What?: “Smallprint is about the types of kids’ books that we love as adults”. I read this Forest Hill store’s ‘about’ page a good few months before our visit and immediately knew I would love it – after all, as parents of preschoolers we’re the ones who are going to be reading the books, so we might as well pick ones we’re all going to appreciate. “…brilliant interactive books for babes and crafty masterpieces for the pre-schoolers“, it went on. “…we couldn’t find a one stop shop for lovely books that were special enough to be given to our friends and families, a bunch of people who love nice things and appreciate quality design”. YES, I thought. This is exactly how I feel. “…so we thought we would create it”. Amazing, I thought, I’m so there.
So anyway life got in the way as usual but we finally made it down to SE23 on a Friday afternoon at the end of March – an hour before closing and mid-toddler-ukele class, which was a shame since it rendered the little reading/workshop area at the back of the shop unusable (although obviously Bab decided she was going to sit and watch the entire thing unfold anyway, despite my attempts to lure her away). Another unfortunate occurrence was the loss of my purse immediately prior to our visit (Bab hid it among the foam bricks at the pub soft-play session we’d been to that morning), which meant no money for me and no books for Bab. All I can say is thank God she’s still at an age where she doesn’t ask me to buy her stuff, or we’d have been completely screwed here.
To be honest, there’s not a single book Smallprint sells that I wouldn’t buy if I had all the money. Its range is large but expertly chosen, with beautifully illustrated modern classics by Chris Haughton, Herve Tullet, Oliver Jeffers, Jon Klassen and Beatrice Alemagna, to name just a few. The shop also stocks the full Little People, Big Dreams range of dreamily illustrated children’s biographies, as well as plenty for tinies, including Babylit’s board-book classics, Wee Gallery’s sound books and Hannah and Holly’s tactile baby titles (Galia Berstein’s I am a Cat, Luke Pearson’s Hilda series and Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski’s Welcome to Mamoko are all topping my wishlist right now, for anyone who’s interested/buying).
In addition to selling amazing books, Smallprint is housed in a really beautiful space that plays host to a variety of creative writing classes, workshops and weekly regulars including baby sensory, ukulele-led music classes and no-frills, older-generation storytelling for kids like mine who don’t see their grandparents often. All books can be purchased from Smallprint’s gorgeous website – just in case you don’t have time to pop down to Forest Hill – which also includes a lush blog for your browsing pleasure. If you can get there though, this place is well worth the trip.
Where?: Smallprint can be found at 34 David’s Road, Forest Hill, and is a three-minute walk from Forest Hill mainline and Overground station.
Price Range: More expensive than Amazon, obviously, but worth it to shop an expertly curated selection in a beautiful environment and with the knowledge you’re supporting a small business.
Best Bits: Aesthetically beautiful store and website offering a truly magical selection of books.
Worst Bits: I was understandably discouraged from letting Bab get involved with the ukulele class (which was for older kids anyway and had already started), which she was not in any way happy about – and I was a bit sad we couldn’t explore the reading area with its little teepee.
Did We Buy?: Nope, no purse.
Would We Come Back?: Yes.
Bab makes herself at home at Smallprint, Forest Hill.