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A whimsical mural may inspire a new generation of readers in the children's reading room at the Rum River Library in Anoka. Anoka High School art teacher Diane Gronewold and eight of her advanced studio-art students created the 23-by-8-foot mural depicting zoo animals emerging from the pages of a book. The work also intermixes images of the Minneapolis skyline, a farm and a castle, and representations of the four seasons in a fanciful melange of fantasy and reality that Gronewold said she and her students hoped would capture young readers' imaginations. "We just had a blast," Gronewold, an art teacher of more than 25 years, said of the project.

The mural emerged out of a donation by the five adult sons of Adrienne Yeager, an Anoka County Library Board member, and her husband, Dr. Terrell Yeager, a former Library Board member, in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary. The Andover couple met with children's program staff members and Gronewold about creating something for the reading room, and the concept that emerged "showed in a very gentle way how important reading is," Adrienne Yeager said last week.

The concepts in the mural are "designed to support story hours, where we emphasize literacy," Anoka County library director Marlene Moulton Janssen said, saying the animals in the mural can be used as a tool to help children learn phonetics that aid them in preparing to read.

The artists put the finishing touches on the painting last week, and after the mural cures for several days, they will apply a coat of water-based varnish to keep the mural from yellowing. Story times start the week of June 16; go to for more information.