Wild Rumpus Books, where stories about dragons and superheroes reside with a menagerie of live animals, has been a favorite in south Minneapolis for the past 25 years.
Now it's a favorite of Publishers Weekly, too. The trade publication on Monday named the Linden Hills shop its 2017 Bookstore of the Year.
It's the first time the award has gone to a children's bookstore.
"We're shocked," co-owner Collette Morgan said. "It's just outstanding, way beyond our wildest dreams."
The shop at 2720 W. 43rd St., is, of course, named for Maurice Sendak's classic "Where the Wild Things Are." (Taken from when young Max cries out: "Let the wild rumpus start!")
Morgan and her then-husband Tom Braun (now ex-husband) started it in 1992. Morgan had worked for Odegard Books at a time when corporative bookstores were flourishing and moving into the Twin Cities market. Even Best Buy sold books at the time.
When Odegard closed, it was either work for another bookseller or start an independent shop.
"I took the leap," Morgan said.
She and her husband had researched children's bookstores in the United States and in England. Most, she said, were decorated in primary colors and had, perhaps, a train set running through the store.
That's not what they wanted. Those were "really nothing that any sophisticated teen would want to walk through," Morgan said.
It needed to be special, she said. "We didn't want to condescend to kids. We wanted to make it comfortable for the littlest through the biggest" and to have events for all ages.
She heard all the horror stories about starting a small business: You'll work 80-hour weeks, you'll never get rich, the location is terrible.
Morgan figured that if she was going to work 80-hour weeks, she wanted animals with her.
Today, the store has cats, a chicken, birds, rats, ferrets, chinchillas and lots of fish (in the bathroom). At one time, Norman, the potbelly pig lived at the store, too. But Norman and the cats had words about the litter box and Norman went to live out his life at the home of a woman who owned a quilt shop.
"A pig in a blanket," Morgan said with a chuckle.
Although the menagerie isn't for sale, Wild Rumpus has a pet-store license so Minneapolis officials can inspect and ensure the safety and well-being of the animals.
The shop employs 18 people and is open seven days a week.
What does the future hold? More books, Morgan said.
"The death of the books is greatly exaggerated," she said, loosely quoting Mark Twain. "The more we see kids engaging with electronics, the more we see them falling in love with books, the real thing."