Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

How One Literary Landmark is Surviving the Pandemic


Need a reason to smile this week? Mary McNamara of the LA Times gives us plenty with her hopeful feature on the country’s oldest children’s bookstore, Once Upon a Time Books in Montrose, CA.


Photo of Maureen Palacios, owner of Once Upon a Time Bookstore in Montrose, CA, with her daughter Jessica Palacios.

Maureen Palacios, left, owner of Once Upon a Time Bookstore in Montrose, CA, with her daughter Jessica Palacios. CREDIT: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times


For a community located in a quiet corner of rumbling Los Angeles, this small shop has been a portal to the magical since 1966. For many authors and illustrators, it has been, if not the shining knight, the steadfast steed carrying them further through their own fairytale, one fantastical book release to the next. And for the Palacios, the local family who purchased the bookstore from its retiring owner in 2003, Once Upon a Time continues to be a labor of love offered in the name of children’s literature. COVID-19, however, has not made any of this easy. 
To say independent bookstores are suffering is an understatement. As noted in the NY Times, the American Booksellers Association (ABA) reported that an indie bookstore has closed every week since the start of the pandemic. For some, survival has been found in contact-less services and new marketing strategies, but when it comes to feeling hopeful, the bulk of optimism for literary landmarks like Once Upon a Time rests on the support of loyal bibliophiles coming together to save what they love and encouraging family and friends to do the same. Though the future is still uncertain, this is something and it’s a start. 
With the approaching holiday season, we can continue saving what we love by buying directly from independent bookstores over bigger retailers, no matter how convenient their shipping times are. Indies can be the first stop for all kinds of gifts – books, gift cards, novelty items (stationary, we’re looking at you) – and, of course, are perennial havens, even when online. 
As loyal bibliophiles ourselves, we’re purchasing all five books selected by our first #SCBWIBookStopPromo winner Natalia Paruzel-Gibson from Once Upon a Time bookstore. Larissa van Gurchom-Colijn and other BookStop giveaway winners will receive a $100 gift card to their indie of choice. The SCBWI BookStop program connects readers to over 1,000 books written and/or illustrated by our members. Through BookStop, we aim to support independent bookstores and the creators filling their shelves. We hope you’ll join us in doing the same. 
Stay tuned to our Instagram for the next #SCBWIBookStopPromo giveaway. Click here to browse SCBWI BookStop. 



To shop from Once Upon a Time, click here. For more independent bookstores, visit: