Friday, September 17, 2010

The Target Children's Book Festival

Last Sunday a flier from Target was in my news paper.  Not the sales flier but a one page sheet of odd size.  We have learned any time we get a flier like this it is in our best interest to check out the event.  Target really goes all out anytime they sponsor a community event.

This one said "Get Bookin' for Free Fun."  Sounds right up our alley - books and Free!!

I scanned Children's Stage Lineup only to find the first act was Heidi's favorite band, The Okee Dokee Brothers. That's it. Sold.  We will be there.

Saturday came around and we headed out to Hyland Lake Park Reserve in Bloomington.  We knew it would be a big event when we noticed shuttles from the parking ramps on the edge of the Park.  We pulled into the ramp and hopped a shuttle.

Even though there was still parking at the lot when the bus dropped us off, I am glad we took the shuttle.  We were not sure exactly where we were going and there were a lot of cars around.  At the end of the day it would have been a zoo trying to get out of there!

The Festival was held in the open space just behind the Chutes and Ladders park.  I didn't realize how huge that park is!  It is right on the lake and it seemed to go on forever.

We arrived just as the band was being introduced so we grabbed a seat as quickly as we could.

Heidi knew The Okee Dokee Brothers from when she saw them at the Minneapolis Public Library this spring.  They also had been on the Kare11 morning show a few months back and of course we have YouTubed them!

The one with the banjo is Justin and the other is Joe.  They sing bluegrass style music for kids.  My favorites were Bluegrass For Breakfast and the Roller coaster song.

Shawn and Heidi loved the Household Chores song and happily danced along.

Next up was Mallory Lewis and Lamb Chop.  I never was a Sherry Lewis fan, I just am not into ventriloquism.

 She made me a bit uncomfortable and she was very awkward.  She talked a lot about how we should love her because we loved her mom and she is doing this for her mom but it felt fake.  They way talked to the sound guys really felt like she could rip someones head off very quickly.

She brought Hush Puppy up on stage for the first time since Sherry had passed.  This was the first performance Hush Puppy has made in over 12 years so that was kind of cool.  But then she invited all the kids on stage to sing a song and when it was over she grab a girl and said to the crowd "whoever this one belongs to, I need a curly redhead to take over for me when I am gone so I would like to hook her up with my 12 year old son."  I was supposed to be funny but the girl was about 6 years old and looked mortified.  I was in shock and didn't get a picture.  After that I was glad her time was up.

The next act was Bob Doyle but Bob couldn't make it so he mean twin brother came in his place.  He had a crazy mustache and read a book called "The Fun of Math."  Heidi was really excited, she LOVES math!

But he tricked us!  It really was Bob, he was just wearing a fake mustache!!  Bob writes and draws Wow Wow Wubbzy books and the show for Nick Jr.  He read from his new book Hugo and the Really, Really, Really Long String and then he drew a picture of Wow Wow Wubbzy.

He also had the kids shout out four or five random animals and drew them as one animal.  So a bunny plus an alligator plus a bear would be a bunny-alligator-bear.  It was pretty cool.

Next up was Peter Brown, author of Children Make Terrible Pets.  This book was about a bear who found a child and brought it home to be his pet.  Very cute book!  And he did a great job reading it.  After his story he drew a picture of the child in the book.  They really make it look so easy!

An absolute highlight of the day was Choo-Choo Soul from Playhouse Disney.  Genevieve was a riot and related to the children as well as the adults cracking jokes about being paid to wear polyester.

And DC!  That boy can dance.  During the Freeze Dance Song, Genevieve had DC standing on his head for a long time.  He was the best Beat boxer I have ever heard and he could break dance like its going out of style! 

When they were done, I wanted to be Genevieve's best friend.  I wanted her to hang out in my living room and make me laugh while DC danced for us.

They sure got the kids moving.  Heidi was showing off her favorite dance and Gevenieve complemented her on it Twice!  Totally made my day.  I mean her day.  It made her day.

Marianne Richmond, author and illustrator of If I Could Keep You Little followed Choo-Choo Soul. 

Her illustration demo was to paint a picture of someone in the crowd and then let them take it home.  It was pretty cool.  The kids were yelling out things to add to the background and one kid really wanted it to be raining.  After he said "add some rain!!" for the seventh time, she said "It's! Not! Raining!"  Cracked me up!

I did not hear her story because I ran off to see what else was going on in the park.  A little scouting before we all headed out.  They had crafts and bounce houses and food!  That will have to be another post all together!

After we had some lunch and played a bit we headed back to the stage to see what was up. 

Caitlin Sanchez, voice of Dora the Explorer was just starting her reading.  After, Heidi said, "it was like Dora was really reading to me!"

I just wish someone would have told her to show the pictures to the kids in the front.  She never turned the book around.  Oh, well. She is 14.

Can you believe it?!  She is 14 and has been doing the voice of Dora since 2007.

If you think watching Dora on TV is shrill, try being in front of an amphitheatre.  UGH!

Melodee Strong followed Dora.  She was a nice complement.  Much quieter and much less shrill.  She attended the Minneapolis Art College and the book she read was one she painted the pictures for when she was a student.  The words are from a song so after she read, they played the song.

The book is called You Are Strong and the song is called Colorful World.  It was a great lesson story.

I was so sure this guy was going to sell me something.  I thought, "oh, man.  That's why this was all free.  Here's the guy with the pitch..."

But I was wrong.  He a lot like an infomercial sales man but he really was Derek Anderson, illustrator of Hot Rod Hamster.  He read the book and then talked about how cool it is to be an illustrator and the pictures he hides in his books, like how one of the contestants in the race is really his dog.

He drew some pictures for the kids and made random comments about how bright the surface was.  Most of the acts were so funny.  They really knew how to keep the parents engaged.

The last act we saw before going back to the festival booths was a band called Ralph's World.  They were great!  They totally rocked out a bunch of original kids songs and their version of the ABC's which included a bunch of parents up on stage acting out letters.

All of the kids had a blast!  We went out there to see The Okee Dokee Brothers and maybe stay for a few other acts and ended up leaving after the last act.  In addition to the acts we saw, there were seven others we missed.  It was not possible to see all the acts and go to the booths as there wasn't a break on the stage.

We can't wait until next year to do it again!  And now that we know what it is, we will plan better and bring friends.

Lesson learned: Any time it's put on by Target, plan to spend the entire day there.

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