A little holiday magic

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 16, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

At the ripe young age of four, Tyler Lewis hasn’t quite mastered the art of comprehending transcription.

&uot;When I’m five, I’ll know how to read,&uot; he said Saturday at the Morgan Memorial Library. &uot;I like being read to.&uot;

Email newsletter signup

The program that he and dozens of other local youngsters had just seen hopefully will encourage them to learn sooner.

On Wednesday morning, the Suffolk Public Library System presented the event &uot;A Little Holiday Magic&uot; for kids from the East End Baptist Church, Apple Tree Learning Center, Metropolitan Daycare, YMCA Daycare, and Vy’s Family Daycare. Magician/storyteller Mark Daniel taught children about the wonders of reading – with a little enchantment along the way.

&uot;Would you like to meet a new friend?&uot; he asked the kids. &uot;He’s very funny, sweet, and enthusiastic, but he doesn’t talk much.&uot; He put on some Christmas music, and took out a small snowman puppet, perhaps as a special way to get the youths interested in the book &uot;The Polar Express,&uot; which he’d mentioned earlier.

&uot;How many of you have a rabbit?&uot; he said. Several hands shot skyward.

&uot;I have one, and his name is Dino,&uot; he said. &uot;Since we travel so much, we get lots of holiday cards from people we know. He puts them all in here.&uot;

He brought out a binder, and started to flip through it, eventually coming to several blank pages.

&uot;What happened here?&uot; he wondered aloud. Suddenly, he came to a frightening answer; Dino had been flattened among the pages! Daniel let out an ear-shattering scream as the children cracked up.

&uot;This calls for an emergency situation, and I need a helper to get me out of this crisis,&uot; Daniel said.

Nashawn Holliman, 4, came up front.

&uot;I’m a bit of an inventor,&uot; Daniel said, bringing out a small box. &uot;This is something I bring with me.&uot; Daniel handed Nashawn a bicycle pump, and the two prepared to inflate Dino back to size. Daniel placed his pet, still in cardboard-paper form, in the front of the machine, and told Nashawn to pump three times.

The youngster did so, and Daniel reached to the back. It had worked; Dino had returned to his white furry form.

&uot;You were great!&uot; Daniel told his impromptu assistant. &uot;Would you like to pet him and shake his paw?&uot;

A message came through his headset, and Daniel stopped for a moment.

&uot;I’m getting a weather report,&uot; he said. &uot;It hasn’t rained yet, but it’s so cold that it’s going to snow. We’re about 45 seconds away from a snowstorm.&uot; He asked the children to raise their hands, and repeat after him.

&uot;I, your name, promise to have a great, fantastic, awesome, super holiday,&uot; he said. &uot;One way I can do that is to grab my mom and share a good book.&uot; It was time for the snowstorm.

Daniel picked up a glass of water, and shook it until it turned white. He reached into the water, and held a clenched fist up in front of a fan. Suddenly, gusts of snow blew out from his hand, showering the cheering children.

&uot;What a wonderful turnout!&uot; he said afterward. &uot;This is an art form, and it’s not for the timid! I love children’s books and children’s literature, and with an audience with this enthusiasm, how could you not want to come back?&uot;

He will; Daniel gives his second performance at 10 a.m. today at Morgan.