Happy birthday to reading’s cool cat

Officer Erin Ellerman reads to three dozen preschoolers at the Perry Memorial Librayr.
Erin Ellerman dangled the perfect bait to hook 35 preschoolers thirsting for knowledge, fun and a few catchy rhymes.

The rookie police officer, one of Henderson’s finest for two months, was in the perfect outfit to keep 70 eyes transfixed as they sat in a room in H. Leslie Perry Memorial Library about 9:30 this morning: blue uniform, handgun hanging by her right hip, red-and-white-striped hat atop her head.

Claire Basney introduces Officer Erin Ellerman to the children.
She cleared her throat, fighting off a cold, and unleashed the weapon in her hands, one the Carver School kids couldn’t ignore: “McElligot’s Pool” by Dr. Seuss.

For 10 minutes, the pre-kindergarten crowd hung on every word of a story that teaches the value of patience and the world’s possibilities, concluding: “I think that I’m not such a fool when I sit here and fish in McElligot’s Pool.”

“The end,” several of the children shouted out.

But it was barely the beginning of the Perry Library’s Seuss-a-Thon, part of a daylong celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday for the eighth-annual Read Across America Day.

It's a Seussical celebration.
Ellerman was the second of 13 readers scheduled to read to as many as 200 children, from toddlers to teenagers, during the six-hour Seuss-a-Thon. Claire Basney, the head of youth services at the library, said it’s the third year for Henderson’s Seuss-a-Thon, which grows every year.

City Council member Lonnie Davis kicked off the reading marathon, and storyteller Patricia Washburn followed Ellerman. Among the others due to read were Fire Chief Danny Wilkerson, park ranger Kecia Perkinson, clown Royall Harris, Basney, and three children ages 6 to 9, Anthony Vaughn and Roan and Chloe Blanchard.

Basney said the library festivities were meant to build excitement for this evening’s birthday bash in honor of the children’s author at E.M. Rollins Elementary School. There will be birthday cake, projects, books to read and books to buy, plus an appearance by the Cat in the Hat.

Registration for the free party starts at 5:30 p.m. The activities run from 6 to 8.

Officer Ellerman lays down the law of the fishing hole.
The Carver children got a good feel for the interactive fun of reading. Catching the theme, one boy shouted out that he liked to fish, sparking a long discussion about what kinds of fish the children would like to catch: “a little fish,” “a big fish,” “a whale,” “a seal,” “a shark,” “an alligator,” “a crocodile,” “a manatee,” “a dolphin” and even “a goldfish.”

Ellerman acknowledged that she was volunteered for the Seuss-a-thon session and that the only Seuss book she could remember reading was “Green Eggs and Ham,” but she was all smiles after her 15 minutes of Seussical library fame.

You’re never too old, too tired or blue to share the pure joy that Seuss brings to you.