After a much buzzed-about soft launch two weeks ago, the new shop at 249 Warren Street between Court and Smith Streets officially opened its doors for business yesterday, February 1.
This most recent expansion of Manhattan's beloved international-travel bookstore focuses exclusively on France, Spain and Italy, offering more than 5,000 foreign-language novels, children's books, greeting cards, travel guides and other periodicals for those looking to expand their skills.
"Since 2008 we've had a location in Manhattan [on 19th st between 5th and 6th Avenues] that offers a wide selection of travel books, world literature and more recently foreign-language books," said store manager Laetitia Donnet. "As a lot of demand for the foreign-language books was coming from customers residing in Brooklyn, the owner David del Vecchio thought it would be a great idea to open a location here in Cobble Hill that would focus primarily on those."
The book shop couldn't come at a more opportune time, as . In the past 10 years, approximately 3,000 French families have moved to the Carroll Gardens, Gowanus and Park Slope neighborhoods, according to Fabrice Jaumont, education attaché for the French Embassy. And since 2007, has operated as a dual-language school offering classes in French and English from kindergarten through the 4th grade.
Local parents looking to keep up with their kids' studies will be happy learn, then, that Idlewild Books is also offering language classes in an adjoining space.
"So far we have had a very positive and enthusiastic response from the neighborhood," said Donnet.
Classes include 10 sessions over 10 weeks and are available at varying skill levels. "Native-speaking teachers get students talking as soon as possible by giving them basic grammar and vocabulary, incorporating in-class speaking practice and real-life situations," explained Donnet. "It is a method that promotes oral communication and comprehension. And it's fun! By the time they get to the intermediate levels, students of French, learn with the use of comic books like Tintin and the classic The Little Prince. Advanced students read crime novels and discuss them in class."
If your language skills are already exemplary, then you can skip the classes and head straight to the shelves containing translations of classics by authors like Ernest Hemingway, Gabriel Garcia Marquez or even modern fare such as Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series.
"Believe it or not the Harry Potter, Stieg Larsson books and the Twilight series are quite popular in foreign languages!" claimed Donnet. "People like to read them in another language because they already know the story."
And if you have no ear for languages whatsoever? "Additionally, we have a few books solely in English about France or Italian cooking," Donnet said. Très bien.