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The First Dog Comes to North Salem's Library

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - The Ruth Keeler Memorial Library gave visitors a special treat last week. Illustrator Tim Grajek , who lives in Sleepy Hollow, and Somers resident, Alan Sklar , presented a reading and slide show of Ben Cheever's new children's book, The First Dog.

The book is the story of Adam and Eve and their pet dog, whose name was appropriately, Dog. It is intended to be read, "by adults to children," Grajek explained. "Summer is the perfect time for this story because we all wish we could just take our clothes off."

Sklar, an actor and professional narrator who has recorded dozens of audiobooks, read the text while images of Grajek's charming pictures flashed onto the screen. Grajek accompanied the reading with sound effects and original music played on his guitar. It all added up to a delightful presentation.

"God takes a long nap in the book," Sklar pointed out. "In fact, we learn that he likes to take a lot of naps." He added, "which I think explains a lot."

Grajek, whose work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, the Washington Post, the New York Times  and many other publications, has been an illustrator for 30 years. "I always wanted to illustrate a children's book," he said. "And I was always fascinated by Adam and Eve."

Describing his work generally, Grajek said, "I get deeply involved in the places I'm drawing. It's just like being there. So it turns out that I've been to a lot of places." In this particular instance, Grajek went to the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx for inspiration and information.

The author, Ben Cheever, son of the late novelist, John Cheever, was scheduled to attend the event and autograph books but was detained by a heavy work load. Grajek did sign books, however, and CD's of Sklar's reading were also on sale.

Madison Chiudina, 9, was attending with her Mom and her grandmother. She held the book and silently read along as Sklar performed. Her favorite part of the book? "When the dog rolls over and shows his unmentionables."

Madison's Mom explained, "Her dog Cody does that."

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