I had the pleasure of being at Books of Wonder yesterday for my brother Troy Howell. He was there to sign his new novel The Dragon of Cripple Creek.
Books of Wonder is located in Manhattan, in the Flatiron district, at 18 West 18th Street (between 5th Avenue and Avenue of the Americas). It is the oldest and largest and only independent children's bookstore in NYC . It was founded in 1980 by Peter Glassman and he is still actively involved with his charming bookstore.
I visited Books of Wonder in 1984 when it was located on 7th Avenue and had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Glassman then. Peter is an interesting, talkative, and personable man. He is full of energy and stories of his experiences with authors and illustrators and he loves books.
Peter was 20 years old when he opened Books of Wonder in 1980. It has grown from a cozy little bookshop into a charming, open, and perfect children's bookstore.
It is reminiscent of the bookstores in "The Shop Around the Corner" or "You've Got Mail", only larger.
Books of Wonder has about 20 to 30 thousand books. If you are searching for old, new, classics, rare, out-of-print or signed children's books this is the place to go (or shop online).
The back of the shop feels like an art gallery. Hanging on the walls are numbered, limited edition, and original art for sale. I was impressed with the diversity of art available to purchase and if I had some extra spending money, I'd be going home with a few.
Yesterday, there were five authors (Troy Howell, Laurie Calkhoven, Jenny Han, C. Alexander London, and Rachel Wildavsky) at the bookstore. They came to read passages from their new books. My brother, Troy Howell was one. He and Peter have known each other for years and Peter loves Troy's new novel. In fact, he stayed up late reading The Dragon of Cripple Creek because as he says, "I just couldn't put it down".
Troy read from Chapter One where Katlin Graham is "crouched behind a couch in the lounge (of a hotel), shaking a pair of dice". She is in a game of chance and deception with an unsuspecting kid named Lucas. Of course, one of the die's is altered to land on six and Kat wins coins with most every roll. The story grows from there and events spark a modern day gold rush.
I wanted to be at this book signing so, I loaded our four kids into the family van very early Saturday morning and drove the four and a half hours into the City to be there. Our children were excited to see their Uncle Troy and came with their dragons ready to promote his wonderful book. You can read more about my road trip with our four young children at my other blog.
The crowd was small but, engaged in listening to these talented writers talk about their books. One former staff member of Books of Wonder is now a published author (Jenny Han - Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream).
Troy signed about 100 books and talked with those interested in him and his work.
I wandered the spacious aisles with our children and we found books we can't live without. You who know me, know that books are truly my best friends. I bought East of The Sun and West of The Moon (Old Tales From The North) because it is illustrated by Kay Nielsen. I also found The Annotated Wizard of Oz! Happy, Happy Me!
I was tempted to purchase a cupcake from the Cupcake Cafe which is connected to the store. The life-sized dancing cupcakes, the beautifully decorated cakes, the ladybug fabric covered chairs all drew me in. I also had four hungry children tugging at my sleeves asking me for cakes but, we had planned on eating a late lunch after the book signing and I didn't want to spoil my appetite or theirs so, I didn't indulge. I've since read reviews about Cupcake Cafe and although the cupcakes are works of art, they don't taste anywhere as good as they look.
We exited through the wonderful revolving door (a number of times) and headed off to a wonderful Thai restaurant a few street away (you can read about this adventure here)
Please get your own copy of The Dragon of Cripple Creek. I know you will enjoy reading my brother's book. Here's what Jane Yolen says about it, "I hate it when really wonderful illustrators turn out to be even more wonderful at writing novels. Somehow it's not fair. Yet how could I hate Troy Howell whose sassy, self-aware (and hurting) heroine Kat has one of the freshest voices in children's novels today. Whose dragon Ye has a marvelous world-weary insouciance. Whose landscapes and cave-scapes are as visualized in words as in his paintings. You guessed it. I love this book."
Dear Readers, you would think with all the reading I do, I'd know the definition of this word. I had to look it up.
Well, one of my goals is to learn something new each day. Check!