Children's author John Archambault believes that childhood imagination is being threatened by the technology around us.
“Kids don't know what's alive within them. Everything's so explicit and handed to them in terms of images per second. So I think there's something to be said for slowing life down and a shared moment,” Archambault said in a phone interview from his home in Yorba Linda, Calif.
Archambault this weekend will make his second appearance at the Storybook Land Festival. The author also appeared at the Aberdeen event in 2007.
Archambault has authored and co-authored more than 20 books. But he also spends quite a bit of time traveling around the country talking to people about reading. He travels more than 100 days a year.
“My message is really extolling the power of the imagination and the magic of reading,” Archambault said.
Archambault said there's something “powerful and irreplaceable” about turning off the TV, sitting on a couch and sharing a book or a story. “You sort of step out of time in a way,” he said.
Research shows the brain becomes addicted to the fast-paced images of a video game. In addition, the TV is always “barking” in most American homes, he said. You can't “access that still, quiet place alive with them unless you turn off the TV.”
Archambault believes that music supports language. While he uses a keyboard at home to compose, during his live appearances, he uses backing tracks “kind of a la karaoke style.”
During his live show, he also reads from very large books. He developed those books, which allow shared reading, with Childcraft Education Corp. The books incorporate musical CDs with read-along and sing-along styles to help young people get into reading.
Archambault was a big hit in his prior Storybook Land Festival appearance. Audiences were taken with his “personable” attitude, said Stacy Braun of the Aberdeen Area Arts Council, one of the sponsors of Storybook Land Festival.
“I'm happy to be invited back,” Archambault said. “Actually, I've done a lot of work over the years in South Dakota.”
His visits have included Pierre and Miller. Archambault enjoys visiting places like South Dakota and Minnesota, because the schools are good and because the family environment is strong.
Archambault is best known for his book “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” which he wrote and dedicated to his son, Arie Alexander Archambault. His son is now 25. Archambault’s books have appeared as featured selections on the PBS shows “Reading Rainbow” and “Storytime.”
The author grew up in Sierra Madre, Calif. Except for four or five years in New York, he's spent his life in California.
On Friday and Saturday, Archambault will take part in a course called “Exploring Literacy.” The Storybook Land Festival partnered with Northern State University on the course.
For the public, Archambault will perform at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Archambault’s participation in the Storybook Land Festival is very appropriate, since it's a literature-based event.
Musical entertainer David Chicken and Mr. Twister are among the other attractions at the eighth annual festival, which runs Friday and Saturday at Storybook Land.
Mr. Twister, who's based in Sioux Falls, will be a special guest at the 10 a.m. Friday “Fables and Fairy Tales” at the castle.
Familiar faces, food Friday
Friday's schedule includes two other activities.
Youngsters can have their photos taken with a host of costumed characters beginning at 6:30 p.m. Those characters include Daniel Tiger from the PBS show “Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood” and Max from the Nick Jr. series “Max and Ruby,” as well as Froggy, Llama Llama and Skippyjon Jones.
Penny and Pals will invite families to wiggle, giggle and sing beginning at 7 p.m. Friday. Penny and Pals also appeared at the festival in 2009. Penny is actually Penny Andrist from Fargo, N.D. The show will be followed by a free watermelon feed.
On Saturday, activities run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday packed with music, activities
Musical entertainment will be provided at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday by David Chicken, whose real name is David McMahon. A graduate of the University of North Texas, he has three CDs and two DVDs under his belt, “filled with super-catchy original music and characters that kids and parents love,” according to his website.
Chicken has won three Emmy Awards through the Lone Star Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. His song and video, “Book a Trip,” which promotes reading, recently won a first place award in the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors.
Storybook Land Theatre will present its production of “The Great Crabcrangrapegranate Gambit” at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Fun options for children include face painting, inflatables, games, arts and crafts and costumed characters. People are invited to bring a book to trade at a book swap.
Storytelling, balloons and ice cream
Kathleen West will present storytelling sessions at 10 and 11 a.m., noon and 1, 2 and 3 p.m. West is a retired elementary teacher and principal from Yankton.
Mr. Twister will do four hours of balloon twisting Saturday. This is Mr. Twister's third appearance at the Storybook Land Festival.
An ice cream social begins at 4:30 p.m.
Event to fill castle, tents
For the last four years, the Storybook Land Festival has drawn more than 5,000 people over its two-day schedule. In its first four years, the festival was one-day event.
This year’s event has a budget of $18,000 to $20,000, Braun said.
In addition to the Castle, activities will take place in four tents.
Besides the Aberdeen Area Arts Council, the festival is sponsored by the Aberdeen Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, the Alexander Mitchell Public Library, the NSU Children's Center and the Sertoma Club.
Storybook Land Festival schedule
What: Literature-based family festival
Where: Storybook Land at Wylie Park.
Friday: 10 a.m., “Fables and Fairy Tales” with special guest Mr. Twister; 6:30 p.m., photos with Daniel Tiger, Froggy, Llama Llama, Skippyjon Jones and Max of “Max and Ruby,” 7 p.m., Penny and Pals, followed by a free watermelon feed.
Saturday: Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Musical entertainment by David Chicken at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Appearances by author John Archambault at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Storybook Land Theater performance at 1:30 p.m. Mr. Twister will do four hours of balloon twisting. Kathleen West will present storytelling sessions at 10 and 11 a.m., noon and 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Includes costumed characters, inflatables, face painting, a book swap, hands-on arts and crafts, games and activities. Ice cream social at 4:30 p.m.
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