9 months ago


The Winnetka Current 012518

10 | January 25, 2018 |

10 | January 25, 2018 | The winnetka Current news Reading on a global scale Winnetka business sends literature to children worldwide Alan P. Henry Freelance Reporter To walk into the Stuart Brent Children’s Book Club offices in Winnetka is to be instantly enveloped in a cluttered, colorful swirl of organized literary chaos. The labyrinth of small rooms in the vintage second floor walkup at 1073 Gage St. are lined floor to ceiling, wall to wall with thousands of book titles. Stacks of books stand at sometimes rickety attention on floors, furniture and window sills throughout. And, all are serenaded by the clickety-clack of computer keyboards, phone calls and office chatter as owner Amy Brent and her staff of three send a book a month to close to 3,000 youngsters and teens in nearly every corner of the globe. “This is my home. All of these books are my friends, my partners. They are denizens of my environment, of my world,” said Brent, a veteran of more than 40 years in the book business who personally selects every book her club members receive, based on constantly updated profiles they provide and her own instincts about what they will enjoy. Today, the Glencoe resident is highly regarded not just as an expert on children’s books, but as a tireless promoter of the joys and value of reading. It is a standing a lifetime in the making. Brent, 59, began working in her father’s Chicago bookstore, Stuart Brent Books, while a freshman at Highland Park High School, sweeping floors and cleaning books. From the get-go, she was often surrounded by literary heavyweights. Author Tom Wolfe was one of her favorites. “He was so much fun,” she said. “He would come in wearing his white suit and he was so courtly and so smart.” Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize winner Saul Bellow was another matter. “He was the most unpleasant man I ever had the misfortune to meet,” she said. When Brent was a sophomore at Smith College, earning a degree in French and English, she called her father to ask if she should go to Paris for her junior year abroad. “He said, ‘Ask him,’ and handed the phone to Gore Vidal.” Then, there was the day George Will emerged from the bookstore stacks, “his face ashen,” having against all odds found a copy of a book written by his father “that had probably been there for 20 years.” “It was just always there,” she said of the literary buzz. She learned every aspect of the business and went on to run the bookstore until 1994, when it closed, and she and her husband, Ken, had their third child. That was also the moment she decided to focus exclusively on building a system and sales for Stuart Brent Children’s Book Club, which her father had started in 1968. Along the way, Brent has come to clearly understand the value and purpose of reading for a child, which she shares on the club’s website: “Probably the most difficult task of parenthood is helping a child to find JOIN NORTH SHORE AESTHETICS For A Night Of Glitter &Gifts! Celebrate • • • • • PLASTIC AND RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY ARTISTRY • SKILL • COMPASSION Years Thursday February 22 nd 5:00 - 9:00 PM Education By Dr. Benjamin Schlechter On Beauty Solutions & New Trends In Plastic Surgery • Giftbags For all Registrants • Live Demonstrations • Meet Beauty Industry Representatives • Special Coupon Savings For All Attendees • Enjoy Beverages & Refreshments OVER $5,000 In Door Prizes Spa Service Giveaways Fillers & Botox Laser Services Product Gift Baskets & So Much More!!! RSVP BY MONDAY FEBRUARY 17 TH 847.393.4770 Amy Brent, of Glencoe, stands in the office of her book club, Stuart Brent Children’s Book Club, in Winnetka. Brent’s business sends books to children in dozens of countries around the world. ALAN P. HENRY/22ND CENTURY MEDIA meaning in his or her life. A child begins to find meaning as he begins to understand himself. This can happen through reading. In reading, a child can live the experiences of others, people in far flung places and times. Those precious moments of living, feeling another person’s life is an important step in the development of self understanding, and self-understanding is the beginning of understanding others.” Every book club member has an alphabetized file, complete with solicited feedback, which helps Brent select future books that will continue to expand their interests and enthusiasm for reading. “I know them all,” said Brent, whose goal is to send “wonderful books that are a little less known than the obvious children’s best sellers.” One of her favorite feedback postcards came from a young girl reacting to having just read “A Christmas Carol.” “This guy Dickens really Please see brent, 14 Winnetka the winnetka current | January 25, 2018 | 11’s setting up to be a great year! 940 Seneca Road, Wilmette | 4 Bedrooms | 3.1 Baths |$1,115,000 | Indian Hill Beauty Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle 2015, 2016, 2017 38 Essex Road, Winnetka| 10 Rooms | 5 Bedrooms | 2.3 Baths | $1,195,000 | The Home You’ve Always Admired Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle 2015, 2016, 2017 WINNETKA OFFICE | 568 LINCOLN AVENUE | WINNETKA, IL 60093 | COLDWELLBANKERHOMES.COM Not intended as a solicitation if your property is already listed by another broker. 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