Upper Nyack Elementary School’s annual Pickwick Book Fair is Nov 13-17.
by Dianne Snyder
Pickwick Books is placed like a gumdrop on the main strip of Broadway in the Village of Nyack, just south of where it intersects Main Street. John Dunnigan has had his book store stocked in a merry flurry of old and new titles since 1975. That’s 42 years, but who’s counting?
Pickwick Books was originally opened by Herbert Sperber in 1945, the name an allusion to Charles Dickens’ “Pickwick Papers.” Pickwick was originally opened as a stationary store, located where Starbucks now stands on Main Street. Gradually it started carrying more and more books. The store eventually moved to 1 South Broadway, where Antiques Master now resides.
Dunnigan, who had a background in publishing, came along in 1975 and reopened Pickwick after a brief closing. He caught Nyack when it was, in his words, just “on its ear.”
In the late ‘70s, Dunnigan brought Pickwick to many local schools in the district and the Annual Pickwick Book Fair was born. When interest was piqued in one school, it spurred others to follow suit. Because the Fair was a big underaking, Dunnigan wondered to himself, “How am I going to do this?” But with his brother’s help and many vans and sheer will of participating friends and parents, he put on the fair. Dunnigan was inspired to put on the fair because he wanted to pass his love of books to children. The Fair got parents involved in their children’s reading lives, and it got them involved in the school in a way that was educational and fun. In a peak year in the early ‘80s, John was putting on about 15 book fairs each autumn.
“The thing is,” Dunnigan said,“when you put a book in a child’s hands, magic can happen.”.
Upper Nyack Elementary School will be having its annual Pickwick book fair next week, starting on November 13 and going until the 17th. Daily from 9-4.