All Ages

Independent Bookstore Road Trip – Prairie Fox Books

April 4, 2021 | Community

Remote learning was done for the school year and we were craving a visit to a real bookstore again…

After some research, we found this appealing little store tucked away in the small town of Ottawa, IL, about 90 minutes from Chicago. Prairie Fox Books was open for curbside and in-person visits, so we donned masks and gloves, gassed up the car, and hit the road.

It turned out to be a gem that was well worth the drive (and the frantic hunt for a public bathroom when it was time to return… but that’s another blog).

The staff was knowledgeable and gave us some great suggestions, especially for grades 3-5 and 6-8.

We left loaded with new books and a major bookstore crush on this quaint little spot.

Here are just a couple of my favorite books that their knowledgeable staff put into my hands:

Sunnyside Plaza by Scott Simon

A beautiful story with a developmentally disabled protagonist who is not portrayed as helpless or hopeless.

The setting is her adult group home, which is the subject of investigation after several tragic incidents. The characters take the investigation into their own hands to defend a place they deeply love.

A great selection for building empathy with kids in Grades 6-8. You and your child will want to keep reading.

24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling

The story deals with bullying, teamwork, and a hunt for gold in the desert.

The recommendation by the School Library Journal hooked me immediately, “Reminiscent of Louis Sachar’s Holes.” My family adored reading that book aloud together so my hopes were high for this one and it came through.

A glimpse of Ms. Bowling’s descriptions of some of the main characters gives you a great taste of the conflict in this story:

“Bo Taylor: a thirteen-year-old in the body of an eighteen-year-old with the mind of an eight-year-old.

Me: a thirteen-year-old in the body of an eight-year-old with the mind of an eighteen-year-old.”

Second through Fifth Grade readers with a taste for adventure stories will definitely be hooked.

As another enticement to visit…

There’s a cute independent coffee shop (Jeremiah Joe Coffee) next door with delicious chai tea lattes and a fun tap room across the street (Tangled Roots Brewing Co).

And if you have read the book, Radium Girls by Kate Moore

There is a statue in honor of the real radium girls at the sight of the former Radium Dial Company, just a couple of blocks away.

It’s a book we highly recommend for adult book clubs and it still has me thinking about safety in the workplace.

(The movie trailer is linked HERE.)

To sum things up…

If you’re driving through Illinois and looking for a great day trip that includes a fabulous independent bookshop, yummy coffee, delicious craft beer, AND a quaint downtown area, head to Ottawa – it’s a lovely little escape!

– Connie O & Mandy G, New Book Joy Founders

Don’t miss out on NEW BOOK JOY!


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