Hazel Park District Library unveils summer reading lineup

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published June 1, 2023


HAZEL PARK — A singer, magician and comic book artist will be among the guests at this year’s summer reading program in Hazel Park. There will also be exotic animals, drum circles, lessons on stop-motion animation, a truck showcase and more.

Participants will be eligible for prizes as well, leading up to the grand finale — a picnic party at Scout-McPherson Park.

The library, located at 123 E. Nine Mile Road, east of John R Road, announced the highlights in advance of registration, which opened June 5. The program then begins Tuesday, June 13.

“The kids, and their parents, get really excited,” said Corrine Stocker, the library director. “Usually, we open registration a week before the first program, just so we don’t have to sign up hundreds of kids all at once. Everyone is eager to sign up and save a spot.”

The overall theme for 2023 is “All Together Now,” celebrating friendship, kindness, and working together as a community.

“It’s fun, it’s free, and it’s right in the middle of the community. Many people can walk here,” Stocker said. “I’m thrilled for the programs we have lined up this year, for both the kids and teens.”


Special events
The events kick off Tuesday, June 13, with two sessions of “Drummunity,” a drum circle led by Lori Fithian, who will bring her collection of hand drums and other percussion instruments for everyone to play. The first session is at 1 p.m. that day, and the second is at 6:30 p.m.

“Patrons go nuts for ‘Drummunity,’” said librarian Amy Beem. “It’s going to be so much fun — the whole community, all playing together on their drums.”

On Tuesday, June 27, at 6:30 p.m., the library will be visited by “Dan the Creature Man,” known for his exotic animals. He will bring live specimens such as a tarantula, a tortoise, an alligator, a chinchilla, a giant African bullfrog, parrots, a panther chameleon and snakes. Most were adopted or rescued from local shelters, police departments and private citizens.

“These are not animals you see all the time, so it’s very interesting for kids and adults alike,” Beem said. “The handler is very good with the crowd and at keeping the animals safe.”

The same day, June 27, participants are invited to Scout-McPherson Park, 901 E. Otis Ave., for “Touch a Truck,” at 1 p.m., where guests can check out a fire truck, an ambulance, a police car, a dump truck and a bucket truck, and also enjoy crafts and stories.

“The truck program goes well with the theme of communities working together,” Beem said. “Police, fire, public works — they all work together to keep our city safe. It’s like thinking of our city as one big family.”

On Tuesday, July 11, at 6:30 p.m., the library will host “Beverly Meyer, the Music Lady,” performing her “All Together Now” show, which Beem described as an interactive musical experience.

“Beverly plays guitar and sings, and she’s doing songs about friendship and kindness to go along with the theme,” Beem said. “She pulls out instruments for the kids to play, and has them all hopping and dancing. She’s just full of energy, and we all love her.”

On Tuesday, July 25, at 1 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m., “The Amazing Flec” will juggle and perform gravity-defying feats in a comedy show where crystal balls whirl around his body and along his hands and limbs, as though by magic. He will also explain the secrets behind the tricks, and teach attendees how to juggle.

“He’s very kind, with a soothing presence and voice, and the kids are just mesmerized by his contact juggling and everything he does, and how he does it,” Beem said.

In addition, there are events geared toward teens and adults.

On Wednesday, June 21, the library will screen the documentary film, “Boblo Boats: A Detroit Ferry Tale,” starting at 6 p.m., followed by a question-and-answer session with an expert on the topic.

On Saturday, June 24, at 1 p.m., the library will hold a program on stop-motion animation — the kind of animation seen in films such as “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” where puppets are moved and filmed one pose at a time. Each participant will build their own stop-motion puppet and bring it to life using the technique. They will also receive a DVD video with a deep dive into the craft.

And on Saturday, July 15, at noon, comic book artist Jerry DeCaire will return to the library. DeCaire is known for his work at Marvel Comics, where he illustrated stories for series such as “Thor,” “X-Men,” “Wolverine,” “Punisher,” “Conan,” “Iron Man,” “Nick Fury,” and “The Phantom.” He will talk about his prolific career, and teach attendees about his approach to art.

“People are already getting excited for that one,” Beem said.


Prizes to be won
Upon signing up, kids receive a packet with the program flyer, a bingo sheet and reading log. For every three hours of reading logged, they receive a prize. There are four levels of prizes, with the prize value increasing at each level.

For example, at nine hours of reading, kids receive a free book, and at 12 hours, they are entered into the grand prize drawing, to be held Tuesday, July 25, where they can win a Kindle Fire, gift cards, Star Wars bobbleheads, Lego sets and Funko Pops.

There are also weekly prize drawings, where everyone who signed up is eligible. Prizes there include Beanie Babies, Barbie dolls, Pokémon items and fidget spinners.

Teens and adults can also win prizes, but in a different way. They receive a bingo card upon signing up, and for each bingo they complete, they receive a ticket. They can also earn tickets for attending programs and writing book reviews. The tickets will then be drawn at the picnic for one of the grand prizes.

Teens also get to choose a prize from the library’s display case when they complete their first bingo card and again when they complete three bingo cards. Adults, meanwhile, are enrolled in weekly prize drawings where a winner will be announced each Wednesday through the end of July.

The summer reading program then comes to a close on Friday, July 28, with the picnic party at Scout-McPherson Park.    

“I think there are two reasons I’m such a fan of summer reading,” Stocker said. “First one is that not only does it get kids reading during the summer, but it prevents ‘summer slide.’ Kids tend to lose the skills they learn in school if they don’t engage with reading over summer break.

“But also, when you add the programs and prizes, it really just makes reading so much fun for the kids,” she said. “It brings the whole community out to the library, and gets them all reading and doing things together.”