Words and photo by Tristan Ovington.
NEARLY three years ago, on February 19, 2020, Jo Boyles and Russell Mardell decided to set up Rocketship Bookshop on Bridge Street in Salisbury.
Jo had previously worked at Waterstones for 15 years, where she built a library of knowledge and passion for children’s literature.
She also wanted to support local Wiltshire writers and turn the premises into a bookshop again, as it had previously been run as a bar by different owners.
“There hasn’t been a local bookshop in Salisbury for a long time, and the building we are now in used to be a bookshop in the 80s and 90s. It was called The Everyman Bookshop,” says Jo. “So it is great to fill this space with books once more.
“My daughter came up with the name to show how we look to children’s futures and how we can enrich their lives with books.
“The biggest challenge was a month after we opened, as we went into the first lockdown. We did many risk assessments but couldn’t predict a global pandemic.
“We weren’t originally planning to sell online, so we had to create the online service within days. Despite the panic at the time, it was a positive experience, as it opened us to a new audience.
“We highlight books you can’t find via social media or supermarkets, as a wealth of children’s books by amazing illustrators deserve to be seen.
“This year we have made a list of our favourite picture books published in 2022. There are so many brilliant picture books that you won’t see anywhere else.
“We also have a local author section. Kristina Stephenson, who wrote the Sir Charlie Stinky Socks Series, has greatly supported our shop by making many appearances.
We had a few workshops with Jo Clarke, who has supported us with readings and signings of her book, Libby And The Parisian Puzzle. She did a creative workshop about how to write mystery stories.
“We also had Hannah Moffat, who wrote Small and did a workshop based on her book.
“We love hosting storytelling events, so throughout December, I am doing Christmas story readings from 10am onwards.
“We also have Christmas card decorating workshops. They are all free to attend and low-key, because we love to have people come in and enjoy activities. We like seeing returning and new faces, so we welcome anyone to come along.”