Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Field Trip: Books of Wonder in New York City

Summer is ending, and school will be starting soon, so I'm taking advantage of every moment I can to see more, more, MORE! of the world of children's books. 

My latest adventure took place in the wonderful land of New York City, where steamy weather and blistered sandal-donning feet call for frequent stops to Pinkberry, and the discovery of Japanese Okonomiyaki shops!

I had one request on our visit:

to stop at the Books of Wonder children's bookstore on West 18th Street.  

So we did, and so far it is my favorite children's bookstore. We were greeted by an AMAZING window display that featured the actual dioramas used to illustrate Cynthia von Buhler's latest creation, "But Who Will Bell the Cats?" I was so intrigued and fascinated by both the display and her book that I have vowed to feature her work on my blog in the future.

Inside the bookstore, characters from beloved classics danced along the top shelves and on the walls, and an adjoining cozy little Cupcake Cafe allowed little ones to sit at animal-shaped tables and read while enjoying a snack. 

It was the perfect place to browse and read to my heart's content, and hubby didn't mind so much because there was ample seating for him to enjoy the air conditioned climate and relax a bit. 

Towards the back of the store was my main reason for visiting: a small gallery that showed a mixture of original art, prints and framed posters. I was excited to see some of the original art from the Wizard of Oz by W.W. Denslow. I was also happily surprised to see a piece by Steven Kellogg, whose work I've enjoyed but thought was a touch too messy for my liking, and was quite more beautiful in person than in print. (I'm learning that the printed versions, such as in Lisbeth Zwerger's art, are much more muddled and less vibrant than the original illustrations. This was indeed mentioned in class, and in most of the books I've read, but didn't really sink in until I saw it with my own eyes.)

Rare original antique books for sale.

Also for sale, Harry Potter books signed by both author and artist!
Anyone with $1500 to spare???
Although I could have spent my life's savings in that store, I carefully selected only two items, both of which were on sale. I've been wanting to read Brian Jaques' "Redwall" series, so his first book for $5 was a no-brainer. And the second book I picked up, called "Whiff," had a silly story line (which I found entertaining because the main character smelled bad), but the art mimicked that of Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things are," line, color palette and all! I don't know if blatantly mimicking another's style is something that is looked down upon or not, but I liked it just the same. In fact, it is quickly becoming one of my favorites. 

All in all, a nice little visit to a nice little store. I wish it didn't have to be a few hours away from home, otherwise I'd visit so often I would become a regular piece of their wall decor!

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