"Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise."
So reads the memorable inscription above the door of Shakespeare & Company, one of my favorite bookstores.
This quaint Parisian bookstore welcomes strangers with quiet mystery, magical selections on the bookshelves, and the occasional French cheese hidden among the books. Far from Paris, at the equally enchanting but much more lively Blackwell Regional Library Children’s Department in the heart of West Philadelphia, we welcome strangers with the gentle chaos and well read books only found in a much-loved children’s library. On one fateful Saturday afternoon of homework frenzy and musical preschool computers, I was about to encounter two strangers who would turn out to be book angels.
Amidst the noise, my attention is drawn to a bright pink laptop and the two adults who are working so intently on something that they might as well be on a deserted island. Blending professional helpfulness with personal nosiness, I inquire about their project.
As it turns out, this pair of women disguised as regular Saturday afternoon library patrons are none other than Coretta Scott King Honor Award Winning illustrator, Nancy Devard, and up-and-coming author and School District of Philadelphia teacher, Kathleen Wainwright. And the project on the bright pink laptop? That turns out to be a picture book which, after many a Saturday afternoon of work, has now been published!
I welcome everyone, stranger and friend alike, to celebrate this collaboration of local Philadelphia talent. Relive the simple joys of outdoor summer games as celebrated in their book, Summer in the City. And while you’re visiting, perhaps you’ll discover a new favorite library full of magical books, gentle chaos, and strangers in disguise.
Join us for the Summer in the City Block Party Book Launch Event:
Saturday, April 20th 2013
1:00 & 3:00 p.m.
Lucien E. Blackwell West Philadelphia Regional Library
125 S. 52nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19139
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