Our latest Bookseller in Spotlight is Lizzie Francis from Squishy Minnie, a delightful children’s bookstore in Kyneton, Victoria.

How did you get into bookselling?
Apart from the heart skipping non-fiction wall at Squishy Minnie? Squishy lured me back into the retail world through a deep love of writing, creativity and curiosity, but it’s the welcoming shared space that makes it a truly unique and inspiring place.

What do you love most about being a bookseller?
Oh, there’s so much. Stories give us a chance to feel out new perspectives, hear diverse voices and deepen our understanding of our own and others’ experiences. Helping young people find the stories that interest them, whatever they may be, is a constant joy.

What’s your pet peeve about book retail?
There’s never enough time to read all the fabulous new titles coming through the door. Though we could always use more reading copies in our little regional home!

Has bookselling changed during coronavirus?
Well, our transition to a 2020 book (and jigsaw) delivery service was certainly a big change! And I suspect that many readers have fallen back in love with books, or discovered reading for the first time, enjoying the solace and adventures they can bring. We’ve also felt a renewed appreciation of local small business and shared community spaces, and we hope this only strengthens no matter what the future holds.

What was the last interaction with a customer that made you laugh?
As a specialist bookstore for children and young adults, we enjoy an embarrassment of riches so this one’s a bit hard to narrow down. From wee ones to teens to grandparents, all the enthusiastic characters that make up our Squishy family are much-loved!

What is a recent Australian title you loved?
I’m very partial to excellent non-fiction and my delight in 100 Australian Birds, by Georgia Angus, shows no sign of fading. Her field guide style book deftly combines so much that I love: birds (of course) and learning as you go, but also place, language, fabulous drawing, and a gentle invitation to delve more deeply into the non-human world. In fiction, Gary Lonesborough’s debut novel, The Boy from the Mish, has just been devoured, loved, and will be much-recommended to anyone in store.