Friday, 9 May 2008


I had a very sad invite yesterday - to attend a farewell party for the staff at Heffers bookshop in Cambridge's Grafton Centre. It closes on 21 May.

I have been particularly involved with the children's section there over the last few years. I have been to so many well-attended events there - both as an author and as a punter. I will be very sad to see it go, and so will many, many other people in this area. It will be missed by children first and foremost; by their parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles - and by those of us who write and illustrate for children.

Children's bookshops are one of the areas in book selling where the purchaser often does not quite know what he or she wants. They need a pleasant place to browse, but they also need help and advice from staff who know about children's books and love them. Kate Johnson at Heffers is just such a person and I wish her well with her move to the Trinity Street branch.

A few years ago Cambridge had a dedicated Children's Bookshop in Trinity Street as well as a dedicated Art Bookshop, both under the Heffers banner. It seems terrible that a city like Cambridge cannot support such shops. And now we have lost another.

I met Suzanne Jones, the events organiser for Heffers, for coffee in the Trinity Street branch. Suzanne is another reason Heffers is so important to the cultural life of Cambridge. She is one of the most energetic and enthusiastic people I know and has been hugely supportive of local writers and incredibly encouraging of me personally. People like Suzanne make a difference. A real difference.

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