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By Stephen Press
Hometown Weekly Staff
As the morning’s bright light streamed in through the windows of the Westwood Library, visitors were treated to a rare and unique sight: an audience full of toddlers, perfectly captivated and attentive. In front of them, Children’s Librarian Hannah Gavalis alternately read, sang and moved.
“This is Wondrous Wednesday Storytime,” said Gavalis. “It’s an all-ages story time. It’s drop-in, so you don’t need to register. We usually read between four and five books, and do some rhymes and songs between them to keep everyone engaged.”
And engaged they were. The transfixed audience of tots was eating it up. So, what was the Librarian’s secret?
“There is no secret,” Gavalis confessed, deflecting all the praise to her audience. “Some weeks, they’re better than others. Just depends on moods; who’s gotten a good night’s sleep and who needs a snack. We just do our best.”
This particular Wednesday, then, must have represented quite a perfect set of circumstances. The little ones in the gallery couldn’t help but angelically smile and take in every moment of the story time.
Who could blame them? Between picture books like “Chengdu Could Not, Would Not, Fall Asleep” and songs like “Pumpkin, Pumpkin” (which had the room jumping up with its final lyric line, “Pumpkin, Pumpkin on your feet”), one got the sense that the children were practically hypnotized with delight.
“We try to make it up twice a week here. She loves it,” confirmed Marie Papathanasiou, who brought her granddaughter, Anastasia. “She loves the books and the coloring. She wants to write.”
The only common theme on the day seemed to be the children’s enjoyment of the proceedings.
That and bears - all of the day’s books revolved around the animal.
“It’s one of my favorite themes, actually,” admitted Gavalis before lamenting: “I didn’t get to roar like a bear with any of these ones.” She laughed for a moment as she watched her audience filing out the door, some waving goodbye as they went. “There’s really nothing better than roaring like a bear early in the morning.”