Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Story time at the library? Book it

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Greg Peck
Monday, June 3, 2013

It was quite the party Saturday at Hedberg Public Library in Janesville, where longtime Children’s Room worker Jamie Swenson launched her new picture book, “Boom! Boom! Boom!” This book, published by New York's Farrar, Straus & Giroux, tells how a child copes with a stormy night. It couldn’t be more timely, what with thunderstorms and tornadoes ravaging the Midwest in recent weeks.

An overflow crowd of children and adults poured into a program room for the launch party. Swenson and Sharon Grover, the library’s head of youth services, invited the little ones to sit on colorful quilts in front of the room. My wife and I took our grandchildren, 11-year-old Lexi and 4-year-old Remy, and Lexi went to sit up front with her little brother. Grover grabbed her guitar, and soon the two library staffers had the kids singing and rhyming and stomping their feet to get warmed up for the debut of Swenson’s book. They chose volunteer kids to handle various noise makers to simulate the sights and sounds of a thunderstorm at key spots while Swenson read her pages.

It was my first time watching the children’s librarians in action, and they sure know how to engage an audience and stir a passion among impressionable young readers. Afterward, they announced that it wouldn’t be a “birthday party” for this book without a cake.

“That would be ridiculous,” responded a youngster, triggering chuckles from the adults.

Grandma took Remy and Lexi to a table where they could make and decorate their own noisemakers, then to get cake. Meanwhile, I got in a long line to buy the $17 hardcover book, then another line of dozens waiting to get Swenson’s signature.

Every author can only wish to have a launch party draw such a nice crowd, a captive audience of smiling faces and a line of customers.

Congrats to Swenson and the whole library staff.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook

Last updated: 8:24 am Monday, July 29, 2013

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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