By: April Stettner, Guest Writer (instagram.com/brigittebardotbunny)
Nostalgia has a universal and powerful pull on virtually everyone. There are some memories from childhood in particular that illicit that kind of butterfly-inducing excitement. If you have an affinity for books and reading in general, you may remember a magical time of year known as the “Scholastic Book Fair.” When I first stepped into Kate Keeper’s wonderland on wheels, appropriately named the GoGo Book Truck, I felt the same rush as I did in elementary school when I saw those glossy new books on display.
For this very reason, I would liken Kate to a curator of nostalgia. The GoGo Book Truck is like Mrs. Frizzle’s bus and Mary Poppins’ bag of wonders in one. Upon entering, you would have no idea you were once in a former Frito Lay Truck. The gorgeous color-coded space is filled to the brim with goodies in a beautifully structured way. You can pick up a copy of Moondust Press’s latest release, a seahorse finger puppet, and a dainty wand (for good measure).
When I first met Kate, I felt an instant familiarity and warmth. She has created a space that is inviting to children and big kids like me. Her ability to connect with individuals, particularly children who enter the GoGo Book truck, is something to behold. This may be in part to Kate’s background as a labor and delivery nurse. She also has the uncanny ability to sense what a patron might be looking for, even if they aren’t sure themselves. The beauty of Kate’s vast knowledge of the children’s publishing world is that she can suggest authors and books that a new reader may not have heard of yet. Like the beautiful and mysterious bookshop owner in the cult classic 90s film The Craft who knew just what you were looking for, Kate can pluck the exact book you need out of hundreds. She’s done this very thing for me each time I visit her.
Kate’s concept for the mobile book truck was born partly by a visit to the now-late but famous bookstore Stories in New York. When I got to ask her how the concept for the GoGo BookTruck was born, she shared with me: “Anyone who loves books has probably thought of this idea at some point, right?”.
And she’s right. What avid book lover hasn’t fantasized about having their own shop with the freedom to procure their collection? I wanted to know what reading meant to Kate and if she had a particular book or memory that stood out.
“I have a lot of memories of sitting with my dad and us reading together. I loved The Jolly Postman series in particular because they were beautiful books, and it was interactive; you could open the letters.”
This is what’s great about the book collection Kate has created. It is as expansive and as diverse as the authors. Sure, there are some of my 90’s kid favorites like The Babysitters Club (now with their graphic novels) and R.L. Stine’s classic Goosebumps series, but you can also find books that explore topics such as activism, different abilities (including neurodiversity), families, and European history – just to name a few.
Kate is often commissioned to design bookshelves and nooks in infant and children’s bedrooms across the country. Parents will send her a mood board, sometimes a few of their child’s interests, and Kate takes it from there. She creates an individual and unique design and book collection that is specifically designed for that child. Kate has a keen eye for color, design, and book placement. Just look at her Instagram feed: @gogobooktruck. It’s a gorgeous candy-colored dreamland.
I asked Kate if she has ever thought of penning her own children’s book (since she also has an English degree). She notes she’s had several ideas over the years (pretty great ones if you ask me), but her focus has been on the GoGo Book Truck. I point out that some pretty impressive publishing houses follow her on Instagram, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she adds author to her resume in a few years. I can see her publishing a magical series that will bring future generations the same excitement that we hold for our favorites.
That’s the thing about nostalgia; everything is shiny and new initially, but as time passes, only certain things possess that kind of magic that stands the test of time. Kate Keeper and The GoGo Book Truck is guaranteed to do just that.
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