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CultureCorner: A Whale of a Tale


You may have asked yourself what happened to A Whale of a Tale Children’s Bookshoppe that, for many years, was located at the UCI Town Center, across from UCI. Did it swim away?  Was it captured by Moby Dick?  Or, was its new home Sea World in San Diego?

Rest assured, A Whale of a Tale can be found at Irvine Oak Plaza, right here in Irvine — at the corner of Alton and Laguna Canyon.

Yes, Alexandra Uhi is still the owner, and she is as excited as ever about children reading books.  I visited Alex at the bookstore, and I just didn’t want to leave — I wanted to read each and every book that was there.  I’m not alone.  Alex tells me that many adults also buy (for themselves) the books that are written for a range of readers — from preschoolers to teenagers and young adults.  Just looking at the art on the book jackets is enough to make you want to sit, open the books, and enjoy all the adventures that await you.

Alex continues to host a variety of children’s books authors.  In the past she has hosted former First Lady Laura Bush, J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame, Oscar-winning actresses Julie Andrews and Julie Ann Moore, as well as Jamie Lee Curtis.  Although Alex likes her location (she has been there since 2013), she told me that some of her most joyful years were when the store was at UCI Town Center.

When I asked how she chooses the books that fill the shelves, Alex said that she receives study lists from the publishers and pores through advanced copies of many books.  She even has a book, I Dissent — Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark,” by Debbie Levy.  Although the books she selects are for the younger set to read, I know that Irvine grownups are sure to find many of the books interesting, too.

When I asked Alex about the future for A Whale of a Tale at this the new Irvine Oak Plaza location, she responded, “I’m not ready to retire.  I love being here, and will be here as long as I’m standing.  I would like to continue to serve the community, providing our public schools, libraries and families with wonderful reading opportunities.”

Stop by A Whale of a Tale, located at 16277 Laguna Canyon, Suite G, in the Irvine Oak Plaza (Alton at Laguna Canyon).  Phone:  854-8288.  Bring your kids and grandkids.  Although there is nothing that matches the actual in-store browsing experience, you can also “visit” this wonderful, independent Irvine bookstore online at: www.awhaleofatale.com.

Marilyn Vassos



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