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Fundraiser set for Ellen Mager, beloved Doylestown bookseller


Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect that the sale will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday. 

For nearly 40 years, families scoured the packed shelves of Booktenders’ Secret Garden, Doylestown’s revered children’s bookstore, where owner Ellen Mager could always be found at her post, guiding, suggesting, finding, the perfect book.

The beloved borough store closed in 2019 and, in the intervening years, the diminutive Mager, now 71, has been in declining health.

Friends and longtime customers Cheryl and Aaron Castro have organized a unique fundraising event to help Mager with her growing health care expenses.

On Friday and Saturday at Central Bucks Senior Center, supporters will find for sale a wealth of signed illustrations and other works of art given to the iconic proprietor, who hosted countless authors and artists in her 900-square-foot store during her decades in the business.

For many years, Booktenders’ featured a “Wall of Fame,” with autographs, drawings and personal notes from some 200 internationally known authors and illustrators, including J.K. Rowling, Eric Carle, Lloyd Alexander, Marc Brown and many more.

Mager is expected to be on hand at the senior center at 700 North Shady Retreat Road in Doylestown from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday.

“Our kids grew up with Ellen and, because of her, my whole family had the opportunity to meet dozens of authors and illustrators in person, and even draw with them,” said Cheryl Castro. “You could literally go into her shop and say I need a book for Aidan or Aleia Castro’s birthday and she’d know what to tell them.”

Easily one of the town’s most recognizable personalities, Mager said she still delights in the warm hellos from so many.

“I love when past customers of all ages come up and talk to me and are happy to see me. It means so much that people remember me after all this time — four years after the store closed,” she said.

Mager was active in the community, serving on many committees and volunteering with nonprofits. She was a regular guest lecturer at children’s literature conferences and received many awards for her contributions to children’s literary growth. In 2013, she received the Betty Roemmelmeyer Advocate Award from Frostburg University, which “recognizes a teacher, librarian or other advocate who exhibits a love of children’s literature and strives to share it with others,” Mager’s biography noted.

“It was an amazing experience that we were so fortunate to have for our children and that’s why we wanted to do what we could to help her get back on her feet now,” said Cheryl Castro.

For more information, call 215-850-8139. The gallery of art work will be online soon. Contact:

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