From real-world history to creatures of mythology, many things fuel author Zetta Elliott’s imagination. “Magic is power,” she observes, “and any opportunity to talk to kids about power, I’m there.” No surprise, then, that she’s crafted the successful middle school series Dragons in a Bag, the fourth book of which was just published. Elliott, 50, writes for all ages, from picture books to poetry collections. Canadian by birth, she moved to Brooklyn after college, then, in 2020, to Chicago, where she bought a condo in Hyde Park, a neighborhood she loves to explore — and shop.

Kayra Imports

1001 E. 53rd St., Hyde Park

“I’ve bought fabric in Senegal and Ghana, and Kayra has an impressive selection. They also carry scented oil for my hair and shea butter for my skin.”


Ankara cloth
Photograph: Zetta Elliott

Ankara cloth “Inspired by Carl Van Vechten’s Harlem Renaissance portraits, I bought one yard of six patterns. I hope to hire a tailor to design a dress as elegant as the ones in Kayra’s windows.” $7 a yard

Coral and turquoise bracelets “These slip on easily, adding a pop of color to an outfit.” $15 each


Da Book Joint
Photograph: John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune

Da Book Joint

330 E. 51st St., Bronzeville

“This Black-owned bookstore is cozy, colorful, and bright, with an amazing collection. I consider it my neighborhood if I can walk there in under an hour.”


Zora Neale Hurston book set
Photograph: Amistad

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water “As a kid-free children’s book author, I wanted to gift this age-appropriate picture book to the youngest readers in my life.” $18

Zora Neale Hurston box set “There’s something irresistible about having all of her books in a beautifully designed box.” $130


Hyde Park Art Center

5020 S. Cornell Ave., Hyde Park

“I love galleries where you can focus on just a few artists at a time. Plus, it has a cozy Mexican café.”

‘In Relation’ by Natasha Moustache
Photograph: Natasha Moustache


In Relation by Natasha Moustache “This photo portrait is quiet yet profound. What’s facing forward, what’s in focus — I love the sense of mystery.” Price on request

Medio Círculo-Creciendo-Tomás by Sofía Fernández Díaz “As a child of the ’70s, this textile caught my eye. I love its muted tones and frayed edges and the thread’s sheen.” Price on request