Storybook Village, Pentwater’s imagination store

May 28, 2014
Barbara Sims reads to a preschool group from Hart.

Barbara Sims reads to a preschool group from Hart.

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief. 

Barbara Sims engages the children in a puppet show.

Barbara Sims engages the children in a puppet show.

PENTWATER — Down at the end of Hancock Street there is a magical place. It’s a place where  children sail Oceans, explore islands and play with dragons. It’s a place of magic, mystery and adventure. It’s Storybook Village.

The store opened in July 2011, the creation of Barbara and Tom Sims. Barbara is a retired teacher and early childhood development administrator. She spent her career in the Naples and Ft. Meyers areas in southwest Florida. Tom’s career was spent as a developer in the Kalamazoo area. They were married five years ago and decided to make their retirement summer home Pentwater.

Storybook Village is more than a store. It’s also a theater.

“I wanted to create a store that engaged children in an imaginative way,” Barbara says. “This is a place where we make books come alive. We sell musical instruments and costumes that all help with building a child’s imagination. This is not a toy store but an imagination store.”

story_book_village_4In June 2013, the business, located at the corner of Hancock and Sixth Street, expanded to make way for the Starlight Theater. The theater is a place where children are read stories, particularly “Starlight Sailor” written by James Mayhew and illustrated by Jackie Morris. In fact, the theater is designed around the book, which features a boy who seeks out adventures on a far off island while he is dreaming.

The theater also features puppet stages.

The store is divided into different sections, each with a theme: Fun First Steps, the Natural Child, Tell Me a Story and Travel the World, Babara’s personal favorite. Items for sale include books and high quality toys with educational emphasis.

Barbara says she sees the store as more than just a retail outlet. It is a gathering place for children. Each week the store hosts a Great Start Collaborative playgroup. Several other educational groups visit the store. The space is also used for adults with activities such as yoga and Pilates.

story_book_village_5“Pentwater does not have an early childhood development center,” Barbara says. “I see this store as a place where we can help fill some of those needs. We provide a place for playgroups and children’s parties. In addition to offering the puppet theater, we also have creative writing and art classes for older children.

Storybook Village is located at 560 S. Hancock St. For more information, call 231-869-3120, email or go to



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