Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Shop Around the Corner: What was the "Storybook Lady" Reading?

You've Got Mail is one of those cozy movies my daughter and I can watch again and again!  How about you?

For us, the setting (a children's bookshop in New York City) and the music (Nora Ephron's movies always have brilliant soundtracks of oldies and forgotten treasures), play as much of a starring role as the actors.  

And who better to make you feel good than Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks?

When watching the movie, I'd never taken the time to figure out which book Meg Ryan's character, Kathleen Kelly, is reading as the "Storybook Lady".  But this time I quickly paused the dvd to see the book's cover...

And saw the word B-O-Y.  And I listened carefully to the passage she was reading aloud to the children...

I must tell you, therefore, that it was I and I alone who had the idea for the great and daring Mouse Plot. We all have our moments of brilliance and glory, and this was mine.

“Why don't we,” I said, “slip it into one of Mrs. Pratchett’s jars of sweets? Then when she puts her dirty hand in to grab a handful, she'll grab a stinky dead mouse instead.”

The other four stared at me in wonder. Then, as the sheer genius of the plot began to sink in, they all started grinning. They slapped me on the back. They cheered me and danced around the classroom.

“We'll do it today!” they cried. “We’ll do it on the way home! You had the idea, so you can be the one to put the mouse in the jar.”

Boy by Roald Dahl

The passage that we see Kathleen Kelly reading during her book shop's story time to the group of kids is from Boy: Tales of Childhood, an autobiographical children's novel written by Roald Dahl.

Kathleen Kelly's bookstore in the film was based largely on Manhattan's  Books of Wonder.  Meg Ryan worked the counter at Books of Wonder for a day as part of her preparation. Decorative props from the film can still be seen at the store.

The children's book store scenes in the film were actually filmed at Maya Schaper's Cheese and Antique Shop on 103 West 69th Street (which has since closed - life imitating art?). 

Did you know that You've Got Mail (1998) is based on a classic movie starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan?  The title?  The Shop Around the Corner (1940), of course! (Another film we watch again and again!)

Jame's Stewart's Alfred Kralik and Margaret Sullavan's Klara Novak.

[Source, and more fun You've Got Mail movie trivia here.]


  1. I absolutely love the movie "You've Got Mail". It's a perfect film to watch on a cold day.

  2. Did you know that Judy Garland was in the first remake of "The Shop Around the Corner"? It is called "In the Good Old Summertime." It's in a music shop that time around. I love all three movies!


    1. No, I haven't - it looks adorable!! I'll have to see if I can find that one too. Thank you! :)

    2. I love all three movies too. A cold Saturday afternoon is a good time for a marathon of the three movies.

  3. This post if one of my favorite, since the Nora Ephron's books are touching. She simply turned her grief into joy-cooking-when her husband cheated on her, and the booking writing, do you feel she loved her home and family dearly? She seemed to present the very heart of parent who dealt with tragedy in a way to bless others?
    I have read the book by R. Dahl, BOY. He was an odd ball in his marriage to the actress Patricia Neal, where he took care of her during her pregnancy and illness, yet cheated on her, and still came up with the most wonderful children's books. Patricia Neal was a very strong actress. Dahl still appears as an oddity in children's writings, but the children love MATHILDA (MOVIE TOO), JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, WITCHES (kids in my fourth grade library class loved these book children for the children presented strength under siege by adult neglect?
    I am going to look at some of these bookstores and films again. Thanks, this made my day full of joy reading... Mrs. ATK