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'Make a Splash...Read' - 2010 Summer Reading Club underway

Photo by Rebecca Long

Photo by Rebecca Long

The series of summer programs offered by the Jackson-Butts County Public Library, to entertain children of all ages, kicked off earlier this month with a program by Master Puppeteer David Stephens. He took the classic characters of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Bear and their cohorts, and created some new adventures for them.

Two Masonic lodges in Butts County helped provide funds for the summer programs.

At the series kickoff, June 1, St. John's Masonic Lodge Number 45 in Jackson, and Ancient York Masonic Lodge Number 127 in Worthville, presented Libby Spence, who coordinates children's programs at the library, a check for $1,300 to help finance the summer programs. Wayne Dooley represented St. John's Lodge, which raised $1,000 for the programs, and Charles Holloway and Les Faulkner represented the Ancient York Lodge. After presenting the check, they remained to enjoy the first program of the summer.

The program, which was held in the Exchange Club Building at the Fairgrounds, was attended by about 130 children and 35 adults who came to enjoy the performance by Stephens, founder of All Hands Productions, which provides touring performances with puppets nationally. Stephens' interest in puppets was sparked as a youth by Jim Henson's Muppets, and eventually he worked as a puppeteer on "Sesame Street," and in 2008 and 2009 as a featured puppeteer in Jim Henson's "Emmet Otter," co-produced by Goodspeed Musicals and the Jim Henson Company.

At the end of his program in Jackson, Stephens explained to his audience that he had used moving-mouth hand puppets with strings to help keep their hands in motion while they were talking, and simple and complex rod puppets. Stephens explained how he makes all the puppets used in the show, and pointed out how he had used plastic grapes for the eyes of one character.

The stories during the 40-minute show for the children in the audience moved along quickly: Brer Rabbit learned a lesson in "Brer Rabbit and the Fly," Brer Bear was tricked by Brer Fox in "Brer Bear and the Beehive," Brer Rabbit displayed his ingenuity in "Brer Rabbit Goes Fishing," and Brer Rabbit gave the banjo a try in "Brer Rabbit Tries to Sing."

Stephens' program in Jackson was sponsored by Loftin's Learning Center.

The next Summer Reading Club program will be held June 22 at 10 a.m. Children can sign up for the Summer Reading Club at the library. Children up to 11 years old will earn prizes by keeping track of how much time they spend reading in increments of 15 minutes. Young people ages 11 and up can earn prizes by keeping up with the books they read this summer.

11-and-up club combines science, art, fun

The 2010 Summer Reading Club series for those ages 11 and up launched on the evening of Tuesday, June 1, with a program by Jennie Brown of the Butts County Extension Office and Butts County 4-H. With this year's theme of "Make a Splash ... Read," Brown talked about Georgia's barrier islands, their characteristics, and their ecological significance.

The barrier islands are Jekyll, Tybee, St. Simons, Little St. Simons, Wassaw, Cumberland, Skidaway and Sapelo. To bring the coast closer to Butts County, Brown brought a special sand mixture to use for building some lasting sand castles.

Those in attendance were given a bag of sand, a piece of cardboard on which to work, and an assortment of molds and shells with which to create their own castles. The recipe for the sand was two parts play sand -- such as sand that would be purchased for a child's sandbox -- one part corn starch, and one part water, heated until the water is absorbed. The result is a pliable mixture which hardens after it has been shaped until it reaches a concrete-like texture after about two days.

Hands quickly went to work creating a wide range of architectural variations on the sand castle and its amenities.

"Everybody loves to play with sand," said Brown. "This is a great rainy-day activity."

She drew on plans she has for a 4-H Conference at Jekyll Island later this summer for the Summer Reading program.

The next Summer Reading activity for older youths will be June 22 at 6 p.m. The programs for older youths include drawings each week for a prize for one girl and one boy attending.