The Who’s are in Smithfield

Image: Who’s a Who at Seuss’s party? — Hundreds of children and parents came to the Smithfield Youth Center to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday and to celebrate reading.

Who’s a Who at Seuss’s party? — Hundreds of children and parents came to the Smithfield Youth Center to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday and to celebrate reading. (Dave South)

They squirmed, giggled, laughed, ran around, and had a blast. Hundreds of children came to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday Tuesday afternoon at the Smithfield Youth Center. Some dressed up as Seuss characters but even Star Wars Storm Troopers and Winnie The Pooh came. Stories were read, prizes given away and in the end the children left with a brand new book of their very own.

“This is my 10th year doing the Seuss party,” said Karen Bowling who is the Children’s Librarian and Assistant Director at the Smithfield Library. “It has certainly evolved since I first started. When we first started it was more of a read-a-thon where we had readers come in and read to small groups and children.”

“But as it became bigger we ran out of room in the library so it became more of an event and we moved into the youth center,” continued Bowling. “And so we have moved into the Youth Center and it is more like a performance now and a lot of fun.”

Starting this year’s performance was Loralee Choate. “This is my favorite day of the whole year,” she told the children as she began reading Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.

Anyone who works with children knows it’s a huge challenge to keep their attention. Doubly so for the young children — mostly pre-school to maybe 3rd or 4th grade — sitting on the floor in front of Ms. Choate. Yet almost 300 children and parents sat in rapt attention to every word.

Karen Bowling said later, “I love interacting with the kids on such a big level because the library is so small we have little groups in during the week. To perform to big groups is a lot of fun.”

Next up was Melinda Potts who told her version of Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox. It is a unique twist on the story of Rapunzel who has a hard time hearing the prince call to her from the the base of her tower saying, “Rapunzel, let down your hair.”

To which Rapunzel sent down her underwear.

This kids laughed gleefully as Rapunzel continued to pelt the prince with dirty socks, gowns, a cantaloupe and eventually even her maid. The prince finally decided the maid was fair maiden enough and a lot less effort than Rapunzel. So they rode off together leaving Rapunzel to wonder, “Why didn’t he just use the back door?”

The third story was told by the Smithfield Health Days Royalty of 2009 — McKinzie Moore, Courtney Blair, Hillary Hogan and Erin Roberts (who had traveled down from Rexburg, Idaho). Together they read The Frog Prince Continued by Jon Scieska and illustrated by Steve Johnson. Wearing tiaras the young ladies took turns reading and showing the children the illustrations of the life of the Frog Prince after he was kissed by the princess.

And finally the last story Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd about a dog with only one spot was told by Karen Bowling herself dressed in a white “doggy” outfit complete with floppy ears and a brown nose. Miss Karen — as the children call her — handed out colored “spots”. As she read the book about a dog’s day of adventure who ended up getting a red spot from jam, blue one from paint, green one from grass. As each spot was added in the story, the children would put the same color spot on Miss Karen. Soon she was covered with spots and had all the kids count them. There were ten spots in all.

The afternoon ended with a raffle drawing. Library board members Heather Housely and Arnold Neilson drew names of children who each received a book and a stuffed animal. Then Bowling announced that every child could go to the table and pick out a book for their own to take home (only one per child and limited to 3 per family). They dashed to the table and whisked away all but a few books before heading home with their new treasure.

If ever there was evidence of the importance of reading it is the look of happiness on a child’s face in getting a new book.

“Every year the library gets a grant,” said Bowling. “I use my portion to buy books and those books are what I use to give out to the kids that participate in the summer reading program. If they participate they get a book.”

“The rest of the books are for the Seuss party,” she continued. “We had such a record breaking year with our summer reading that we can buy more books than planned. I had a little less to work with before this. We are hoping next year to really be able to find money in other places and do some grants and make sure that everyone gets a book and we don’t have to put a limitation on it.”

Bowling expressed thanks to the Smithfield Library Board, Kathy Downs her co-worker who helped put this together, the State of Utah for the grant to buy children’s books and a big thanks to the ladies who read stories to the children.

“Yes, I really love Smithfield and I really want to encourage people to use the library,” said Bowling. “It is a great resource and we really are doing everything we can with what we have and I encourage people who would like to see the library grow to join the Friends of the Library and get involved and see if we can’t make our library better for the community.”

The Smithfield Library Board

  • Karen Cripps — Chair
  • Arnold Neilson
  • Patty Bingham
  • Heather Housely
  • Mike Neilson
  • Kelly Olsen (not in attencance)
  • Michelle Daines (not in attendance)