year old daughter, adding politely, "please?"
"One," she cautioned.
I fully meant to obey my daughter, honestly, but look what I found when I walked inside!
Oh my! This was no cluttered old shop. It was beautiful! It even had a coffee shop. If only we had scratch and sniff computer screens - the fragrance of fresh brewed espresso mingled with old books was just sublime. Can you just close your eyes and imagine?
This isn't the best of it though...
"Excuse me," I addressed the smart lady behind the counter, "Do you have Amy Mack's Bushland Stories?" (Nobody has Bushland Stories at a reasonable price - I've been looking for it for years.)
And then came this amazing reply -
"It's 15 dollars. I'll just get it for you."
Gobsmacked (yes, a nice lady-like term, I'll admit, but that's how I felt), I followed the lady past the calling shelves of books through to the back of the shop - past the coffee. Past a group of ladies knitting in beautiful jeweled coloured yarns. Past a couple of women talking about walking the 1200km Heysen Trail.
Back to this - the children's room. I'll say it again - THE CHILDREN'S ROOM. May I remind you that I'm talking about a used bookshop here?
Now Bushland Stories was exciting enough, but here was a room full of Australian Children's classics - shelves of them. Overseas AO type classics too. My eyes were boggling. There were titles here that I'd only dreamed of seeing in real life. There was May Gibbs, Peg Maltby, Ivan Southall, Colin Thiele, Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and even a Vojtěch Kubašta pop-up book.
Look closely into this cabinet at the very back of the children's room - I did...
See the book with the grey cover? That's May Gibbs' Nuttybub and Nittersing sitting there. In full view. Never did I think I'd see this anywhere - except Dromkeen maybe.
It's still sitting there. You can buy it if you have a spare hundred smakeroonies. Lots of other treasures aren't.
As I walked through the door, bags bulging at my side Jemimah looked at me accusingly, "You said one book, Mummy. One." Yeah, yeah, I'd failed again. Such a bad mummy.
Oh, I suppose you might want some details, eh? One of my readers has relos in Ballarat, I know...
The Known World Bookshop
14 Sturt St, Ballarat
Mobile: 0438 412 670
Phone: +61 (0)3 5332 8114
Michelle sells online too, if you really need Nuttybub. You won't get Vojtěch Kubašta's Hansel and Gretel pop-up book though. It's now mine, all mine!! So's Bushland Stories. Reviews coming soon, Ruby.
Photos from the website.