Beguiling the Children
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Beguiling the Children

Comics shop The Beguiling has opened an offshoot, called Little Island Comics, just for kids.

The storefront of new comics shop Little Island; the store's logo was designed by Steve Manale.

In the Annex, past Honest Ed’s and just down Bathurst street, there’s a little island. An island where books spur imagination and parents are welcome to learn right alongside their kids.

Little Island Comics is a bookstore with the unique distinction of being one of the only comic shops in the world that’s completely aimed at children. It’s an offshoot of The Beguiling, its sister shop, which resides on the other side of Honest Ed’s, on Markham Street.

Taken together, the two locations almost form a loose comics neighbourhood in the Annex, where young readers can start at Little Island and then “graduate” to the Beguiling. While the Beguiling features comics, art compilations, and the occasional shelf of erotica, Little Island is aimed at something a little lighter.

Stepping into the store, you can see it was designed with children in mind: the shelves are low to the ground and painted in bright, inviting colours. Inside, a mother converses with a clerk as they try to figure out what would be appropriate for her young son, Julian. While Julian flips through a book with large pictures, the clerk suggests something that he could possibly grow into as time goes on.

Little Island stocks titles for children who are just starting to read as well as comics that are geared towards the more advanced fan. They also have a large stock of continuity-free, family-friendly books with characters like Spider-Man and the Avengers, as well as a collection of translated Japanese manga.

“What I hear from librarians is that the thing that circulates most is manga. I think there’s a bunch of reasons for that,” Andrew Woodrow Butcher told us. As general manager of Little Island, he has been overseeing the store’s soft launch—which took place yesterday—in preparation for something with a little more fanfare down the road. While shelves are stocked, there’s still an area under construction (behind a curtain at the back of the shop) where the staff hope to host author visits, children’s workshops and other lively events.

“This space landed in our lap and had a retail storefront, and because we spend a lot of time selling to school libraries, we had a team of people who are specialized in comics for young people. We had a team in place, we had an inventory in place, and it just kind of came together,” he says happily. “We have deep, specific expertise; something that you might not find in a general bookstore with a children’s area,” Butcher said. “Not all comic stores are meant to be kid-specific environments.”

Little Island Comics can be found at 742 Bathurst Street. The store is open 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from 12–6 p.m. on Sundays. They can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 416-901-7589.

Photos by Matt Demers.