Green Bean Books opened in Northeast Portland in the summer of 2009, and we at PNBA are excited about taking our children there. We want to check out the vintage vending machines and the secret cubbies, hang out on the deck with the mulberry bush reading fort and then head down the street for burritos after. Owner Jennifer Green answered our questions enthusiastically and sent more colorful photos than we can use. We love the energy of this new bookseller.
Number of Employees? 1, plus me, the owner
Neighborhood? Alberta Arts District
Store cat? No, we have a fabulous bookshop dog named Sebastian!!! Sometimes people come in just to see Sebastian (:
Creaky floors quotient (or some facts about your space)? We are in a cute, cozy old house with creaky hardwood floors. A few things that are unique about our shop are that we have vintage vending machines throughout the shop that dispense things like mustaches, beards and homemade finger puppets. There are also secret cupboards mixed in with the shelves that have tiny dioramas inside them for kids to discover. The dioramas are always changing and are based on books. Outside there is a wonderful deck area with a weeping mulberry bush that has been converted into a magical reading fort. When the weather is good, we do story time under there. Also in sunny weather, we have events on the deck, such as summer art classes, puppet shows and toddler movement classes. I am so happy with how this space turned out!
What led you to opening Green Bean? I was an elementary school teacher for 10 years and was ready for a new challenge. I love children’s books, of course, and want to share them with as many children and adults as possible. I also love being a community resource for families. It’s always been very important to me to add something positive to the community I live in.
Who are your regulars? I especially enjoy my regular customers. There’s Bridger, who’s obsessed with ocean life, Ben and Paul from down the street who sit and read comics and our couch all the time, and Clara who loves all the tiny things to discover in here.
What are some of the other businesses you frequent in your neighborhood? I love all the crafty shops on Alberta. Specifically, I go to Collage for great art supplies, Bolt for fantastic fabric and Close Knit for beautiful yarn.
What’s the best lunch within walking distance? I love La Bonita for great chili rellano burritos. And they are incredibly nice there too! Unfortunately I don’t think they have a website to pass along.
Name some of your bestsellers so far? I’ve sold a lot of copies of Wonder Bear by Tao Nyeu because it’s one of my favorites. It’s so magical! And it appeals to adults and children. Lately, I’ve sold several copies of A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, and Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin.
Name a book blog or website you frequent? I like to check out mitaliblog.com frequently because it has great multicultural book recommendations and reviews. I’m now choosing books for the Mercy Corps Action Center in Portland, so I try and keep really on top of the multicultural offerings out there.
A CD you’d love to handsell? I still like to push the Free to Be You and Me songs. They never go out of style.
A children’s book you love to give as a gift? One of my new gift favorites is City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems for my dog-loving friends.
Will you recommend another book? Jennifer Green reviews The Quiet Book, by Deborah Underwood:
This delightful book honors the varied ways throughout the day that a child may experience quietness. Beginning with the “First one awake quiet,” and ending with “Sound asleep quiet,” Underwood fills in all the quiets in between. From the shock of, “Look at your new hairstyle quiet,” the hope of “Making a wish quiet,” and the contentment of “Best friends don’t need to talk quiet,” Underwood demonstrates that quietness can represent a vast range of emotions. Liwska’s delicate animal drawings aptly express each quiet emotion that this charming book offers readers to ponder.
This delicate and charming gem of a book conveys all that I find wonderful about the logic of young children. Deceptively simple, these sweet observations (Ruth Krauss consulted with kids) and aphorisms such as “Mash potatoes are to give everybody enough” are paired with pen and ink sketches by Maurice Sendak. Although the pages are pocket-sized, text and image never fight for space in these carefully arranged vignettes. In this age of digital over-simulation, this slim volume offers a quietly funny respite.