Monday, December 6, 2010

Every Picture Tells A Story

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!


The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

Dear Megan,
I'm trying to imagine Frank Frazetta illustrating a picture book.
Blogger The Depressed

Megan Frances Abrahams said...

Dear BTD

I learn so much from your comments.

I understand Frazetta illustrated book covers and comic books. Don't be too sad about it!

Laurie L Young said...

It was an enlightening evening, to be sure. Thanks for sharing Lois's insight and wisdom.

Megan Frances Abrahams said...

Thanks for commenting, Laurie. There was much more I would have liked to write about. I was so impressed with the charitable events Lois organizes, like Milk & Bookies, and the educational events like, Teaching Tolerance through Children's Books. It was fun hearing about her involvement in mounting the Eloise mural at the Plaza.

I loved her remark, "I think it's a field where people go heart first."

Lee Rae Lynne said...

I agree with Lois Sarkisian, that picture books do teach children to read novels. Shame on the NY Times for saying picture books are no longer a staple for children. If children have fun reading when they are very young, this will continue into their adult lives. How wonderful it would be to see kids put down their video games and pick up a book instead.

Megan, I am an avid reader of your brother's novels, even his young adult and children’s books. I heard that he will have a children’s picture book coming out next year. His publisher must not agree with the NY Times either. Thank goodness!!!

Megan Frances Abrahams said...

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, Lee Rae. I agree with Lois Sarkisian too. Unfortunately, picture books are expensive to publish and it's clear books - and the publishing industry as a whole - are going through a metamorphosis. Even so, I believe picture books are important and will endure, in some format.

That's so great to know you read my brother Peter's books! Yes, his first picture book, Quacky Baseball, (written by Peter Abrahams, illustrated by Frank Morrison) is being released January 3. The publisher is Harper Collins.

Lee Rae said...

January 3rd!! Wow, I didn't think it was coming out until April, around opening day of baseball. This is good news. Thanks!

Sokat Rachman said...

Hi... nice to meet u. I'm also interested to write children's stories. I'v written stories and published.