Tell us about The Alligator’s Mouth.
The Alligator’s Mouth is a specialist children’s independent bookshop located up a picturesque alleyway off Richmond high street. We pride ourselves on being at the heart of the local community, and our mission is to reach all readers: the confident, the beginner, and the reading-resistant. We stock books from baby up to late teen, as well as a small but well-curated selection of toys, board games and cards, and, have strong connections with local schools, providing stock for events or stocking libraries. We regularly host events with authors and illustrators (such as Axel Scheffler, Cressida Cowell, and Chris Riddell), as well as running our own Storytime and Folktale Friday sessions for younger readers, an immersive Book Club and the hugely popular Comics Club, to encourage all forms of creativity. We have also founded the Alligator’s Mouth Award for illustrated early fiction, championing the authors and artists who create engaging and exciting books for 6 to 8-year-old readers. The award is now in its second year, with Nick Sharratt’s brilliant Nice Work for the Cat and the King scooping the prize last year.
Describe the shop in three words.
Welcoming, bright, and well-stocked. (Phew, that was hard!)
What makes your Bookshop unique?
I think that our warm environment and sense of community coupled with the hugely extensive knowledge of the staff makes for a unique and winning combination. We try our complete hardest to find the exact book that the customer needs at that time, and that would be impossible without having friendly booksellers who know the shelves like the back of their hands. We also curate our stock with what we love and what we know works; from the well known and well-loved classics to the quirky and unfairly underhyped.
What do you love about working there?
I absolutely adore working at the Alligator’s Mouth and feel immensely grateful that this is my job! As cheesy as it sounds, I love finding the right book for the right child and seeing their faces light up when they’re hooked by the sound of a particular story. I’m also incredibly lucky to have wonderful bosses and coworkers who are constantly inspiring and encouraging me, as well as cultivating my creativity and interests – whether we’re flailing over a book we loved, comparing the covers of foreign editions or discussing an up and coming new title, they are some of the best people I’ve ever met.
What are you excited about reading next?
I have a list as long as my arm (and then some), but a few that I’m hoping to prioritise next are King Coo by Adam Stower (not a new title but one I’ve heard nothing but positives about), Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds, and the third volume of the delightful LGBT+ YA graphic novel Heartstopper by Alice Oseman. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg, and if anyone has a way for me to pause time so I can read more books then please point them my way asap.
Which upcoming events should we look forward to?
We are excited to have Jim Smith (of Barry Loser fame) popping by on Wednesday 5th February to sign copies of his new book (and maybe share some donuts too!), and our next Folktale Friday is sure to draw a crowd on Friday 7th February. We are also hosting the brilliant Really Big Pants Theatre Company on Wednesday 19th February for a special reading and performance session. More details and new events can be found on the events page of our website and our social media accounts (@alligatorsmouth), we which regularly update as soon as events are confirmed!