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Word: Greenpoint's Gem Bookstore

December 10, 2012

Storefront of Word- a gem of a bookstore in Greenpoint

WORD is one of Brooklyn’s flourishing independent neighborhood bookstores; a hub for serious and young readers alike, author events and even home to a basketball league.  Located in Greenpoint, the northernmost neighborhood of Brooklyn, the store is a mere 1000 square feet in size, but stacked with delicious reads and personable gifts in every possible niche. Located directly across from the American playground at the corner of Milton Street and Franklin Avenue, Greenpoint recently celebrated its fifth year in business.

Emily, the new store manager, is done with her shift.

The staff is super friendly and helpful. I sense that they love working there, ever ready to answer the questions of die-hard readers with dedication and humor.

And that helpfulness doesn’t stop at literary pursuits; “Between the Covers”, a matchmaking bulletin board in the shop, seeks to spark a romance between patrons who share a favorite title. Even the more expected bulletin board with postings for housing and services is quirky and poetic, reflecting the sentiments of Greenpoint’s newest artist-emigres.

These Childrens Clothbound Classics from Penguin are a must.

To make choices easier for parents, Word offers “The Word to Your Mailbox”, a subscription program to help families build their personal library. This program has been extended to adults for 6 months or for an entire year. For local talent, Brooklynites Peter Brown and Michelle Knudsen are two of their best selling children’s book authors.

In the New York City children’s section, I spotted a few books from my favorite illustrators: Mari Takabayashi’s “I live in Brooklyn”, Christoph Niemann‘s “Subway”, and “B is For Brooklyn” by Selina Alko, the Park Slope writer and illustrator.

Mari Takabayashi's "I live in Brooklyn", Christoph Niemann's "Subway", and "B is For Brooklyn" by Selina Alko, the Park Slope writer and illustrator.

With strong ties to the Brooklyn illustrators’ and writers’ community,  Word hosts a quite a number of readings and events.

Three to four events are scheduled every week with at least one per month geared to children. To differentiate themselves from other children’s story times, Word includes an activity like storytelling or crafting.  Jenny, a newly hired ex-librarian, will be expanding the kid’s programming in the near future. Like the store owner Christine Onorati, Jenny is the Mom of a 3 1/2 year old.

Jenny is the event manager.

They have an awesome Open House this Saturday (details at the end), with staff on hand to help you find the right books and gifts, “It’s a Wonderful Life” playing downstairs in the basement, a donuts-and-hot chocolate station, and some special guest authors to help wrap. All tips for wrapping will be donated to the Greenpoint Food Pantry.

I was happy to discover the work of Andy Pratt among the super cute cards from other local artists. His urban scenes note cards are $4.

Andy Pratt's cards

The large, full-size Spiketus Rex backpack from MadPax is $56. The toddler size version is $44, and the mini  $15.

Rex backpacks

I love these retro and adorable tee shirts for kids: “I Read Books”, and the adult version: “I’ve Read Books”, created by M+E Design, which range from $18 to $20. Also available are onesies that sport the phrase, “Read Me Books”, a gentle reminder for some literary food.

Lingering longer in Greenpoint, I liked strolling by the murals near the East River Ferry stop at India Street. They make great backdrops for snapshots of friends .

India Street Rocket by Eve Biddle & Joshua Frankel

On my second visit to Greenpoint, I remembered having seen an intriguing sign for a nature walk on Manhattan Ave., unexpected for the neighborhood. Trying to find it, I sort of got lost going under the Pulaski Bridge and I gave up. Locals in the know told that is was called the Newton Creek Nature Walk, and that indeed that it is amazing. I believe you need to take Paidge street to find it easily. Let me know what you think of the experience if you go!


10am-9pm every day
126 Franklin St. at the corner of Milton St.
Greenpoint Ave stop on the G
(718) 383-0096

EVENT: Saturday, December 15, 2012 – 10:00am

Come by and bring your list! We’ll have staff on hand to help you find the right books and gifts, “It’s a Wonderful Life” playing downstairs in the basement, a donuts-and-hot chocolate station, and some special guest authors to help wrap. All tips for wrapping will be donated to the Greenpoint Food Pantry.

Guest Gift-Wrappers:

Haley Tanner (Vaclav & Lena) and Josh Ritter (Bright’s Passage), Saturday, 2 p.m.
Peter Brown (You Will Be My Friend), Saturday, 3 p.m.
Katie Kitamura (Gone to the Forest) and Hari Kunzru (Gods Without Men), Sunday, 2 p.m.
Michelle Knudsen (Big Mean Mike), Sunday, 3 p.m.

Special Author Appearances:

Saturday, 5 p.m.
The Best Brooklyn Books with Pete Hamill
Hamill, who has been writing fiction about our fair city for years, will recommend the best Brooklyn books (aside from his own, of course), discuss his new short story collection The Christmas Kid, take questions, and sign.

Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
Adventures in Holiday Cartooning
Andrew Arnold (Adventures in Cartooning: Christmas Special) will lead children in a workshop to create their own comics as gifts for friends and family! All supplies will be provided. Recommended for ages 4 and up; all ages welcome.

Sunday, 4 p.m.
Craft Time with Craft-a-Day’s Sarah Goldschadt
Put a bird on it! Or a snowman, or a hexagon; the “it” in question being your gifts. Whether you’ve got your shopping done or not, you’re invited to come make gift tags for all the people on your list as demonstrated by Sarah Goldschadt, crafter extraordinaire and author of Craft-a-Day. All supplies will be provided. Recommended for ages 8 and up, all ages welcome.


A native of Valenciennes, France, Isabelle Dervaux has twenty-five years experience as an artist and illustrator in the magazine publishing and advertising world. She’s worked for Vogue, The New Yorker, Barneys, and for top clients around the world. She has had shows of her work in Paris, New York and Tokyo and has also taught Illustration and visual storytelling at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco and Parsons The New School for Design in New York.  Isabelle started creating “visual biographies” —still image sequences that tell stories of people and families, when she took on the task of sorting out 30 years of her own family photos. Visual biographies contain collages, illustrations and ephemera that complement the stories the photos tell.  Isabelle now teaches the skills and techniques she has discovered to help busy families enjoy their photos and videos instead of storing them in a box or a hard drive to be forgotten. Her Photo Organization Portfolio is here and her Illustration Portfolio is here.