Blue Manatee Children’s Bookstore is one of this Cincinnati Parent’s favorite spots. The weekly story times are lifesavers when you’ve got babies or toddlers; the craft times are always fun for busy preschoolers; the cozy purple couch and many nooks and crannies are perfect for cuddling up and getting lost in a good book.
So I was a little worried when I heard about the bookstore’s Great Migration. However, this “migration” turned out to only be a few blocks up the road; and the new space somehow is simultaneously new-and-improved and cozy and comforting.
As of this week, Blue Manatee is open at 3094 Madison Road — and here’s what you can expect:
Weekly story time themes — and Sunday activatees!
The new space is admittedly a little smaller — though you’d never know, as its very open and well-laid-out. So, story times will now follow a weekly schedule. For example, ManaTots will feature the same stories at all of that week’s story times; the next week, the stories/theme will change. This allows for parents to pick a time that works best for their schedule, and not feel like they’re missing anything. Of course, smaller kids love repetition, so definitely feel free to repeat a class your child loved!
Also, hours are expanded on Sundays — so feel free to brunch next door at Sleepy Bee before you browse! And there are lots of fun Sunday activatees on the schedule for maximum weekend fun.
Gorgeous window displays
Blue Manatee’s window displays are always fun to see — changing regularly with the seasons and holidays, and featuring a mix of classic books, new titles and thematically appropriate toys. The displays were always visible from outside on the street and inside of the store.
The tradition continues at the 3094 Madison Road: Blue Manatee’s new digs feature gorgeous, sky-high windows that start down at a toddler’s eye level. The current spring displays will make you want to go in and read about bunnies with your toddler.
Familiar places to cozy up
When you see your kid getting lost in a good book, it’s magic. And the old Blue Manatee had so many little spots to do just that. The new store does, too: Blue Manatee’s tot-sized train remains at the center of the store. There’s also the reading tree, which has been revamped to include leaf “cushions” for story time. And what about the purple couches? Well, they’ve been re-upolstered with soft material in a very soothing shade of blue.
Blue Manatee’s former location anchored Kids’ Row — but its new location is as much a part of the Oakley community as ever. For the new store, Blue Manatee teamed up with Brazee Street Studios to create one-of-a-kind glasswork for the space. As you enter the store, there’s a giant, glass fish hanging overhead. His name is Swimmy, and he’s made from lots of tiny, individual fish that were handmade during children’s classes at Brazee.
Local authors also love visiting Blue Manatee, as evidenced by the bookstore’s famous autograph wall. Part of this wall was preserved for the move and can be found at the story time hearth. You’ll also find imprints of all the favorites on specially designed glass bricks from Brazee Street Studios. These unique installation make for the most inviting alleyway ever.
The Manatee Mural
Blue Manatee’s old location had the most brilliant mural painted on the parking lot facade — so naturally, I wondered what would become of it. Well, turns out this beloved landmark is actually an ArtWorks creation, and will remain at its current home to welcome Kids’ Row customers, Oakley walkers and passerby cars.
The new Blue Manatee is as warm and inviting as ever — and, happily, once again open for business (and story time) as usual! Check out the new space at 3094 Madison Road in Oakley.