How (and why) I Decided to Write Children's Books


Back in the days before the Internet, people had to rely on each other for information.  As co-owner of a children’s-only bookstore, there were many opportunities for parents who frequented Once Upon A Time to share stories, tips and advice on parenting.  The store served as a kind of community center, as we held countless story hours, activity sessions and author/illustrator appearances.

We even had a section of the store with books that were dedicated to special issues – these could be anything from adjusting to a new sibling, to potty training, to going from a crib to a bed…and also included more serious topics such as explaining death to a small child whose family had suffered such a loss.

On multiple occasions, our staff was asked for a simple book to encourage a young child to get rid of the bottle and drink from a cup.  We researched this, consulted an actual reference book called Books In Print (that was the equivalent of Google search for children’s books!) We also asked our publishers' sales reps if their company published this, and lo and behold, such a book did not exist. 

This led my partner to say “We should do it! Why not?” Who had better experience as moms ourselves and better communication with the numerous parents who came into our store? And we had the perfect models – the little tikes were living in our homes and our friends’ homes! We even found the perfect photographer to capture the precious little ones in bright, engaging photographs.  It was our experience that toddlers responded best to bouncy, rhyming text and photographs of children like themselves. And so, we brainstormed and wrote and photographed and sent out a proposal to a publisher and went on with our lives. Imagine our delight when Putnam Publishing contacted us to say that they wanted to publish My Bye-Bye Bottle Book as well as three other books we went on to create to complete a series of photo shape board books.

My Dressing Book

My Eating Book

My Bye-Bye Bottle Book

By Jane Gelbard and Betsy Bober Polivy

Photographs by Arthur Klonsky


Many years have passed and they have since gone out of print but the topics are as important and relevant for children today as they were back in 1989.  The back of each book read:

“Each sturdy book in this new series introduces familiar childhood activities with engaging rhymes and big, bright photographs – sure to entertain and encourage toddlers in their own growing-up experiences.”

P.S. the baby boy on the cover of My Bye-Bye Bottle Book is now 25 years old – and the little girl on the cover of My Dressing Book is 28, married and has a beautiful little girl! 

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Read more

Children’s Book Creator “Par Excellence”: Todd Parr


Oh Brother! Oh Sister! A New Baby in the Family


Roberta Kramer May 6 2020

My children and I spent many hours at your store picking out the new books on the market. Of course there were the wonderful holiday and gift baskets. It was always a wonderful activity for my two daughters. Since we lived across the street it was a perfect place to spend many a morning.

Chris August 17 2012

I agree!

Jessie August 16 2012

I love baby book baskets!

Cindy August 12 2012

I loved your book store on Quaker Ridge Rd!