Magic Tree serves more than children
Priscilla Williams and owner Iris Yipp of The Magic Tree Bookstore are ready to assist readers of all ages. | Meredith Morris~for Sun-Times Media
Other gift picks this holiday? From Magic Tree, Yipp recommends a Memory Challenge game, Book Lovers’ Edition, for adults, and 500-piece jigsaw puzzles representing works by Frank Lloyd Wright, Charley Harper and other artists.
For kids, a nice selection is the latest Olivia the pig story, Olivia and the Fairy Princess, which Yipp considers the best. And for young adults, Days of Blood and Starlight, the new Laini Taylor novel, and Every Day, by David Levithan, a tale about a young man who wakes up in a different body, in a different location, every day.
Updated: January 7, 2013 6:14AM
OAK PARK — Malcolm X — A Life of Reinvention and the latest novel by Ken Follett. The library? Borders?
Think again. The Magic Tree Bookstore, 141 N. Oak Park Ave., which isn’t just for kids.
“We’ve had adult things for many years. People don’t always know it,” said Iris Yipp, an Oak Park resident who’s owned and managed Magic Tree for 28 years.
Yipp caters to adults with a selection of books, cards and games, including a new section of the store devoted to family issues, such as healthy eating and raising a teenager.
“The nice thing is, because we have such a limited selection of adult books, we have the cream of the crop,” she said.
Adult selections are based on recommendations from fellow independent bookstores and with significant input from Magic Tree employee Priscilla Williams, also of Oak Park, who came to the shop about two years ago after more than 10 years at Barbara’s Bookstore.
Williams coordinates a Magic Tree book group for adults who enjoy reading young adult fiction. Composed of a core handful of members who meet from 7-8 p.m. every second Thursday, the group’s reads have included popular teen novels, some dealing with issues such as bullying and identity dystopia.
“From what my members have told me, they enjoy young adult (novels) more because it flows easier and it’s faster to get to the point,” Williams said. “You can read 300 pages of nothing in an adult book, but in young adult, it’s intense.”
The group will welcome T.M. Geoglein on Dec. 13, author of the novel Cold Fury.
“I like that we all have a genuine love of reading. I’ve been in book clubs where it’s all about the wine and cheese,” Williams said.
Teens and younger children remain the bread-and-butter audience of Magic Tree. The store is invitingly packed with children’s books, games and other finds, such as stuffed animals and stickers. Against one windowed wall is a comfortable seating area for story-telling.
“I love this store and I like to shop local,” said one Oak Park customer, Sarah O’Neill, who brings her 3- and 6-year-old children to story time. She enjoys the shop’s selection for her own children and for gift-buying.
Customers Adrienne Eyer, from Oak Park, and Megan Swift, visiting from out of state, appreciate Magic Tree’s well-informed assistance.
“We have advanced readers,” Swift said, referring to both women’s first and third graders. “To have a place when they have such a knowledge of the content of the book, you know your child is going to get something challenging to read but age-appropriate.”
Too often, the women explained, books that challenge their children contain unsettling subject matter.
“Books are magic, but you’ve got to get them the right magic. Emotionally, it has to be appropriate,” Eyer said.
Especially when gift-shopping, Yipp encourages mixing a book with a matching non-book item.
“We like to connect things,” she said. For instance, a good choice this holiday might be a book and a board game from the popular Wimpy Kid book series.
Yipp also offers an array of books by local authors. Some titles include Oh, No!, a picture book by Oak Parkers Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann, and Bad Apple, an illustrated story by Edward Hemingway, grandson of Ernest.
The Magic Tree Bookstore is open Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-4 p.m.