Mabel’s Fables is a beloved children’s bookstore that has brought immeasurable joy to Toronto’s midtown Yonge & Davisville neighbourhood since 1988. Anyone who has had the pleasure of spending time in the beautifully shelved shop knows that it is as magical as the storybooks that colour its walls.
The two-storey shop, with an enchanting winding staircase, caters to children from infants to 18-year-olds. Staff members are always eager to help find titles that suit young readers, with a variety of different needs and passions. If you’re lucky, when you’re browsing, you’ll get to meet Mabel, the resident cat who is often lounging in the front window, or curled up in one of the many delightful book nooks.
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With Canadian Independent Bookstore Day approaching, we wanted to share the story of this longstanding Toronto gem. Owner Eleanor LaFave tells us all about the magic of Mabel’s Fables.
When did you become a reader? A lover of books?
My mother was a teacher and read to me from day one. Books were everywhere in our house.
Do you remember the first bookstore you fell in love with? A space that enchanted you?
Probably the first bookstore I fell in love with, and had a hard time leaving, was the bookstore at York University.
Because I lived outside of Toronto, I had only seen Coles bookstore in malls.
What is it about Mabel’s Fables that brings you the most joy?
One of the great things about Mabel’s Fables is our structure — we shelve books by age, from Baby to Young Adult. This makes it easy for people to find age-appropriate books so everyone gets reading material that they can immediately connect to. Also, all our booksellers love to talk about their favourites!
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What role does a bookshop play in a community, aside from a place to find books?
A bookshop is a cultural destination in a community, that reflects local authors and interests and also showcases worldly ideas. A bookshop is a doorway to the world.
When you first opened the shop, do you remember a particular book, book launch, or event that absolutely delighted you? Something that made you think I am so happy.
Too many great books and writers to choose one. But, when Robert Munsch and Jean Little came for visits in our first year, they were unforgettable.
What’s something that you’re working on now that you’d like to share?
The most exciting program we have ever introduced is our subscription program (our own version of book-of-the-month club) is still growing and very popular. We continue to get incredible feedback.
Visit Mabel’s Fables at 662 Mt Pleasant Rd in Toronto, or on their website.
Canadian Independent Bookstore Day (#CIBD2022) is on Saturday, April 30. Join readers, writers, illustrators, publishers, and other industry supporters to celebrate indie bookstores across Canada. For more info and event listings, head to the CIBD site.