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

    candyicet said,

    I also love to share children’s literature with kids–my own and any other kid that will listen! 🙂 I often read aloud softly to my kids in the public library. Pretty soon and to my delight, there is a small huddle of children intently listening and commenting on the story. Sometimes, stranger’s kids will climb up in my lap and demand that I read more. It gives me great joy to help introduce them to the wonderful world of reading. I used to be the librarian at a school for kids with behavior problems. So, I have seen first-hand what a difference it can make when kids understand the value and pleasure of reading.

  2. 2

    lilybee301 said,

    Thank you.I’m going to tell my niece about your books, she’s seven and loves to read.

  3. 3

    Anne said,

    We are a household full of readers! Thanks for coming over to my Feed Yard Foodie site—a great way for me to find your site. I am always looking for good reads for myself and my three girls (13, 10 and 8). Any suggestions for a 13 year old girl that reads all of the time?

    Anne

    • 4

      I’d love to recommend some books! What does your 13 year old enjoy reading?

    • 5

      Anne said,

      Her favorite book of all time is Gone With The Wind (she’s read it several times…) but she reads an eclectic variety of things. She loves anything historical and is fascinated with England. Her Grandpa just gave her Lady of the Roses (Sandra Worth) and she loved it. She also reads more contemporary books such as the Twilight Saga books. We got her a kindle a couple of years ago for Christmas because we were running out of book shelf space I the house!

      Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. She reads so many books that it is becoming hard to find “age appropriate” ones that she has not yet read.

      Anne

    • 6

      I would recommend anything by Nancy Farmer. She’s a fantastic writer with an authentic voice and rich stories. The Ear, the Eye and the Arm is about a detective agency in Zimbabwe in the year 2194. The House of the Scorpian is a story about a boy who is a clone of a dictator and lives in a country that’s been created between Mexico and America. A Girl Named Disaster is about a young girl who is cast out of her village in Mozambique and spends a year alone on a river traveling to her father’s village.

      If these are a miss, I can try again 🙂

  4. 7

    Ankur Mithal said,

    Great collection and suggestions. Forwarding this to my wife who is an avid reader and works with a school library. Am sure she will get some ideas from your blog.

  5. 8

    Thank you for liking one of my posts. Your blog is amazing – I love literature, children’s and adults. My SC is 5 and has a reading age of 9 – desperately trying to find some good books that are challenging for him to read, but also emotionally appropriate given his age – it’s proving difficult. Any suggestions would be gratefully received. x

  6. 10

    Great Post! I love Children’s Literature

  7. 11

    I look forward to reading your well-written blogs regarding children’s books! I have three grown children who caused me to visit the poor house, because of their appetite for good books! And there is a two year old grandson now, who has inherited the boxes of books we bought and saved for him!

  8. 12

    I love the little old lady who was not afraid of anything 😊I bought it for my son last year and during halloween and I read it to him while he is in the bathtub! (He is autistic, its the only way he listens to me read a full book!) Thanks for the passion in writing childrens books keep them coming and I will keep on buying! Have a great Christmas!

  9. 13

    poliwogg said,

    Great site! When my three children were little, we would recite Sendak’s Pierre together. One would read the preface; one would take the chapter titles; I would read the story; and one would yell out “I don’t care!” (They would switch parts the next time.) The line that would crack us up every time: “Pierre’s in there!” Children’s books aren’t just for the children!

  10. 15

    miles4moms said,

    If I haven’t said it before, I love your blog! 🙂


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