While many booksellers made their way to the Javits Center on Wednesday, May 28, to hear the early-afternoon keynote speeches by ABA head Oren Teicher and other industry leaders, 60 booksellers instead toured various children’s book illustrators’ studios in Manhattan and Brooklyn, in the second annual such crawl. This year, 21 children’s book illustrators participated in the program, which was co-sponsored by the ABA’s ABC Group and the Children’s Book Council.
The crawl began with an event at the Czech Center on the Upper East Side, where the Bohemian Benevolent & Literary Society and FSG hosted a reception amid an exhibit of works by Peter Sís. “Cartography of the Mind,” which displays the artist’s drawings, watercolors, and quashes, is on view until Sept. 1and includes original artwork from his newest book, The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
“This is fabulous – I’ve always been a fan of his,” said Judith LaFitte of Octavia Books in New Orleans as Sís circulated, welcoming booksellers to the venue and engaging them in conversation. “Being in a room with all his original art is very impressive and inspiring.”
After a catered lunch, the booksellers split up into small groups. Those who stayed in Manhattan used taxis, public transportation, and their own two feet to visit studios across town from the Czech Center. The ABA provided bus transportation to Brooklyn, where most of the participating artists work. Each bookseller had the opportunity to visit up to three studios; some chose to visit two before returning to Javits in time for James Patterson’s announcement concerning the second round of his bookseller grants.
Joy Dallanegra-Sanger, ABA’s senior program officer, told PW that the day had gone even better than last year, counting the bus transportation to Brooklyn and the group lunch/exhibit visit among the improvements. More to the point, Dallanegra-Sanger said, “It’s the most intimate way for booksellers and illustrators to connect – in their homes and studios.”
Illustrator Carin Berger, who works out of the dining room of her apartment near Columbia University, told PW that she decided to participate in the tour this year because she was eager to meet booksellers, “who are on the front lines interfacing with readers and making our books available to the world.”
“It means a lot to me that each of them has somehow found a place for my books within their own very individual, curated bookshops,” she said. “I loved hearing about each shop and meeting all the hardworking booksellers.”