By Allison Campbell-Jensen
Even the sun was kind on Aug. 26 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. The readers for the monthly StoryTime gathered on the terrace of the Snyder Building, which also houses the host, the Andersen Horticultural Library and its staff. The lush, late summer backdrop, just-right temperature, and bright blue skies appeared perfectly suited for readings from books about kindness and friendship.
Library Assistant Adrienne Alms began with “Too Many Carrots,” about a rabbit plagued with an overly abundant harvest and not enough room to store his carrots. After a kindly but misguided offer from tortoise and others, the rabbit ends up squirreling away his carrots in the home of the beaver. Then a flood arrives!
“Oh no, my house!” cried Beaver. “Oh no, my carrots!” cried Rabbit. As everyone and everything turns topsy-turvy, the creatures realize that carrots were not for collecting but for sharing.
Said one child in the audience: “That was funny!”
Reflecting the crowd
The mostly rapt listeners, numbering about 40, included more than one set of twins, children eager to sit close to Alms to listen, and a few who needed to be off the leash, as it were, to take in all the beauty. The infants in strollers apparently just allowed the voice of readers and chatter of the other children wash over them; parents and grandparents paid better attention.
When Andrea Linnes-Bagley and her two children, Averee and Miles, got up to take their turn reading, she asked the audience: “Who knows Eric Carle? He wrote ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar …’”
“I have ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar,’” called out one child, who owns the classic book by the recently deceased book creator, known for his bright collages.
She told the children that, as the pandemic began, she, her husband Jeff, and two children were inspired by Carle’s art to do their own artworks. Ultimately, the images they created of penguins, a dragon, crocodiles, and more led to a book, “Who is Your Friend?”
Averee, 8, and Miles, 5, took turns reading the book to the audience, as their mother turned the pages for all to see. It was the first time, Averee said, that she had read the book to people she didn’t know. Once she and Miles found their volume, all went smoothly. And once they read the book’s last lines, they were mobbed by their fans of peers.