Since reopening from lockdown in April, I have made the window displays at Mostly Books my personal project.
When I was little, there was a bridal shop on Ock Street in Abingdon. We would visit my grandparents in a neighbouring village most weekends, and on the drive home would beg mum to drive past the shop so that we could see the latest dress displayed in the window.
We would crane our necks to get a glimpse as we drove past, immediately deciding if we loved or loathed the dress. It became quite a family ritual that I remember some thirty years later.
It’s that ritual and excitement to see the windows that I want have at Mostly Books. I’ve been on a mission to have illustrators come and paint the windows, to hang window clings and fill the shelves with bright, colourful books.
Since April 2021, I’ve had illustrations of Ruffles and the Red, Red Coat, Where’s Brian’s Bottom? Poison for Breakfast and The Cat, the Rat and the Hat.
I’ve had life-size cardboard cut-outs of Marcus Rashford. The cut-out of Bob Mortimer brought people in from the street to tell us how much they loved him. The cut-out of Dave Grohl received four different offers of a new home when we were finished with him. (He went to a lovely lady’s 60th birthday party where he greeted guests at the door.)
In September I was contacted by a publicist offering us illustrator Harry Woodgate who would be creating window displays of their picture book Little Glow, written by Katie Sahota. Little Glow follows a small flame as they experience different celebrations around the world. I had the pick of potential paintings, including Halloween, Guy Fawkes, Diwali, Hanukkah and Christmas.
I immediately jumped for Diwali. We’ve never had a Diwali window at Mostly Books, and I personally think it’s fair to say that the publishing world tends to focus primarily on the Christian-centred celebrations of Christmas and Easter, then followed by Halloween.
I wanted us to do something people wouldn’t usually see and hopefully prompt them to find out more about it. My hope was to capture the celebration of Diwali and support our local Hindu community.
Harry put together the most sensational window for us that we immediately began receiving compliments on. Customers popped in to tell us how beautiful the window was. Others said how pleasing it was to see such colour now the cold dark nights are here. Another customer of Hindu faith said they were so happy to see a Diwali window and gave us chocolates!
I pulled together a range of children’s books – Little Glow, The Best Diwali Ever, Rama & Sita – The Story of Diwali, even Peppa Pig’s Diwali that filled our A-Frame. Each day that we have sold these books straight out of the window display, I have felt a huge sense of pride that we have given some representation to Diwali in our town.