Jane, thanks so much for doing this interview with us. So, tell us how it happened that you came to be the owner of the new store?
My mother Ruth Ann was in buying books for her grandchildren, when her friend Muriel Johnson told her the bookstore was for sale and that she was retiring after being there for 24 years. We knew instantly that this was the business for our family.
Tree House Books has an interesting history, as the store itself is located in the old Ashland Bank- with the bank vault now called The Secret World. Give us a little rundown on some of the history behind the Tree House.
Well, as well as housing Ashland Bank in the early 1900’s, it was also a mortgage company, a men’s clothing store called “Adam’s Leaf” and Rare Earth had a short stint here.
What was your first goal in taking over the book store?
We want to honor the longstanding tradition of providing the Rogue Valley and its visitors with an outstanding selection of children’s literature, and to add a touch of pixiedust. We have added more bookshelves for our growing collections and many sparkly treasures to make shopping at Treehouse an adventure for the imagination.
Please share some memories with us around your own childhood and the reading of children’s books?
Both Dirk and I have always been enthusiastic readers since early childhood. He read every kid’s book in his entire childhood library and then went on to read the grown-up books. My uncle Roger Murray always gave books as gifts to me and all of his nieces and nephews. (His son Ian worked at the Tree House for the past year through the end of summer.) For me, the favorites were the Hobbit & the Lord of the Rings trilogy, A Wrinkle in Time series, the Narnia series and Watership Down. On family camping trips my parents indulged our desire for comic books – Wendy and Caspar the Ghost, Archie, & Richie Rich. Heh heh.
How about raising your own kids?
Our kids are Alena -22, Brenna-20, and Talen-19, all of whom help out in the store when they are living in Ashland. Our favorite read-aloud series when they were young was Harry Potter, and it was hard to wait for each new book to come out. All of our children’s grandparents are avid readers, and they always gave us books for gifts, so we had a great selection at home. We also have fond memories of going to the Ashland Public Library and leaving with heaps of great books to borrow.
You created a new space opening up the windows more, letting in more light, painting, rearranging books shelves and creating a new kids space in the back room. Tell us about the inspiration behind your work?
We inherited a tremendous amount of goodwill when we bought the store. So many people express how much they have always loved the store, and how grateful they are that it is still thriving. We feel so lucky to be there, and I love the work that I get to do. New community events will continue to grow at Tree House. We strive to make the Tree House an even more magical place than ever by planning fun events for kids. Along with our monthly First Friday Artwalk Imagination Celebrations, we hosted the First Annual Talk Like a Pirate Treasure Hunt with 9 other children-friendly shops downtown.
We want to make Tree House the fun store that uplifts the spirit and brings joy to our customers. We want to inspire curiosity and the love of reading.
What would be your top holiday gifts you might recommend this season?
1) Storyworld – Create-a-story kit for storytellers of all ages
2) Silk and Bamboo Kites from Weifang, China, the kite capital of the world
3) The Legos Book of Ideas – Ideas to use the legos that you already own.
4) Fandex Family Fieldguide of Knowledge – beautifully illustrated decks of cards on various topics
5) Folkmanis Puppets
6) Children’s Spirit Animal Cards with guidebook
7) Star War’s Wookie’s Cookie Cookbook
8) Little Box of Mermaid and Fairy Treasures – include both books, crafts & a mini doll
9) Wonderlust – by Brian Selznick, author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret (also a great book!)
How about top travel entertainment books?
1) Orgami on the Go
2) Travel Bingo game
3) Olivia (traveling case)
4) Papertoy Monsters
5) The Creativity Books (Dragon, Pirate, Princess, etc)
Your favorite kids story of all time?
Dirk’s is Ferdinand the Bull, and mine is The Hobbit, although that doesn’t feel right to only get to pick one!
Who is the most mysterious character you have read of recently?
That is definitely Mr. Papers, a monkey who communicates through origami, in local author Christy Raedeke’s Prophecy of Days series, which was the book for last month’s secret book club.
Have you done “The Wild Rumpus”?
We actually did our version of this at our store’s blessing party with our friends last year inside Tree House. If anyone was looking in the windows at that time, now you know what “That” was about! It also involved a Scottish ditty that my grandpa James taught me…Eerie Orey Ickery Umm!
Any suggestions to parents looking for a good book series for 12 – 14 year old girls?
We like the Prophecy of Days books, the Kiki Strike series, Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, and also a new book by Catherynne M. Valente called The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making (first in a series).
Have you found Waldo?
We Always L ove Dreaming Outloud. Seriously though, the new Waldo Postcard book is awesome!
Last but not least, I know you have a long list of exciting things to share with the community, Can you share a couple with us?
Currently we are hosting The Secret Book Club for kids ages 7 to 14.
This season we are planning a lantern-making workshop and inviting families to join us in the Festival of Lights procession.
Our annual Grandparent’s Sale is the 4th week in November-exact dates tba.
Details of all of our events are posted on our website ashlandchildrensbooks.com and our Tree House facebook page.
Any last words or advice for our readers?
Thank you for your gracious support and encouragement. We love our town, our customers and our little store. We have something for everyone, as there is no age limit to fun and an appreciation for learning and whimsy!
Your Contact Information:
Hours 10-5pm Mon, 10am to 6pm Tue – Sat, 11am to 5pm Sun.
Address 15 North Main Street, across from the Lithia Water Fountain