An aphorism - and an independent bookstore/gallery of original art from children's books
The SCBWI-LA Westside Illustrators recently visited the children's book store and illustration gallery, Every Picture Tells A Story. We had an informative and fun private session with owner and founder Lois Sarkisian, who discussed trends in children's books illustration and the children's book market in general.
For 30 years, the Santa Monica gallery has featured a collection of original paintings, drawings and lithographs by more than 100 classic and contemporary children's illustrators, including: Garth Williams, Dr. Seuss, Charles Schulz, David Shannon, Mark Teague, Mo Willems, the Brothers Hildebrandt, Hilary Knight and Maurice Sendak.
Given her unique insight on picture books - as a collector of original children's illustrations and an independent bookseller with her own small imprint - it was interesting to hear Lois's POV on the recent controversy about the value of picture books. Disagreeing with the October 7 New York Times article, Picture Books No Longer A Staple for Children, Lois said, "Picture books teach you to read novels."
On the other hand, she pointed out that publishers have an understandable motive for taking this tack. "It's a great excuse for them not to publish children's books - they are expensive to publish and they don't sell as much."
Regardless of how children's books evolve in the future, Lois emphasized their important role in our culture.
"It's a great field. It's so significant in our society," Sarkisian said. "It speaks to our children, it speaks to our country, it speaks to what we want to impart to our children - it's all reflected there - in our children's books."
If you haven't been to Every Picture Tells A Story, check out the new location on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. See the calendar for book signings and special events - and enjoy a thoughtfully curated collection of children's illustrations and artfully beautiful books. Thanks so much to Lois for hosting this event, and to Suzy Engelman Block for arranging it!