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A wooden, blue aeroplane hangs from the ceiling above the door, rocking gently to the tune of a warm afternoon breeze. The plane spins lazily, revealing a line of words in neatly painted script; “Woods in the Books”.
A cheerful hand-drawn sign stands outside, introducing Woods in the Books as a picture book shop. We walked into the cosy space, and our eyes immediately wandered to the ceiling and walls. Like children, we were drawn to the mobiles hanging from the sky. Toys, planes, pages from books. Then next, fairy tale murals that called out to me like the wardrobe from Narnia, delicate paintings that dragged from memory my Enid Blyton childhood; an elephant in a top hat, a turtle in a suit.
Having been a voraciously hungry reader as a child (most parents would be happy that their kids even read, but my mother had to put a quota on the number of books I was allowed to buy/borrow/rent in a week), to be suddenly surrounded by so many invitingly colorful covers that were but an introduction to greater adventures in the pages within, sent a tingle down my half-forgotten bookworm spine.
When I was a kid, every book presented to me a new world and a new adventure, adventures that would live in my mind long after the book had been read, closed and put back on a shelf or returned to a library. These adventures would accompany me in the lazy afternoons, alone at home, when homework was still a fairly foreign concept, when a child was still allowed to dream, and had not yet been told that not everything that one could imagine would come true. I was one of those kids who talked to my toys, treated them well, and apologized whenever I’d dropped them (probably a result of one too many Enid Blyton stories).
Of course, like most of us, I grew up. The friends I made in the adventures of my imagination, I slowly forgot. My talking dog companion, the magic far-away tree, the brown bear with his coat-tail, monocle and fine wooden cane, the golliwogs I’d always dreamt of owning but that most Singaporeans had no concept of. ‘Real’ life as we knew it punctuated my senses and overtook the carefree, dreamy days that used to constitute my existence.
Looking at the murals and artwork by Mike Foo (moof), co-owner of Woods in the Books, that decorated the store, it was like returning to a simpler time in my childhood where nothing was impossible as long as you remembered how to dream.
Quoting Shannon Ong (co-owner) who was quoting a customer; “People grow up too fast and may not know what they have lost. I’ve rediscovered that fun and wonder at your shop.” Concisely true, these were also the sentiments that were stirred within me. If I could re-imagine myself as a 5 year old once more, this place would have been heaven.
Woods in the Books is more than a shop for just children. As Shannon puts it, there are many simple truths in the stories of children that a complex adult has forgotten. We are taught so many valuable life lessons as children, but somewhere on the journey of life, some experiences make us hard and cause us to forget how simple it could be to be happy.
Situated in the distinctly artsy Ang Siang Hill/Club Street area, Woods in the Books was born a year and a half ago, with Mike Foo and Shannon Ong at the helm. One a graphic designer/illustrator, the other a former events organizer, the pair tell their story of bringing their respectives passions together to to create something they believed in and wanted to nurture. Taking a path that most of us aren’t brave enough to tread, they started this bookshop simply knowing that they wanted to make it happen before they could give themselves a chance to regret not doing it. While they admit that they went bravely into the business without looking back, they cautioned that it is not for everyone. Shannon added that, ‘Although (they) have made a bold decision, at the end of the day, (they) still need to fine tune the little things to make it work.’
Drop by Woods in the Books to refresh yourself and be re-inspired by the simple yet poignant philosophies behind these picture books, check out Mike Foo’s amazingly enchanting and beautiful drawings, and say hello to Mr Scotti, the actual head honcho behind the operations.
More pictures on our Flickr album here.
Woods in the Books
58 Club Street, Singapore 069433
Opening hours: Mon–Sat: 11am – 9pm / Sun: 12nn – 6pm