MOULTRIE -- What's black and white and read all over?

Vacation Reading Fun 2004 at the Moultrie-Colquitt County Library, the Doerun Public Library and the Colquitt County Bookmobile cranks up this week with the theme Step to the Beat -- Read!

Every year, the reading program has mascots. This year, it's penguins. And not just any ordinary penguins. The library is using an Elvis penguin, a poodle-skirt penguin, a rumba line penguin and a country line dance penguin.

The first and most important part is a goodie bag with a reading log, a bookmark and a special sticker to kick-start the summer reading program.

Families are especially invited, but anyone can sign up, McKellar said.

Sign-ups started on the bookmobile Thursday and at the Moultrie library Tuesday. Doerun begins sign-up today.

Thursday mornings are story hours from 10 to 11 a.m. at the main branch, which attracts lots of preschoolers, children's librarian Norma McKellar said, but the librarians have geared their storytelling to appeal to all ages. Children will explore the captivating ways of penguins through reading, dramatics, singing, dancing, crafts and art.

"We're going to make penguins out of Oreo cookies. And we can eat our mistakes," McKellar said happily.

Scheduled at the main library from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays are some pretty amazing programs. These programs cost the library from $150 to $500, but they're provided free to the public.

"The idea people can come and see these types of programs at no cost is pretty cool," McKellar said.

One night the Curious Moon Puppet Theatre, two professional Atlanta puppeteers Evy Wright and Reay Kaplan will perform. Wright performed as a resident puppeteer at Atlanta's Center For Puppetry Arts, and her work can be seen on the CD-Rom version of "Dinotopia" as well as the feature film "Muppets From Space." In addition, she is a member of the prestigious Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit in Atlanta, the theatre's Web site said.

Kaplan received her master of arts in puppetry from The University of Connecticut, and since then, has puppeteered for Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Nickelodeon Studios. She is a regular performer at Atlanta's Center for Puppetry Arts and is currently on the board of directors for UNIMA-USA, the national chapter of puppetry's international organization, Union Nationale de la Marionette.

Art instructors Sally Shovar of Moultrie and Randy Taylor from the Atlanta Museum of Design received an arts grant to work with children during the summer program to liberate the artist within.

"She lets them be very creative. It's an unusual story time at a public library in that it usually turns out to be loud, but the kids walk out with great creations," McKellar said.

On a return visit to Moultrie is the popular husband-and-wife musical and storytelling duo One Heart. Country and folk musicians Sam and Sallie Worley of metro Atlanta have performed during the program for five summers, McKellar said.

"They are great. We usually have over 100 children to come to that program," she said.

One night, children can whoop it up at the Kids' Karaoke and Sock Hop. It's the perfect chance to whirl a poodle skirt or slick back hair with Brylcreme or cock a black beret and say stuff like "Cool Daddy-o." So don't be a square and skip it.

Comic and educational juggler Ron Anglin is set to not only amuse and delight but maybe pass on a few tricks to participants as well.

A juggler since childhood, as well as a seasoned teacher and coach, Anglin uses all kinds of props to teach a variety of subjects, his Web site said. He is also an instructor for Cirque du Monde, a project of Cirque du Soleil, which brings the circus arts to young people on the street and in treatment centers.

Professional musician Sean Driscoll will perform music that McKellar described as magical. Last year, he brought an instrument that sounded like whales, she said.

Driscoll performs regularly throughout the Eastern U.S. in radio, television, schools, concert and festival settings. He was selected for artist in residency programs in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina (1990-present), for the Georgia Council for the Arts selected Touring Roster (1992-1996) and for Young Audiences (1999 to present), his Web site said.

There is no charge to participants for any of the activities. The programs and material, which are free to the public as well, are paid for and supplied by the library board, the Georgia Public Library Services, the Museum and Library Services for the Citizens of Georgia, the Waffle House and David Adams and the Georgia Council for the Arts.

For a schedule of events and more information, contact the main library at 985-6540 and the Doerun Library at 782-5507.

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