Ann LaPietra was the owner and operator of the kids' place book store in Marshall, Michigan, and the creator of the John Bellairs Walk.


LaPietra was born in Illinois and graduated from Northwestern University’s Theater School in 1955 with a Bachelor of Science in Speech.

In 1986 LaPietra opened the kids’ place bookstore at 106 North Jefferson Street, hosting special events each year.  With the John Bellairs Walk, LaPietra and friends escorted children and adults to the places in Marshall that inspired John Bellairs's children books and introduced some to the key characters in those books. Her "Let in the Light" event for "Banned Books Week” event was recognized by the American Booksellers Association and the Great Lakes Booksellers Association, in which she held membership.  She was active on the Literacy Council and was always very supportive of aspiring authors from Marshall and the surrounding area[1].

Kids' place

The kids' place bookstore in downtown Marshall, Michigan.

In 1990, the Women’s National Book Association named LaPietra the winner of the Lucille Micheels Pannell Award for "bringing children and books together" with the John Bellairs Walk. The Walk led to the placement of a historical marker at the Cronin House. The marker honors The House with a Clock in its Walls, the first Bellairs book set in New Zebedee.

In 1995, author Brad Strickland dedicated The Doom of the Haunted Opera to Ann and husband, Anthony, "who helped me explore the haunted opera!"

As the founder of Little Red Hen Productions, LaPietra created Marshall-Color Me Historical, a coloring book to help teach local history to children that was also translated into Japanese for distribution to Marshall's sister city of Koka-cho, Japan[1].

LaPietra - known by nicknames such as "the book lady", "the story lady", and "Crazy Annie" from fans and customers - was forced to close the bookstore in 2006 due to poor health.

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Obituary.  Kempf Funeral Home,