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hicklebee's for kids

Where Books Come Alive!
HICKLEBEE'S
1378 Lincoln Avenue
San Jose, CA 95125
(408) 292-8880
www.hicklebees.com
(April 2011 review)

front of hicklebee's overall feel & design
There's a pleasant vibe to the section of San Jose's Lincoln Avenue near the bookstore, it has almost a 1950s era feel to it, and feels very welcoming. The outside of Hicklebee's has an eye-catching, happy, and childlike look to it, and it continues once you're through the front door. You can see so much that catches your eye and draws you in many possible directions. The store is a fun place for kids and adults alike, and the many authors who have visited the store have left their artwork and writings all around. The ceiling is very high (and was patched with raw plywood when we visited) and the staff knows well how to use the extra wall space, inventive displays abound—high and low, big and small. There are some cleverly-designed fixtures in the front, (a giant display showcases big picture books perfectly), and our granddaughter loved the special reading area...she hung there for quite some time...perfect for booklovers. The store is just filled with all manner of fun, educational, and fun/educational books for kids, as well as plenty of toys, puzzles, and more for everyone. This is a special store filled with fine books and gifts, and you know that with this great staff, they're working hard to maintain a most unique place that is sure to make readers out of most any child who visits.    

staff
We were both very impressed with our own conversations with the staff, and it was a pleasure to hear how well they interacted with their other customers. So many customers walked through the door and headed immediately for a staff member—to get a recommendation—it's that kind of a store. Friendly and knowledgeable, clever and inventive, and obvious to all, hardworking. As someone well-versed in the high and lows of bookstore staffing, Hucklebee's is doing a great job in hiring and training these good people that make this store so good.  

the selection
The focus is books and gifts for the young, but though the book sections for the more mature reader are not as large, the selection is a quality one. I have never looked through as many picture books as I did during this visit. There was one good book after another. While I felt a responsibility to scope out the whole store, I kept finding myself drawn back to all those picture books. The selection of educational and instructional materials was extensive, but, your simple reviewer is pulled more towards artwork and text. Puzzles and toys were plentiful and looked like fun.  

hicklebee's inside display
The store showcases books in many effective and clever ways. Books to be featured in upcoming author events were seemingly everywhere. Shelf-talkers were on many shelves and they felt like they were written by actual people, very enthusiastic people. That huge display for big picture books is impressive. Your eyes will be very busy if you try to take in everything that is on display throughout this bookstore, but don't stop. There are lots of little areas and alcoves throughout the store, but you are always able to see around and don't feel isolated. Sure, there are some old bookcases that need a new coat of finish, or replacement, but this store deserves its stellar reputation.  

Something very unique to the store is the Hicklebee's Museum. I borrowed the words below from their website to say a little about what it attempts to be.
One of our goals at Hicklebee's is to bring books—the stories and characters—alive for kids. Employee Carol Schweppe and her artistic husband, Steve, set this in motion with the creation of the Hicklebee's Hall of Fame. You can find the acorn that fell on Chicken Little's head, the magic pebble Sylvester held, among many other wonderful things. Authors and illustrators have added to our artifacts. Hundreds of these are displayed all over the store.  

store events
Take a look at the store's events calendar, and you quickly understand why there are so many author signatures around the store. They don't just have a lot of authors appearing at the store, they have a lot of top-notch writers coming every month. This events calendar is the "big time" when it comes to writers for kids of all ages.  

hicklebee's inside

website www.hicklebees.com
Their website is entertaining and has a great deal of information on it. They have lists for suggested summer reading, links to community partners (reading, the arts, and more), lots about upcoming events, many pictures of the Hucklebee's Museum, information about fund-raising possibilities, a gift registry. ENOUGH. Just visit the site.                     

kudos for things that caught John's eye
   — lots of special book displays all through the store
   — as I didn't go, Vicky had to tell me about the sketches and author signatures in the bathroom

bathroom art

   — one extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful staff that seems to be very community-minded   

?
maybe change
   — it won't sell one book for them, but the the missing sections of their ceiling really need work  
   — better signing and better lighting (lose the extension cords & clip-on lights!) would help
   — fresher fixtures to replace old, worn-out ones
  
— add a display of staff recommends...everybody will take a look

front of store with color 

store hours (as of this April 2011 review)
Monday-Wednesday & Saturdays 10am-5:30pm
Thursdays & Fridays 10am-8pm
Sundays Noon-4pm

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