Rosetta Books sits in the beautiful hinterland town of Maleny. It is one of those bookshops with an enveloping mood of quiet happiness. I can’t read in public because I pull faces when engrossed, but plainly the sheltered corners here make people feel at home. The store is full of people unashamedly reading in the many comfortable chairs.
A couple of months ago, I found myself sitting in such a chair waiting to talk with owner Anne Brown about a presentation. As I went over my CV in my head, a connection was made and I found myself thinking back on a memorable room in which books were not just a pervasive presence, but almost a structural feature.
At a time many years ago, my good friend Chele Simpson introduced me to literary agent Serafina Clarke. Serafina’s office was in the sitting room of her Shepherds Bush, London home. I was somewhat overwhelmed to be meeting her but I was totally unprepared for what was inside.
Stopping to take in the sight through a fairly thick drift of tobacco smoke, the shape of the room was soft and indistinct as the piles of books undulated out from the walls and teetered in columns at odd intervals. I could not tell you what colour the walls were, or even the floor, the place was simply the colour of books.
We held a brief meeting which resulted in my acquiring my first illustration work for a UK publisher, the cover of Alice Alone by Amanda Brookfield. Through Serafina I was eventually taken on by David Lewis Illustration a London based illustration agency, and so began an adventure into the UK market.
Back to Rosettas, during Book Week I was able to present a dialogue of my work to a room full of adults. After a lovely introduction by author/publisher, Jill Morris of the Book farm, a pleasant evening was had in the company of people who love picture books for their own sake. It’s useful to discuss children’s books with adults as well. It’s their enthusiasm that will carry through to the child. It was also wonderful to meet other grownups who proudly pronounce their love of picturebooks, for their own sake.