So many children, she didn't know what to do

Hyde Park resident Mae Wilson sits at Kimbark Avenue, hugging a stuffed goose as she welcomes families to the 57th Street Children’s Book Fair. Her first year playing Mother Goose, the opening parade’s grand marshal, the grandmotherly volunteer kicks off the day by leading Peter Rabbit, Lyle Lyle Crocodile, and other book characters in a procession around the fairgrounds.

Throughout Sunday afternoon fairgoers approach her and recite lines from Mother Goose’s nursery rhymes. “I always say, ‘Oh, I am so honored and humbled that you remember that!’” Two girls run up to pet Wilson’s goose, while their mother comments, “We just had to say hello.” As the three leave the fair, Wilson laughs, “That’s a pleasant notoriety.”

Lab Schools parent and four-time volunteer Sophie Worobec notes that her friend Rebecca Janowitz, LAB’70, started the fair 18 years ago as a back-to-school celebration. Then, distracted from recounting the event’s history by a booth advertising $5 paperbacks, Worobec pauses. “Oh,” she reminds herself, turning away from the books, “I better concentrate.”

The book fair, Janowitz says, has blossomed into a Hyde Park tradition featuring singers, dancers, storytellers, puppeteers, author signings, and dozens of book vendors. And not only young children enjoy the festivities. Mixed in with face-painted toddlers are University students and faculty. Dana Kroop, ’07, shows off her glittered construction-paper crown, while Rebecca Knapp and Laura Mazer, both ’06, read a Babar picture book aloud to each other. Knapp asks, “Can we live here forever?”

Leila S. Sales, ’06

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September 20, 2004