Book-loving kids form Homewood book store’s first book club

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Book-loving kids form Homewood book store’s first book club

August 31, 2019 - 16:11
The commentary below represents the ideas, observations and opinions of the author.

Bibliophiles often find it difficult to contain their enthusiasm for books within the confines of one brain. All that appreciation, critique, interrogation and speculation has to find an outlet. Book clubs are one of the preferred methods of dealing with the problem.

  Members of the Bookie’s Kids
  Book Club pose on Aug. 3 for
  a photo with Malayna Evans,
  back row left, author of “Jagger
  Jones and the Mummy’s Ankh,”
  the first book the club discussed.
  Book club founder Penny Greep is
  in the front row, center, wearing
  green shorts.
(Eric Crump/H-F 

Penny Greep, 9, ace bibliophile of Homewood, wanted for some time to create a book club. Things weren’t coming together fast enough to suit her, however. Finding the right place was the challenge.

“But then Bookie’s moved into town and here we are,” said her mother, Jo Greep, during the first meeting on Aug. 3 of the Bookie’s Kids Book Club.

Keith Lewis, owner of Bookie’s New and Used Books, has long sponsored book clubs at his Beverly store, where his favorite clubs have one rule: Books are selected only if the author can meet with the group, either in person or by video conferencing. 

Lewis knew Malayna Evans, author of “Jagger Jones and the Mummy’s Ankh,” would be available early in August, so he suggested the book to Penny, and the Homewood store’s first book club was born.

More than a dozen girls of approximately 9-year-old vintage attended the first meeting of the club at Redbird Cafe.

The book is a time-travel adventure that starts on the South Side of Chicago and takes readers to ancient Egypt. 

Bookie’s staff member Narita Sharma served as facilitator of the discussion, but after she got things going, the girls kept the questions coming, asking Evans about her writing process, about the development of “The Mummy’s Ankh” and about Egypt.

“Can you tell us a fun fact about Egypt?”

Pillows were made of wood and were inscribed with magic spells to aid sleep, Evans said.

“Can you tell us a not-fun fact about Egypt?”

That was Lewis’ favorite question from the kids. 

“I thought it was a thing of beauty,” he said about the first club meeting. His daughter, Tenny, was one of the participants. 

Jo Greep agreed.

“It’s summer break and they’re reading and getting together to talk about books,” she said.

Penny was pleased with the first meeting and credited Bookie’s for helping organize it. She’s such a big fan of the book store that the family’s account is in her name. 

She’s not quite satisfied with the club name, though.

“I wanted like Bookie’s Adventurers or Book Explorers, something that made me think like it’s a portal to a new world,” she said. 

That’s something to discuss at the next meeting. Lewis said the plan was still being worked out, and timing will depend on author availability.

Evans’ not-fun fact about Egypt? They mummified animals, she said. 

Train station project

  ComEd crews work on Thursday
  to migrate power lines from the
  east side to the west side of 
  Park Avenue in Homewood.
  Crump/H-F Chronicle)

Funding for the renovation of the east side of the Homewood train station is still uncertain but will soon be resolved. The east side will be completed by Metra. The groundwork has been laid for the west side of the project. Amtrak is responsible for that work. 

The project wIll begin on the west side once ComEd power lines are moved from the east side of Park Avenue to the west side of the street. Several weeks ago, Homewood Public Works crews removed a number of trees from the parkway on Park Avenue to make space for the power poles. Work on moving the lines was expected to begin in late August.

In the meantime, the village has urged residents to contact the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to advocate for Homewood’s grant application. Village officials announced in early August that a request to change the funding formula might prove detrimental to Homewood’s grant for the train station project.

CMAP officials said they have received more than 500 comments on the program but do not know how many were from Homewood residents. The program has two more review steps and final decisions are expected by Oct. 10.

Iwo Jima flag adventure continues

  Holding a Marine Corp Iwo Jima
  flag are Marine Corp veterans
  from left, Don Farnam, Donald
  Tollefsen of Mokena, John
  Sofedes of Buffalo Grove and
  John Beele of Flossmoor. Farnam
  and Sofedes are Iwo Jim battle 
  veterans who added their 
  signatures to the flag.
  Compton/H-F Chronicle)

It has been several months since we checked in with John Beele’s Iwo Jima flag project. The Marine veteran started several years ago to get signatures of Marines who fought in the bloody battle on the Pacific Island during World War II. 

The flag is filled with signatures, but Beele always finds room for more whenever he encounters Iwo Jima veterans. 

In May, Aurelio’s Pizzeria in Homewood hosted a signing event. John Sofedes and Don Farnam signed Beele’s flag while Chronicle photographer Mary Compton captured the moment.

In late July, Beele attended an event at Cantigny Park in Wheaton to honor Native American veterans. There, he got the signature of Thomas H. Begay, a Navajo code talker during the war. 

Beele is known in the H-F area for always singing all three verses of the Marine Corps hymn at public events. He said one of the highlights of the event for him was to hear Begay sing all three verses in Navajo.