Please see my guest blog at SCBWI WI for more information.
Wisconsin winter weather closes 133 schools. Malls, restaurants and other venues are closed. The airport runway closes multiple times . . .thankfully once we take off, the flight is relatively uneventful. New Jersey welcomes us with warmer temperatures and no precipitation.
Navigating the trains and subway with our luggage goes well thanks to my husband Aaron’s planning, and we arrive at our hotel in New York City before rush hour. Looking out our 36th floor window we see water towers atop buildings, and a foggy Central Park a few blocks away. We brave the good weather to go out for New York-style wood-fired pizza, yuuuumm! We discuss what do we want to do tomorrow. Bookstores and explore win unanimously!
The astonishing Books of Wonder on 84th street is our first endeavor. Their entire stock is Children’s Literature related. Artfully displayed, thousands of books clamor for your attention. As you enter the store Nonfiction picture books line the right wall, early readers are along the entry wall. New releases and discounted books occupy the short shelves ahead of us. As we make our way through the rest of the store, we discover chapter books, middle grade novels and young adult novels on shelves soaring up toward the ceiling. These books are fairly easy to see and distinguish. We spot Meena Meets Her Match by Wisconsin author Karla Manternach and snap a picture. Meena is easy to spot and nicely displayed facing outward. Then picture book land opens up to us. The picture books are mostly arranged alphabetically by illustrator, others by categories.
We spend a few hours here getting a tour and exploring this new realm. We hunt for friend’s books & share their photos on Facebook. It feels bigger than any library of children’s books. When we search further we find rare and antique books kept behind glass. We ask for other books we can’t find but they don’t have every book. Thank goodness, we’re seeing and gaining understanding enough as it is.
I see a few books on one topic but their approaches are different. The variety of art and fonts, the approach and style of writing, the point of view. . . zoinks! I feel like I’m visiting the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) on steroids. Are there really that many chapter books and graphic novels? I see many biography picture books, and there need to be more! They have shelves for 10+ year olds to delineate heavier subjects that are handled more directly. Seeing covers and descriptions for hundreds of middle grade and chapter books side by side allows me to see differences in approach, target audience, skills, and topics, as well as point of view.
Onward with our journey. Lunch at a fanciful French Mediterranean restaurant. We’re kept company by sunflowers and umbrellas of lights around support beams. We enjoy a tiny table between booths and other tables. No reservations in NYC? That’s what we get. Cool!
We make brief stops at The Children’s Museum of Manhattan. The paper tiger in the lobby is an incredible feat! Spy Scape is New York’s Spy Center with interactive exhibits to help you determine which role in the spy world you are best suited to. What has ladders and reaches floor to ceiling in truly narrow aisles? New York Grocery stores.
Gosh, out of blog! More on the conference next time!