Library adds new dimension to 'I Spy'

Hinsdale families tasked with creating 3-D displays with different monthly themes

Hinsdale Public Library and its patrons are taking the "I Spy" concept to a whole new level.

Each month the library will have a 3-D I Spy case downstairs in the youth services department. September's Back to School display was created by the Cudney family of Hinsdale.

"It's something I've seen in libraries throughout the years," said Lisa Winchell, youth and young adult services manager. "The 'I Spy' books have continued to be so popular. We thought this would be a really fun way to engage with the community."

Katherine Wessel, the library's office manager, knew the perfect family to ask to create the first box. She had met Sarah Cudney through the Hinsdale Junior Woman's Club last year.

"She's just got such a great family and her kids are incredible," she said. "They are just great little gentlemen. They are just a great family. If anyone is going to knock something out of the park, it's going to be them."

Wessel, who started working at the library in April, also happens to be the community affairs co-chair for Juniors. She has signed up other HJWC families to create display cases throughout the year.

"We're working on a theme per month," she said. "We really want to leave it up to the families."

The Cudneys worked on their back to school display on and off for about a month, mom Sarah said, getting help from Luke, 13, Levi, 11 and Graham, 7.

"We all had a different task," Luke said. "I was more the technical part. For me it was monitoring the printer."

Luke used the family's Toybox 3-D printer to create miniature bookshelves and a magnifying glass.

Levi helped out by setting up items and affixing them in place, using a combination of Elmer's glue, hot glue and tape.

"It was hard for us to make things visible and hide them at the same time and distribute them throughout the box," Sarah said.

The Cudneys included 36 different items, some of which appear multiple times, including a calculator, paint palettes, laptop computers and crayons.

"I like the mini scissors set," Graham said.

The family, with the help of dad Nick, created riddles to solve that provide clues to eight of the items in the display.

"The library suggested making it a little more educational, so that's why we have the riddles on the side to make it more challenging to find things," Sarah said.

Even the act of locating items helps kids build memory and learning skills, Winchell said.

"Asking kids to practice searching for details in pictures and to discriminate between a lot of visual data strengthens skills that carry over into reading," she said, noting the books have remained popular because they are fun and engaging.

"I get such a thrill when I share 'I Spy' books with reluctant readers and see their eyes light up," she added.

The Cudneys, who moved here in June 2022, are far from reluctant readers. Luke enjoys World War II nonfiction, Levi likes the "Harry Potter" books and Graham is a fan of the "Wings of Fire" and "I Survived" series. They enjoyed contributing something to a place they love to visit.

"It was a great idea," Sarah said. "It was a really fun thing. We were honored to be able to help participate in something at the library."

Madison Lake-Wickham and her family are looking forward to creating the display for October, which will have a fall theme.

"The twins are 9 and they aren't familiar with the whole 'I Spy' books concept," she said. "I remember having the computer game and getting the books from the library. I'm excited to introduce them to 'I Spy.' "

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean