Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It All Begins With "Once Upon a Time"
Christina Hamlett writing in American Chronicle
November 17, 2008

"The world is a book," wrote Saint Augustine, "and those who do not travel read only one page."

If frequent flyer miles were awarded for every book she has read since childhood, Maureen Palacios would have enough to have circled the globe more times than she can count.

The owner of Once Upon a Time Book Store – the oldest children´s bookstore in the nation – is happily surrounded by what she loves best: books, books and more books.

With a laugh she divulges that the only thing she needs more of is the time to actually read all of them.Her purchase of this delightful establishment several years ago is almost a story in itself. "The former owner, Jane Humphrey, was trying to find a buyer in 2003.
My daughters, meanwhile, were noticing their favorite bookstore no longer had much inventory. Unbeknownst to me, my daughter Jessica – then nine – decided to take matters into her own hands." Palacios, who was working at home as a human resources consultant, had frequent occasion to send faxes, an activity that didn´t go unnoticed by her resourceful young offspring. "Jessica wrote a letter to the editor of the Glendale News Press urging the readership to help ´the nice lady find a buyer for her shop´. She also added, ´Where am I going to find the next Harry Potter book if Once Upon a Time is closed?´

She then looked up the number and faxed it to the newspaper."What followed, Palacios explains, was widespread community interest in keeping the doors of the shop open and helping Humphrey find a buyer. "I came into the store soon after the letter was published and she even asked me if I´d be interested in purchasing it.

When I told her I didn´t have any experience, she offered to train me." What followed for Palacios was a discussion with her husband, Jorge, and the subsequent offering of a bid. "A few days later we were owners of the shop! We just couldn´t imagine our neighborhood without this precious resource that has inspired and nurtured two generations of young readers. We´ve never regretted our decision, even during these tough economic times."

She reflects that she grew up with books all over and relished the weekly jaunts her family took to the neighborhood library. "Books and reading were integral parts of my life growing up and it´s that same love of books I´ve been able to share with my children. The real, urgent need to connect with children by age nine and turn them onto reading with a good book is underestimated.

That´s why it´s so crucial to support independent booksellers who are able to host author events, donate prizes for silent auctions, and support the community around us."
Hearing a child laugh at stories and illustrations during a reading and then interacting with the author is a memory-maker that Palacios believes they´ll cherish for a lifetime.
"I remember meeting Ray Bradbury at my 8th grade middle school in San Diego four decades ago and he remains my favorite author. When was the last author event put on?"

Read the full. inspiring story and of the challenges facing the independent bookseller today online.

No comments: