Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's Time For Some Crocodile Pie! Bookstore, That Is...

by Shrinking Violet Field Reporter
Boni Ashburn

The story of this independent bookstore reads like a movie script: Struggling but wonderful children’s book store, on the brink of closure, is rescued by a dentist who can’t bear to see it go out of business. She buys the store and the community cheers! Can’t you just see it?

Well, you can- just head over to Crocodile Pie in Libertyville, Illinois. It’s located in a non-descript strip mall, but don’t judge this book by its cover. Inside, the store is bright, spacious and well-designed, with an inviting wall of picture books and friendly stuffed creatures everywhere. You might find Dr. Kim Zizic, the dentist/store-owner, behind the counter, but if she’s not there, you’ll be lucky to find Amy Moran, the store manager, who will know exactly what to recommend. Or if it’s a Wednesday, you can join in Crocodile Karaoke with Amy’s husband Jackie, a professional musician.

Is Kim glad she bought the store, even in these tough economic times? “Yes!” says Kim. “I loved Crocodile Pie- my dental office is right next door to the mall and I would go there to shop on my lunch hour. I used to go to story time every week with my kids when they were younger.” She even has a photo of them doing just that hanging behind the counter.

Crocodile Pie still has those story times- twice a week, on Thursday and Friday at 10:30am, and they host other events too, like weekend birthday parties, Crocodile Karaoke and Camp Crocodile Pie- a $25 punch card kids can use to visit up to 10 times to participate in the daily craft/project/story/music.

Under its new ownership, Crocodile Pie has had several author events, most recently hosting Amy Krouse Rosenthal. And while the author events are something they strive to do as often as possible, Kim says, “Crocodile Pie is just a warm, fun environment, always open for hanging out.”

Making Crocodile Pie a meaningful part of the Libertyville community is important to Kim. She gives out Crocodile Cash to her child patients to encourage reading (and shopping at the store!), and she tours mother’s groups and schools to discuss dental health and reading. The store has also teamed up with local schools for a Shop-N-Share program, which offers a donation back to the school of 20% of sales during a certain time frame. Wishlists for teachers and kids are another thing they offer to help people pick out birthday presents or teacher gifts and keep people coming back to the store.

As a small, independent children’s bookstore, “we can’t carry everything,” Kim acknowledges, “but we have a lot of insight and knowledge and love for literature and our community.” Although it’s hard to agree with her about not carrying everything (they had every book I was looking for there!), Kim is dead-on about the benefits of shopping your local independent bookstore. If you live in the greater Chicago area, Crocodile Pie is worth the trip. And if you don’t, it’s still worth the trip- but you can also visit them on the web at

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About Boni Ashburn

-Boni Ashburn is a children’s book writer. Her first book, Hush, Little Dragon (Abrams Books For Young Readers) came out last year, and her next book, Over At The Castle, comes out next spring. This year, she has no books coming out, so she is writing furiously, reading furiously, and spending way too much time at bookstores.

And we're so glad she does! Thanks for this aMaZinG profile, Boni!


Dharma Kelleher said...

Crocodile Pie sounds like a poem by Shel Silverstein.

If you've never had Crocodile Pie,
You'll want to try it before you die.
With mosquito sauce and a crust of yak,
It's the only nibble that bites you back.

Yat-Yee said...

The story of the dentist/book lover rescuing an indie bookstore is so heart-warming. And how cool is the idea of the Crocodile Karaoke?

Dharma: love your Silverstein-esque poem.

R.L. LaFevers said...

Dharma, your poem ROCKS!

And I agree, Yat-Yee. The dentist/book lover is a hugely inspiring angle.

Mary Hershey said...

I want Dr. Zizic to be my dentist!!!

Thanks for the great profile about Crocodile Pie-- wow! All these great places. Who KNEW???


tanita✿davis said...

Oh, WOW. I love the name. I love the whimsy. Karaoke! A dentist! How cool is this place!?

Anonymous said...

Pass a slice of Crocodile Pie!

Jean Reidy said...

I grew up on Chicago's North Shore and went to high school in Mundelein. Most of my family still lives in Chicago and the burbs. Next time I'm "home" I'll be sure to stop in. Crocodile Pie looks like a completely enchanting escape.

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