About Me

The moment I began selling children’s books, my entire life changed. I had been collecting children’s books since I was about 16, but I had no idea about the vastness of the world I was entering. At the time, my “collection” consisted of Shel Silverstein, a few Dr. Seuss titles, Old Turtle and a battered copy of Thumbelina that actually belonged to my older sister.

As a child, a few of my favorite books were Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig, The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton, and The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss, which I vowed to continue renewing at the library until I could say Bartholomew. I also loved the My Book House series. The twelve book set in our house was well loved and continuously being read.

When I first walked into Books of Wonder, which is an amazing independent children’s bookstore in New York City, I’d been living in Manhattan for two weeks and had gotten lost looking for a bank. I remember thinking when I first spotted the store, “no way! A store just for children’s books!” As I entered the store and perused the shelves, I was overwhelmed by the abundance of beautiful books. I was hooked and I immersed myself in children’s books.

I worked at Books Of Wonder for eight years, five of those years as the manager and buyer. In addition to selling new books, the store also specializes in old and rare books. During my time there, I was able to learn the history of children’s literature. I was also gaining knowledge on what was currently in print and being published, as well as multiple aspects of the industry.

I left Books of Wonder to become the assistant to Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator of Where the Wild Things Are, whom I worked with for seven years. I was his assistant through the publication of four books, two opera productions, a documentary and the making of the film, Where the Wild Things Are.

Maurice Sendak is a giant, even among the giants in children’s books. There could have been no better way to continue my education than to work directly with him. I learned about the vast canon of artists he used for inspiration, as well as those he admired, worked with, and collected. I was also afforded the unique opportunity of hearing an idea be turned into a story, witnessing the creation of the art, and observing the myriad steps involved in bringing a book into publication.

I’m passionate about children’s books and I’ve been working in the industry for nearly twenty years. I treasure the opportunity to share my knowledge and that love with my readers.

 

-Jennifer Lavonier

76 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    nobsj said,

    Thought I’d check out your blog after you so kindly liked one of my posts, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s about possibly my favorite topic ever. (I may have squealed internally while reading your job history…ok there was maybe some sound involved, whatever.)

  2. 2

    Please share with me if you would, how to get started being published. I don’t write children’s books, but I like to write non-fiction, instructional types of books. I have a couple of manuscripts on my computer, just don’t know where to begin.

  3. 4

    twinsome said,

    Within moments of browsing around here I was insatiably giddy, chirping away that I had finally found an enchanting place that cares about children’s literature. Our twins’ library is already well stocked, and your recommendations are sure to be dangerous to our budget. Thank you so much for this resource and your insight, it is truly delightful.

  4. 5

    Many years ago I noticed that some of the best artwork I saw was in children’s books. Maybe its because people don’t take children’s books as seriously as art, but the creators seem less inhibited, more open to taken chances than mainstream writers and artists.

  5. 6

    gabbie glick said,

    My husband and I love books and bookstores of all types. So we are delighted to see you highlight the wonderful offerings that will build a lifetime of reading interest.

  6. 7

    I am already in love with your blog and I am two pages in. It is a dream of mine to own a children’s bookstore. As in the one you worked at, solely devoted to the wonderful world that children’s books create. I am about to embark on my first year of teaching in an early childhood classroom and among my many talents, one includes storytelling (not reading a book, this is different and way better). I cannot wait to ‘tell’ a story (be it from a book or our imagination) to my class!

  7. 8

    The books you mention bring back wonderful memories for me. Thank you!

  8. 9

    Hi Jennifer, I love your blog! What a fantastic career you have had – working with children’s books, and then for Maurice Sendak! It’s like a dream come true! I also LOVE children’s books, but to list all my childhood favourites would take too long. Have you ever read any Joan Aiken? She’s a great British children’s author – thought I’d mention her as she may not be well known in the States. If you get the chance, definitely try her, I think you’d love her. Oh, and Leon Garfield, too! Thanks for stopping by my blog, it’s been lovely to get to know you. Best wishes.


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