I have a super special post for you today. I am going to introduce you to the Gem of Newcastle... Seven Stories.
How I came across Seven Stories.
Late last year, November 2013, I got this email about two incredible US authors that were touring the UK. Holly Black and Sarah Rees Brennan and one of the places they were going was Newcastle. Now for those US/International followers I live in the North East of England in a small, pretty unknown town called Billingham. It's approximately an hour away from Newcastle Upon Tyne, the biggest city in the North East of England. It's very very rare for us to get signings in the North East, especially by YA authors so I was very excited to know that Holly and Sarah were coming to Newcastle.
Me and my good friend Bekah from Reflections of a Bookwork organised to go together to the book signing and I had automatically assumed that the signing was in Waterstones, the UK's biggest leading bookstore. We soon realised it was in the bookshop called Seven Stories. I had never heard of Seven Stories and found that this is truly the most amazing thing in the North East. It truly is a gem and I find it very sad that very few people have heard of it. Right then I decided that I had to come back to Seven Stories at a later date and have a proper look around. I finally managed to do that last week and me and Bekah got a special tour from Seven Stories events co-ordinator Lorna. May I just say Lorna is pretty much one of the coolest people I have ever met. And I really appreciated that she didn't look at me like I was a lunatic when I started fangirling.
If you want to hear more about the signing with Holly Black and Sarah Rees Brennan please click HERE for my recap post.
What is Seven Stories?
Seven Stories is a stunningly beautful bookstore that resides in Ouseburn Valley in Newcastle Upon Tyne. It's a little bit out of the way of the heart of the city but once you get there you appreciate just how amazing this place is.
The name Seven Stories is so clever as when you get into the place there are actually seven floors. When you enter Seven Stories you are actually on Floor 3, there are two floors below you and 4 floors up.
Now before all my fellow booknerds start passing out over a seven floor bookstore, Seven Stories is not just a bookstore. No there is not 7 floors of books for sale. I know, I know, I'd love seven floors of just books to explore too but what Seven Stories is is so much more. It is the National Center for Children's Books. If you're looking for more adult stuff then Seven Stories is not for you I'm afraidbut if you love Children's books and YA this place is like heaven!
Seven Stories is the only place in the UK that is dedicated to Children's Books and YA. The building was originally an old Victorian mill house and if (on the seventh floor) you look up to the ceiling and rafters above you can still see some parts of the machinery that was once there.
The seven floors of Seven Stories have been carefully restored and now include:
- House galleries for special exhibitions, performances and craetive space.
- A specialist children's and YA bookshop
- A Cafe
Seven Stories are the only custodian of the only collection in the world dedicated to telling the story of British Children's Literature from the 1930s to the present day. It is the home for the original manuscripts and illustrations of over 100 authors and illustrators work, including Enid Blyton and Philip Pullman.
The Seven Floors of Seven Stories:
Like I said previously when you first walk into Seven Stories you are actually on floor 3. I'm now going to take you through all 7 floors of Seven Stories.
Floor 1: Creative Station.
Events for children go on on this floor where they can make things, paint things and stuff like that.
Floor 2: Cafe
Found a good book? Nothing is better (to me) than a good book and coffee. This is the perfect place for you to sit and read your new found book.
The entrance of Seven Stories is amazing and beautiful and it really is like stepping into a fairytale. Want some swag? No problem. At the reception there's lots of stuff to buy like Seven Stories pens, bookmarks etc. It's awesome.
Then you have the gorgeous bookshop that I seriously just want to live in... but more on that later.
Floor 4: Sebastian Walker Gallery
This is the first of two main galleries where all the amazing exhibitions are held.
Floor 5: Robert Westall Gallery
The second of the humongous galleries where the exhibitions take place.
More on Floor 4 and 5 to come tomorrow when I showcase the amazing Exhibition Seven Stories currently has going on.
The story lab is where we get to see how the books are made and right now we get to see the process of how a picturebook is made. From the start of coming up with the story right through to it's publication and us being able to go and pick up the book in a store.
It reveals the creative imagination behind the children's book - from first scribbles to dummy books, roughs to final artwork
The final floor is probably one of the most exciting. The top floor of Seven Stories is where the majority of the events happen. This is the amazing room where the signing with Holly Black and Sarah Rees Brennan happened. See the chair? Yeah that's where they sat and exclaimed they were now on the Iron Throne. I love that they linked it to Game of Thrones (best show ever!)
There is a space right at the front where performances can happen and they have transformed it into a forest because, in the words of Lorna, if you can have a forest always have a forest.
The design of the attic is amazing. If you look at the ceiling not only can you see where it used to be a Victorian mill house but there are dummy books strung up on the ceiling.
There is even a picture of a "Incredible Book Eating Boy" on the wall and the hanging books seem to float towards his open mouth.
I adore that. It's so awesome.
Just around the corner from the performance area is a special dress-up are for the Children with lots of princess dresses and prince's costumes. There's even Hook's hat and Red Riding Hood's cloak.
The specialist book shop in Seven Stories is amazing. It's very specialist and focuses on children's and YA books.
They even have certain displays featuring books that have to do with the exhibitions that they currently have on. For example this one shows Coraline and Hugo to match with their Moving Pictures exhibition as both have been adapted from children's book to children's movie.
Despite the cafe on the second floor the specialist book shop also has a coffee machine and places to sit and enjoy your current read.
This gorgeous bookshop is where all of the book signings happen. I could actually just spend forever here.
Just off the specialist bookshop there's a children's picture book room with a very cool chair. This is where children's author reading take place. Isn't it gorgeous? I very much wanted to curl up with a book on that chair.
So that's it. That's everything you need to know about Seven Stories.
It's the beautiful, most amazing place in the world and a must-see for any fan of Children's and YA books.
Lorna is amazing and she even gave me and Bekah some secrets and sneak peaks about what's to come soon. No we can't say but as soon as I can then you know where to visit to find them out.
Seven Stories is quite possibly my favourite place in the world and it's worth a visit, whether for their beautiful building that is truly like a fairytale in itself (it's like jumping into your very own picturebook and exploring), the specialist bookshop or their phenomenal exhibitions, Seven Stories is THE place to be for authors, bloggers, readers and just general book lovers. It truly is the Gem of Newcastle.
30 Lime Street
I hope you enjoyed this post and look out tomorrow for a very special tour round Seven Stories brand new Moving Stories Exhibition.