I wanted to share this review of the BOOKS OF WONDER presentation/panel that our Melissa Iwai participated in last weekend…big names and such a cool place. When you get to NYC DO go and visit. They have original copies of Oz and other wonderful old books. (so do I actually which I cherish!) anyway….enjoy Melissa’s tale of Wonder….
Sunday was an amazing event at Books of Wonder on 18th Street in Manhattan. If you have never been there before, it is a fantastic independent bookstore devoted solely to children’s books. They do not carry any licensing products — you will not find any Disney or Nickeloden books here! All the picture books are arranged alphabetically by illustrator, rather than author. It’s the only bookstore I know of that does this!
>We love it there and go often for events of which there are many. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to meet legendary book people, like the late Tomi Ungerer or Chris Van Allsberg as well as newer, well-known authors and illustrators. One of our favorite events was listening to Nortan Juster and Jules Feiffer talk about creating The Phantom Tollbooth last year in celebration of its 50th anniversary.
This Sunday, though, I was on a panel there! My panel mates are all exceptional picture book creators. I was honored to be included in the group.
With Brian Floca, Anne Rockwell, Robie Harris, Chris Raschka, Deborah Heiligman. Not pictured are Leyuen Pham, Doreen Cronin, and Betsy Lewin.
I was totally nervous before the event – I am not so comfortable speaking in public anyway, but my anxiety was heightened by the stellar company I was keeping. Anne Rockwell, who is the most sweetest, generous, warmest person ever, put me at ease. I was so thankful she was able to make it. She is a “living legend” as Peter Glassman, owner of Books of Wonder, said in his introduction of her. She has written over 100 books, many of which she herself illustrated. You can imagine my immense relief when she told me she love the illustrations for her warm story, Truck Stop!
Anne and I both spoke a bit about how the book came to be and our process of creating it. Brian Floca spoke about his amazing book, Locamotive. He actually got to drive an old fashioned locamotive for an afternoon as part of his research. Robie Harris and Chris Racshka discussed writing and illustrating a book about child fears, When Lions Roar. The challenge was creating something that wasn’t too scary, but scary enough, and what a delicate line that is. Deborah Heiligman and Leuyen Pham talked about their book on the life and work of Paul Erdos (The Boy Who Loved Math) as well as the esoteric system of Erdos numbers. The wonderful Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin of Click, Clack, Moo! fame have been collaborating for 18 years. Their newest is Click, Clack, Boo! They spoke about their collaboration and how much trust and respect they have for each other — also how they both share the same sense of humor (obvious if you’ve ever read their hilarious books about duck and Farmer Brown).
Everyone had such an interesting perspective on the work of picture book creating. It was really fascinating and inspirational. I was so happy to meet finally Chris Raschka and Betsy Lewin whose illustrations I adore and whose books Jamie grew up with (along with many of Anne’s).
Anne Rockwell and me outside of Books of Wonder after the event. Do I look relieved?
It really is such a gift for kids to be able to meet authors and illustrators of the books they love. If you ever have the opportunity, please do so! Not every place is like NYC where there are book events all the time, but in cities across the country, especially at independent book stores, there are events taking place often — and they are free!