Judy’s Books

Judy’s Books hover background

Mar 09

As part of a conversation at NoveList, I clicked over to a link about Read Across America and eventually landed on a page about Jack Prelutsky, the beginning of his career writing poetry, and Dr. Seuss. Immediately, I was flooded with memories of my childhood happy book place, Judy’s Books on Main Street in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Most librarians have memories of their local library and their local librarian; I have memories of Judy’s Books and Judy, the eponymous owner. My mom owned a small store, also on Main Street in Twin Falls. Accents for the Home sold Crabtree and Evelyn soaps, Fiestaware dishes, stamps (I was in to stamping before it was cool), and a host of other things. At the time, Main Street was a main street, in the way we think of them “back in the good ole days.” Next to my mom’s store was a soda and sandwich shop (where I could get actual vanilla Coke, freshly made). There was a department store, a movie theater, an art store, a jewelry store, a craft store where I learned to make wreath bows, and a bank where I used to walk down with the store’s deposit in the afternoon.

And then there was Judy’s Book’s. In the summers, when I wasn’t helping my mom in the store, I would walk down to Judy’s and browse the shelves. Judy had all the good stuff — Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, Sweet Valley HighThe Westing GameMy Sister MikeSound idyllic? Like the small towns that exist in romance novels only? It was. The woman who owned the art store once painted a unicorn on my face because I wanted to be Jessica Wakefield (I’m totally Elizabeth — but not in the terrible Sweet Valley Confidential). 

Judy had more than books. Judy had authors. Since a story about Jack Prelutsky started this post, I’ll save my story about Donald Sobol for another time. I love Jack Prelutsky. I had all his books and his tapes. Prelutsky sang his poems, complete with funny voices. After listening to Jack Prelutsky tapes over and over and over, *I* could sing all his poems, complete with funny voices.

Cover of New Kid on the Block

My favorite was “Euphonica Jarre.” Like Euphonica, I have a (singing) voice that’s bizarre, and like Euphonica, I warbled all day.

Judy brought Jack Prelutsky to the small city of Twin Falls, Idaho (population 25,000 in the 1980s).

I sat on Jack Prelustky’s lap and recited “Euphonica Jarre” to the poet, complete with voices and terrible warbling to mimic the recording.

Sometimes, I forget how amazing the gift of Judy’s Books was to my childhood. Then I come across articles like this one and think about how I’m an author and a librarian and how Judy and her store played a role in shaping my future.



  1. Addie Calvitt
    March 16th, 2017 12:54

    What a great memory! I haven’t thought of Jack Prelutsky in so long! He had an appearance in Ann Arbor, Michigan, back in the 90’s, and we took our young daughters to see him. He was wonderful! I think we still have his books.

    This has me thinking that I need to send some of his books to our granddaughters.

    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful memory!


    • Jennifer
      March 16th, 2017 13:39

      Jack Prelustky is the best! I’m sure they’ll love the nice presents.


  2. Chris Ryberg Scotton
    April 1st, 2017 23:05

    Jennifer, I’m thrilled to find you again, all grown up and a successful author and librarian. The blog about your childhood Main Street and bookstore was so lovely. With happy memories of the little street we all lived on in Shanghai…


    • Jennifer
      April 2nd, 2017 17:31

      Chris–how wonderful to get a comment from you 🙂 It’s nice to hear from old friends. I think of that little street in Shanghai a lot.


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