Monday, April 29, 2013

Pat Wroclawski: A Bookseller Extraordinaire to the 4th Power!

What better way to continue celebrating our 4 x 4 Blogiversary Celebration by introducing our readers to the incomparable Pat Wroclawski, Bookseller Extraordinaire to the 4th Power.

Sadly, Pat left the world way too soon in March of 2005 but her Spirit lives on in the countless individuals she touched – readers, writers, parents, teachers, me.
So many times I finish a novel, or page through a picture book, or wonder at a biography and think, “Oh, how Pat would have loved this book!”

I knew of Pat long before I – boldly – introduced myself to her. She’d managed the Chestnut Court Book Shop in Winnetka for 15 years, then headed the Children’s Department at Kroch’s and Brentano’s flagship store in Chicago before returning to the renamed Bookstall at Chestnut Court as a consultant.  (FYI: Kroch’s and Brentano’s was the largest bookstore in Chicago and at one time the largest privately-owned bookstore chain in the U.S.  It closed in 1995.)

Everything I’d heard about Pat proved true and then some.
Her never-ending knowledge of children’s literature.
Her impeccable taste in books.
Her love of reading.
Her respect for and interest in writers and illustrators.

Pat’s passion for All Things Children's Book glowed from within.

The Bookstall’s Children’s Book Section became an invaluable resource for me as I traveled my Writer’s Plotline.  The best of the best lined the section’s shelves.
Of course Pat herself proved the best resource of all.

She cheered me on as I made my way, introducing me to esteemed authors and illustrators, to books I should know, to opportunities that helped me grow as a writer, and to the Association of Booksellers for Children, which Pat helped found, now a part of ABA re-named the ABC Children’s Group and a most vital piece of the Children’s Book World.
I shall always remain grateful for how warmly Pat welcomed and embraced my fellow SCBWI-Illinois members.

Pat oversaw my very first Book Signing for my very first book, There Goes Lowell’s Party!
She personally decorated the store’s windows and greeted each and every guest.
And she was there in the audience of Northern Illinois University’s March 1999 Children’s Literature Conference keeping me strong in my first-time-ever speaking presentation to 500 educators and librarians (!)
Seeing Pat’s smile undid my buckling knees.

Bookseller, yes.
As well as mentor, teacher, advocate, friend.

Pat somehow made time too to help found in 1989 yet another important children’s book organization, Winnetka’s and Northfield’s Alliance for Early Childhood “a community collaboration that promotes the healthy growth and development of children from birth to age eight by providing resources, programs, and support for the parents and professionals who teach and care for them.”

For years Pat wrote the organization’s monthly column “At Home with Books.” In the Fall, 2005 issue, her daughter Margaret Wroclawski Griffen shared with readers what her mother taught her about children’s books. 
Titled “Everything I Know About Children’s Books I Learned From My Mother,” this beautiful tribute keeps Pat’s Spirit alive.
The Margaret Wroclawski Memorial Collection now holds some 100 titles at the Winnetka/Northfield Public Library.

Like the books they hand their readers, booksellers change lives too.
Especially extraordinary ones, like my Pat Wroclawski.

Esther Hershenhorn

Don’t forget to celebrate our 4th Blogiversary by entering our 4 x4 give-away!  You can win one of 4 $25 gift certificates to Anderson’s Bookshop!  All you need do is share the name of your favorite independent bookstore, and maybe even bookseller.
Click HERE for details.

1 comment:

April Halprin Wayland said...

What a wonderful tribute to an extraordinary woman, Esther. I'll tell you one thing: I want YOU writing my obit!