As one of her teachers at Mater Christi School, I remember North Riverside resident Kathleen Spale as a quiet, very nice, bright student who would go on to do good things. Many may know her as the circulation technical coordinator at the North Riverside Public Library, but now we will all know her as a published illustrator for a children’s book titled, Samson’s Tale.

Spale will be on hand Sunday, May 1, at Magic Tree Book Store in Oak Park from 1 to 3 p.m., where she will be signing copies of the book and introducing you to some of the “models” for her illustrations, including, hopefully, Ruby the Golden Retriever, who posed for the book. Without giving too much of the story away, it is based on a true story of a boy who is dealing with cancer and the dog who enters his life.

Spale’s story as an illustrator is one of hard work, attending Trinity High School, earning a B.A. from Loyola University, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Academy of Arts University in San Francisco. While her original interest was in animation, she was steered toward illustrating children’s books and connected with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In addition to her current book, she has done book illustrations for covers and seldom if ever meets the authors.

Our illustrious illustrator does not plan to “give up her day job” but hopes to maintain a dual career, so she is completing her master’s degree in Library and Information Services at Dominican University. She is also completing an independent study at Northwestern University, doing research on an art collection reference. She is hoping in the future to have an exhibit based on her research.

Spale stresses that one of the many reasons she enjoys her work at the library is being able to interact with the patrons. It balances her illustrating work, which tends to be more of a solitary profession.

Some of you may wonder if I remember Kathleen from grade school as being the one who spent a lot of time drawing or coloring. Honestly, I don’t because she was too intent on her studies and doing well, which she did. It is always gratifying to see your students do well, that they remember you and don’t call you “my old teacher” but say “she was my teacher in grade school.”

I will purchase a book on Sunday for Kathleen to sign and, being the smart girl she is, I know she will write something appropriate.