The It List: Five things to do this weekend, Feb. 8-9

THE BOOK OF LIFE: “Each plant has a story to tell. Each plant is not just a bundle of striving molecules like us, but a set of ideas-made-flesh, a library in bloom,” — so says UC Botanical Garden whose new exhibit, The Book of Life: A Photographic Bibliography, has artist-in-residence Becky Jaffe pair her photographs of the garden with books on ecology, evolutionary biology and ethnobotany in a “visual ode to nature’s spellbinding storytelling.” The Book of Life, Saturday Feb. 8 to Feb. 22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., UC Botanical Garden, Julia Morgan Hall, 200 Centennial Drive. Admission free with garden admission. (Note: Exhibit is closed to public on Feb. 12, 18 and 21.)

TAMIM ANSARY AT THE LIBRARY Afghan-American author Tamim Ansary will discuss his latest book, The Invention of Yesterday: A 50,000 Year History of Human Culture, Conflict, and Connection, with Berkeleyside Executive Editor and author Frances Dinkelspiel Saturday afternoon at the Berkeley Public Library. The book looks at history as an “on-going drama,” where events are not just stories of heroes or battles or geography, but rather are a narrative that connects us all. Starting from before the creation of written language to today, when technology is upending our means of communication, Ansary explores how humans invent stories to explain the unfathomable. Some of Ansary’s other books have focused on Afghan and Muslim history. Tamim Anasary author talk, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2 p.m., Central Branch of the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. Berkeley.

ELECTRIC SQUEEZEBOX ORCHESTRA Ready to get your groove on? The Electric Squeezebox Orchestra is the Bay Area’s very own Big Band, and it continues its residency at the California Jazz Conservatory, performing Sunday with some of the top Bay Area High School jazz musicians, under Erik Jekabson’s Advanced High School Jazz Workshop. The 17-piece big band draws inspiration from a large variety of influences to create its own raw original groovy content, composed and arranged by its members. Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, Sunday Feb. 9, 4:30 p.m., California Jazz Conservatory, 2040 Addison St. Berkeley. Tickets: $10 for students and $15 for general public.  

PHOTOS AND PHOTO-HAIGA Head over to Tomate Café in West Berkeley during opening hours, any time through Feb. 29, to see photographs by Berkeley native Alan Bern along with his “photo-haiga.” Haiga (paintings) are typically painted by haiku poets — haijin — and are often accompanied by a haiku poem. In this case, Bern’s photos stand in for the paintings. Bern, who recently retired as a children’s librarian at the Berkeley Public Library, is a photographer, poet and storywriter with three books under his belt. He and his old friend, artist Robert Woods, both worked as commercial printers and have operated Lines & Faces, their press and publisher specializing in illustrated poetry broadsides, since 1974. On Sunday, 4-6 p.m., there will be an exhibit reception which is open to the public, and Bern, along with Vivian Pisano will read essays, stories and poems at 5 p.m. Tomate Café, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., 2265 Fifth Street (at Bancroft Way) Berkeley.


THE CHILDREN A long-married couple live in a ramshackle cottage near the edge of a nuclear disaster that recalls the 2011 Fukushima catastrophe. Intruding into their somewhat eccentric existence comes Rose, a former co-worker at the power station whose appearance after 30 years is a mystery that will inspire both laughter and an increasing sense of menace. But Rose is on an important mission. A recent hit on Broadway after successful run at London’s Royal Court, Lucy Kirkwood ’s play, The Children, is, according to Aurora Theatre Company, “a beautifully written puzzle about personal responsibility, guilt, and what today’s elders owe the young.” Directed Barbara Damashek. ‘The Children,’ Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Aurora Theatre Company, 2081 Addison St. Berkeley.

Don’t miss these other events featured on Berkeleyside:

The many fashion-forward hats of Myra Melford

Meet the man who decided reading ‘The Great Gatsby’ aloud in its entirety would make good theater

Big Screen Berkeley: More SF IndieFest

Tracey Taylor is co-founder and editorial director at Berkeleyside. Email: tracey@berkeleyside.com.