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November 04, 2007
City of Las Vegas presents the 2nd Annual Target Children’s Book Festival

Jacqueline Monahan - About The Townby Jacqueline Monahan
jaxn8r@msn.com
Photos by Judy Thorburn


 City of Las Vegas presents the 2nd Annual Target Children’s Book Festival


The pages turned on Saturday, November 3rd in Centennial Plaza as the 2nd annual Target Children’s Book Festival got underway. Several open air booths housed the activities, refreshments, authors and sponsors that filled the plaza with books and balloons.

Represented were the Clark County School District, the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, (library card sign up, book exchange and giveaways) Heaven Can Wait Sanctuary, Tino Turtle Travels, (about a turtle who travels the world, camera and all) United Way Success by 6, Wishingstone Publishing, Vegas PBS Ready To Learn, Book Pals, Clark County Reads, (literacy program information and specialists), Nevada Talking Book Services, and the Titanic and Bodies Exhibitions, featuring hands on activities. I saw a mini skeleton and a full-size skull at this booth.

Also featured were the children’s books of http://www.harmonysoup.com/ , the Target Book Club, Nevada Kids to Kids, City of Las Vegas Office of Cultural Affairs, an Arts and Crafts Booth, (construction paper pizzas in their own authentic box) and Animalations Publishing (yes, animals play a big role). Even the United States Air Force had a booth, celebrating their 60th anniversary. Want to fly? You’d better learn how to read first. How’s that for motivation?

The Library District distributed yellow back packs which the children could begin to fill with free books from various sponsors. I saw several that were stuffed until they could hold no more. A lifelong love of books starts early, usually with the pride of ownership. “These are mine!” one youngster was overheard to exclaim, carrying a backpack that was almost as big as she was.

Children could also get their faces painted, their caricatures drawn, and request balloon animals or the helium-filled kind, red or white with the Target bull’s eye logo all over them. Some of these could be observed escaping a small hand accidentally and becoming airborne. Others popped unceremoniously, accompanied by startled looks and a realization of cause and effect (using a balloon for a chair is not such a good idea).

Walking amid the young readers were Tino the Traveling Turtle and The Mad Hatter who juggled three bowling pins for anyone who’d stop and stare for a few moments. Live characters from between the pages encourage children to “look them up” so to speak, by opening a book.



Refreshments were provided free of charge by Dog Daze (hot dogs, chips, bottles of water) and Snowie (shaved ice in a cup). Flavorings were added by stepping over to a large, multi-sided dispenser and choosing one (or several) toppings. Your humble correspondent chose a flavor trio of banana, wild cherry and the fierce sounding tiger’s blood (watermelon-strawberry) for an icy, blended taste treat.

The main stage featured an endless parade of stories and music, with Phantom stars Brent Barrett and Kristi Holden, Michael Goudeau of “Lance Burton, Master Magician”, and Channel 3 weatherman Kevin Janison reading passages from their favorite books.





Janison also wrote his book, Deputy Dorkface, about a town that is not allowed to bathe. While that premise was a hit with many of the kids in the audience, the sentiment was not shared by their parents. Janison engaged the audience with his broadcaster’s voice and sense of mischief, handing out Deputy Dorkface sticker badges and asking the crowd if they could think of one profession that didn’t require reading. No one could, but Janison admitted that rodeo barrel-racing once stumped him.

Musical entertainment was provided by the United States Air Force Band of the Golden West (wind instruments) and Viva Mexico, a children’s band comprised of guitars, violins, trumpets and a large bass fiddle.



Local authors Carla Masterson (What’s On the Other Side of the Rainbow?), Sandy Hogan (Reginald and Elizabeth, Lions of Moremi) and Eric Blanc (The Success of Robert Fitzgibbons) manned their booths ready to tell a story or sign a book quicker than you could say “Once upon a time.” Masterson’s book offers a much-needed reassurance to children about feelings, manners and self-esteem. There’s a surprise on the very last page.

Literacy enrichment events like this are especially important to our state. In 2005 Nevada’s youth ranked 43rd nationally in reading and the average Nevada 4th grader reads below the basic level. Making reading fun through efforts such as this make everyone a winner.

The Target Children’s Book Festival is a program of the Vegas Valley Book Festival, which is presented by Nevada Humanities and the City of Las Vegas.


For more information:
http://www.vegasvalleybookfest.org/
http://www.artslasvegas.org/

 

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