Walk through the front doors of Red Canoe in Lauraville and you’ll feel like you’re walking into your favorite neighbor’s house. Cozy and inviting, the smell of Zeke’s Coffee greets you — mingled with that of the soup-of-the-day. 

If you blink, you might miss this family-favorite while you’re driving down Harford Road. Don’t blink. And don’t miss the Phini Panini It’s definitely worth the stop!

Two years ago, Josie and her business partner Tina bought the children’s bookstore and cafe from Josie’s mother. Together, the two have run the business with gusto and grace. All of the families we met in the Greater Laurville area asked us if we had been to see Josie and Tina! (Although Josie’s husband jokes he owns 1% of it…)

While the food and coffee drinks are delicious, the collection of unique children’s picture books is downright stunning. It’s small and carefully curated by Josie who says selecting the books is by far her favorite part of the business. Here are her five must-haves for under the tree!

shop baltimore: gift ideas from red canoe

I Carry Your Heart with Me by E.E. Cummings, illustrated by Mati Rose McDonogh
“Perfect for a mama with kids of any age!” said Josie. The book is a children’s  adaptation of the beloved E. E. Cummings poem, beautifully illustrated by Mati Rose McDonough. Perfectly giftable! From the publisher: Showing the strong bond of love between mother and child, within nature and throughout life, Cummings’ heartfelt words expressed through McDonough’s lovely illustrations combine to create a fresh, yet classic, portrayal of love.

One Word from Sophia by Jim Averback
A fun story all about the nuances of negotiation. Josie mentioned that she wants all children who walk into Red Canoe to see themselves reflected in stories — and this story is about a biracial family and precocious kiddo. Sophia wants a giraffe for her birthday but there are four problems in the way: Mom, Dad, Uncle Conrad…and Grand-mama. Will her presentations, proposals, and pie charts convince them otherwise? 

The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman
“This is just plain fun… and a little terrifying!” said Josie. “Who doesn’t love Neil Gaiman? He’s amazing!” From School Library Journal: Lucy hears sounds in her house and is certain that the “sneaking, creeping, crumpling” noises coming from inside the walls are wolves. Her parents and her brother know “if the wolves come out-, it’s all over,” and no one believes that the creatures are there-until they come out. 

How to Be An Explorer of the World by Keri Smith
Simple and thought-provoking. Great for older kids and adults! From the publisher: Artists and scientists analyze the world around them in surprisingly similar ways, by observing, collecting, documenting, analyzing, and comparing. In this captivating guided journal, readers are encouraged to explore their world as both artists and scientists.

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell
It’s fitting that Josie included this book about a neighborhood transformation in her picks; she has a background in art and psychology. Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California, Maybe Something Beautiful reveals how art can inspire transformation—and how even the smallest artists can accomplish something big. 

red canoe

4337 Harford Rd
Baltimore, MD 21214
(410) 444-4440
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Photos by Laura Black