Evanston Library, King Lab Elementary

Upon arriving in Evanston, Ill., on the train, I walked straight to the Evanston Public Library. This was one of my favorite places as a child and where I got my first library card. I headed there immediately because I was carrying a stack of Growing Patterns books for my event later in the evening. Because Growing Patterns has gone into a second printing, copies are scarce in the warehouse so I hand carried some from the IRA annual conference. When I showed the librarian at the desk my wolfsnail, she invited Maria over to see what I had. Maria quickly named the prey snails after the other members of her family: Tarik and Esther. She and her Dad were considering how to say, “snail,” in Dutch and Arabic, which are Maria’s other languages. What a lucky little girl.

I forgot to ask someone to take photographs during my presentation at the library. I have only this one of me with David Orr, who was a buddy of my Dad’s when they were graduate students. A dozen or so friends from my early years in Evanston — including my godparents, neighbors, contemporaries of mine, and a few in the younger generation — came out to hear me give my talk on Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator and Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature. At one point, I showed a slide of what I looked like “back in the day” when I lived in Evanston and at another I showed a picture of me sprawled on the ground taking photographs. Many friends were sure the second was a photograph of my mom, who has spent her fair share of time in awkward positions to get a good picture.

Janice Bojda

I am grateful to Janice Bojda, the library’s children’s librarian, for her help in setting up this event and for help selling books. There were signs all around that the economic downturn is squeezing resources for libraries and schools. My godparents told me of cutbacks at two local branches of the library and, even, a possible shutdown. Several newspapers had stories about teacher layoffs. In this environment, it was gratifying to meet teachers, librarians, and citizens, who have strong ties to libraries and who believe in raising the resources to keep schools strong, too. The next morning, I visited one of Evanston’s fine elementary schools, Martin Luther King Jr. Laboratory School. I appreciate the help of Shari Joffe, a King Lab mom, who arranged my visit and took photographs for me. We shared a nice lunch afterward, during which we talked about our work (she’s an editor of children’s books — mostly nonfiction).

King Lab first graders in library

Reading Growing Patterns

Close up look at a wolfsnail

More students get a close look at wolfsnail

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