An almost three-foot tall bronze sculpture of a frog prince reading a book has found a new home in the Waukegan Public Library's Stimson Sculpture Garden, along with two bronze benches with depictions of children reading.
The sculptures are a part of the Library Foundation's project titled "Art of a Story," launched in 2000. The dedication for the new sculptures will take place next spring in the courtyard of the library, 128 North County St., downtown Waukegan.
The Stimson Sculpture Garden invokes the joy of reading through art sponsored by private donors. One of the new benches, titled "Maxey and Me," portrays a boy reading on a bench with his dog and is sponsored by Steffi and Elmer Stone in honor of their sons and grandchildren.
The second new bench, "Best Friends," is sponsored by the family of former librarian Elvera Lake, and portrays a boy and a girl sitting and reading on a bench. Both benches will include memorial plaques.
The benches were purchased to replace two stolen sculptures from the library's courtyard last summer. During the night around May 30, two local men cut away at the stone wall under two bronze statues before removing them and selling them to JB Metals, a scrap yard on the West Side of Chicago.
The thieves were paid $268.80 for the statues, which were melted down by the scrap company. The pair of statues weighed about 75 pounds each and were valued at $15,000. Both men were arrested and charged with felony theft from a government property by Waukegan police.
"Our courtyard sculptures really add to the beauty of downtown. It is a shame that two of them will no longer be enjoyed by our patrons and concert goers. However, I am grateful that we were able to contact the original donors and find replacements that captured the intent of their original donation," said Richard Lee, executive director of the Waukegan Public Library.
The first stolen sculpture, titled "Little Scholar," portrayed a boy propped on his elbows reading a book. The second, "Imagine That," depicted a girl sitting on a stack of books while reading a book.
The two new bronze benches will replace the stolen statues in the Sculpture Garden on the east side of the library and were paid for by money from the insurance company.
A representative of JB Metals expressed remorse for the company's role in the thievery and offered to pay some of the cost for a replacement sculpture. As a result, library staff purchased "Frog Prince Reading Book," which includes two baby frogs listening to a story, for $4,240. JB Metals agreed to pay $2,120, half of the total cost of the sculpture.
Since "Frog Prince Reading Book" is only partially paid for by JB Metals, the library is looking for donors to help with the remaining cost of the sculpture. If you are interested in helping sponsor the frog prince, contact Lee at (847) 623-2041.