BY JAMES FARRELL
The Whitestone Library’s children librarian, Susan Scatena, would do anything to get kids to read—even morph into a butterfly.
And that’s exactly what Scatena did last week.
Since 2001, Scatena has spent every summer challenging the children of Whitestone to read. For each book they read, they get a chip. They put that chip into a jar. And at the end of the summer, if they reach the combined goal of 3,000 books, Scatena puts on a wild performance for the kids. Over the years, she’s sat in Jell-O with purple hair, she’s sat in spaghetti, she’s hugged a 14-foot Burmese Python, she’s read a story to a live alligator, kissed a frog and dressed like a banana.
“Every year, we try to top the previous year,” Scatena told the Queens Tribune. “Last year I ate green eggs and ham, which was very interesting.”
This year’s event, titled “The Very Hungry Caterpillar Comes To Whitestone,” featured a performance, in which Scatena acts out the scenes of Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and uses an elaborate costume to turn from a caterpillar into a butterfly. It was a reward for the children of Whitestone, who read a combined total of 4,088 books this past summer.
“The kids really like it,” she said. “They say, ‘are you really going to turn into a butterfly? How are you going to do this?’”
To pull off the stunt, two volunteers at the library who used to be involved in theater put together an elaborate costume, complete with a mask and cape.
The event drew at least a hundred kids, who sat in the library’s outdoor garden to watch the metamorphosis.
Scatena said that she started the event after telling a friend that she would do anything to get kids to read, even if it meant sitting in Jell-O.
“They said, ‘why don’t you do it?’”
And so she did. And she’s tried to top it every year since.
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @farrellj329.