Woodland Community Library

Summer Reading Ice Cream Social

August 8, 2007 - 2 pm
Woodland Community Center (Next to the Library)

Photography by Noel Johnson - Click here for pictures.

Summer Magic - By Pat Nelson

August 8, 2007 - As I approached the Woodland Community Center Wednesday for the Woodland Community Library's final summer event, children hurried up the sidewalk and through the door to take a seat on the floor. Reaching the walkway, I noticed a bike lying in the grass, and could imagine the youngster who had quickly tossed it aside to run inside, filled with excitement, to watch the magic show.

About sixty children and twenty adults packed the Community Center to watch comedian-magician Louie Foxx present his fast-paced show, "Reading is Magic."

Librarian Abbie Anderson sat cross-legged on the floor with the children. She's been at the Woodland Library less than a year, but looked right at home. It was her idea to bring Foxx and his show to town. She presented the idea to Friends of the Library, and they decided to present the magic show in conjunction with their sixth-annual Ice Cream Social. "Friends of the Library," said Anderson, "is a stellar group of volunteer supporters who raise money and put their time and energy into events."

"Other summer events" Anderson said, "included Creature Feature with the reptile man and live reptiles, and BJ the Clown, who left the children in stitches."

By mid-summer, Anderson reported that 941 children had registered for the summer reading program. "Participants in the children's program range from preschool to age 12," she said. "Once they turn 12, the students participate in the teen program, where they are required to read more and do some writing."

While Friends of the Library volunteers prepared for the Ice Cream Social on the lawn, Louie Foxx presented his magic show. "I love reading," he said with enthusiasm to kick off his show.

Foxx's first volunteer from the audience was a boy named Tristan, who was asked to hold three handkerchiefs of different colors. "Blue stands for the word I, Foxx said; "yellow stands for the word love, and pink stands for the word reading. If we tie them all together, we'll have the sentence, 'I love reading'."

The ends of the wand Tristan waved above the scarves wouldn't stay in place, dangling freely. Laughter filled the room. Fox then showed the audience the handkerchiefs, tied together. "I love reading," he said, indicating the sentence made by tying together the three handkerchiefs that each represented a word. Before the trick was over, Foxx had one more surprise: he turned the three handkerchiefs into one tri-colored handkerchief.

The next volunteer, a girl named Sierra, had just read the book "The Adventure Cat Goes to School." Foxx pointed out that any book you read makes you smarter. As he explained how books put sense in your head, he produced cents from Sierra's head, appearing to pull coin after coin from her hair, the top of her head, and behind her ears. She stood wide-eyed, with her mouth open in amazement.

Foxx said he fell in love with magic when, at age 5, he watched a magic show at West Woodland Elementary School in Seattle. He told his mother about the show, and she helped him find books on magic. Now, he is the author of five books and he sells the Amazing Kids Magic Kit. His magic shows for children have taken him across the United States, and into Canada.

He has performed professionally for eleven years, but has practiced magic for 24 years. After moving to Minnesota, he became a buster, a street performer. He would set up a table on the street in Minneapolis and perform magic tricks for tips, including his favorite, and one of the oldest magic tricks in the world, a trick using three cups. In performing the trick for his Woodland audience, he first turned three cups upside down. He placed a ball on each. Balls appeared and disappeared until at last you could have made a fresh-fruit salad with the oranges that turned up mysteriously under the cups and the melon that showed up under his black hat.

When he was seven, Foxx said, he was interested in cowboys and found the book "How to Trick Rope" by Clare Johnson, a book on the history of lassoing. Foxx used this opportunity to point out that books allow you to learn things you didn't know you were going to learn. When Foxx asked whether the first cowboys to spin a rope came from Mexico, Spain, or China, most in the audience voted Mexico. "Yes," Foxx said, the Mexican learned to spin a rope, but they learned from cowboys in Spain, and the cowboys in Spain learned from the cowboys in China. " He pointed out that he had learned this from a book.

Next, Foxx taught librarian Abbie Anderson to spin a lasso. The lesson started with a big Yee Haw. "When you try to learn," said Foxx, don't give up the first time. Never give up."

According to Foxx, the Guinness Book of World Records says the record for twisting a balloon behind your back to make it look like a poodle is 10.68 seconds. He tried it for the group. His first effort failed, but on his second attempt, he created the poodle in only six seconds. "It took two years to learn to do this," he said, "which I learned from reading; and I never gave up."

Once the magic show ended, kids hurried outside for the Ice Cream Social. Friends of the Library volunteers topped cups of ice cream with colorful sprinkles, gummy worms, chocolate syrup, berries, and whipped cream.

The lively chatter and laughter told me the kids were having a great time. One thing's for sure: the magic of ice cream socials and reading will never grow old.

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