Clowns, magicians, gymnasts and a trained dog made the May 21 Listening Lambs at the Library Story Hour an event to remember. The event, held at the Northumberland Public Library, drew a crowd of more than 80 young children and parents.
After Jan Bates, the library’s Coordinator of Children’s Services, read “Olivia” – the tale of a young girl who saves the circus – things moved into high gear. The day’s Story Hour theme was Come to the Circus, and the eager audience did exactly that.
To help set the stage, Library Director Alice Cooper played recorded calliope music as Mary the Clown passed out small tickets to the children. Clown Daisy Dew and Bates, now dressed as the ringmaster, instantly evoked images of the Big Top. The first act was Magician Seth Hughes, assisted by his brother, Isaac. Seth, now 11, said he’d been doing magic tricks since he was 8 and learned them from books at the library.
Then came a performance by Ebie Cox and Bleu, her trained English Labrador Retriever. Story Hours normally include a snack and this time it was cotton candy and popsicles delivered to the kids by the clowns. Daisy Dew the clown then gave them a short history of clowns. Long before clowns were in circuses, she said, clowns were in churches, where they helped the clergy by miming the readings that were done in Latin. This practice ended after the Reformation, so clowns moved to secular events and, eventually, circuses.
The circus ended with the children singing “I Want to be a Lamb” and then a remarkable gymnastic performance by the Northern Neck High Flyers. While the circus marked the final Thursday Hour for children almost 3 through 6 until September, Bates noted that there is plenty going on at the library this summer. Wednesday Story Hours – for children of all ages – begin June 17 and run through August. There also will be Special Reading Events at the Heathsville YMCA on Mondays starting June 15 and running through late July, Space Camp in August, plus various other activities.
“We have great things planned,” Bates said. “Are you going to come back and see me?”
A loud chorus of “Yay!” was the answer.