An independent bookshop has posted a children’s fantasy novel about a space war between humans and aliens to Donald Trump to “help fill” the White House shelves and show how books can “destroy ignorance”.
Kenilworth Books owner Judy Brook and her colleague Tamsin Rosewell decided to post SF Said’s middle-grade fantasy book Phoenix, (David Fickling Books) illustrated by Dave McKean, to the US president. The pair tweeted the letter to Trump along with the bright purple package containing the book.
The tweet, which they posted from their @KenilworthBook account last week, has been retweeted almost 30 times and liked almost 50 times. The letter from the Warwickshire shop said: “We’ve seen the many circulating images of White House bookshelves empty save for a few business-focused missives. We feel strongly that of all books, it is fiction that speaks to us of ourselves and our times with clearest voice; it is therefore on of the most powerful weapons that mankind can create. A book can destroy ignorance and prejudice within a few pages; something gunpowder has never achieved. Therefore we have chosen a book to send to you, to help fill those shelves.”
Brook told The Bookseller that sending the book “was a good feeling” and that complete strangers had come into the store to say how much they liked the letter, which has also been placed in the window alongside a display on writing about migrants.
The owner said: “It was one of those things which we were talking about together and my colleague Tamsin was looking at the reports of the White House which were empty of books except for those business ones written by Trump himself. I was re-reading Phoenix by SF Said because we recommend it a lot. I was at the chapter about a space war between the aliens and the humans and it was about a boy who was being treated badly and degraded and I thought ,‘this rings a bell’. We sent a letter because it is a very open way to show how important literature is. We wanted to say gun powder has never broken down barriers but words can make the difference. It is a good feeling [to do this], it is a good thing to do. It is our responsibility to make a stand. It is important to be able to do this.”
Brook explained that the message caused a stir before it was even posted. She said: “Tamsin wrote the letter because she’s good with words. We chose the sparkly envelope because we like sparkly things. When Tamsin took it the post office she was telling people about it and so it was even causing a stir in the post office. We sent it last week and there’s been no word yet but it’s early days, it would be fantastic to get a reply.”
The shop has had a strong response from both regulars and strangers. Brook said: "We have had people who aren’t regular customers coming and saying: ‘I love the letter, well done’. The feedback has been great and we’ve done a window display focusing on writing about migrants. We've joined in with the One Day Without Us [National Day of Action on 20th February] which looks at the contributions that migrants have made. We started with Paddington and the quote [from the 2014 film]: ‘Long ago, people in England sent their children by train with labels around their necks, so they could be taken care of by complete strangers in the country side where it was safe. They will not have forgotten how to treat strangers.’”
Brook has been owner at Kenilworth Books for around two years and the store itself has been going for half a century.