Little Friends
Library ‘Magic’ program beings fun, camaraderie
by Joseph Passantino
Reporter staff writer
Aug 11, 2013 | 5676 views | 0 0 comments | 163 163 recommendations | email to a friend | print
INTERACTIVE – Cynthia Mazzant of Tempest Productions gets the children involved in the story.
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The Secaucus Public Library's Children's Department presented “The Magic Hat,” an interactive story time, on Aug. 7. Parents said that the opportunity for their children to socialize was paramount.

Asanka Wijesinghe, there with her 2-year-old daughter Aanya, said she takes her only child to library programs not only for the reading and singing – which she loves a lot – but also for the socialization opportunities they provide.

“I usually take her to any program here,” Wijesinghe said. “It’s great for her. She socializes. She learns about sharing.”

Hania Elissa of the Harmon Cove Towers said the same thing about bringing her 5-year-old son, Nicholas. Coming is about “seeing their friends,” she said.

Harriet Cashnelli, with 2-year-old Mackenzie, and Denise Otlowski, with 3-year-old twins Eric and Evan, went one step better, saying the library programs actually forged their children’s friendship. Otlowski said the three kids met when just babies at a library event, and the comradeship has continued.

“We love coming here,” the North End resident said. “They love socializing with their buddy. She [Mackenzie] was their first real friend.”
“It’s great for her. She socializes. She learns about sharing.” – Asanka Wijesinghe
Wednesday’s program was packed, with more than 50 children attending. It focused on Mem Fox's popular picture book The Magic Hat, which tells the tale of people who are transformed into various animals by a wizard's hat as it blows into and through their town. When the Tempest Production Players recreated the tale at the library, the children become an integral part of the story by singing, dancing, whistling, and humming along.

Children's Department Supervisor Ceil Mucciolo said that the Tempest Production's Storybook Theatre program brings professional actors from the Hudson County-based, not-for-profit theater company into libraries and schools with the purpose of bringing familiar books and stories to life.

Youth Services librarian Lanora Mucciolo said that the Tempest Production Players recently performed Alice in Wonderland's Journey through a Storybook at the library's 10-year anniversary celebration.

That performance and The Magic Hat are part of a trio of interactive story time programs to be performed at the library this year. The third event, focusing on Maurice Sendak's classic work “Where the Wild Things Are,” is scheduled for Nov. 16.

All three of these programs are made possible by funding from the New Jersey Council of the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts, administered by the Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, County Executive Thomas A. DeGise, and the Board of Freeholders.

For more information about the series, contact the Children's Department at (201) 330-2085 or email Melillo at

Joseph Passantino may be reached at

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