Messenger photo by Dianne Garrett
Educator and author Mimi Chenfeld, known as "The Queen of Fun," visits the Whitehall branch of Columbus Metropolitan Library June 27, engaging children of all ages with her fast-paced program of music, stories and dance. She is pictured imitating dinosaurs with little ones who were pretending to be very big and ferocious.

What do you get when you combine a room full of little kids, parents and “The Queen of Fun?”

A great time! The Whitehall branch of Columbus Metropolitan Library was reverberating with music, singing, giggles and big laughs when Mimi Chenfeld brought her arsenal of fun June 27.

The Berwick resident is an educator and author with a passion for teaching children.

Chenfeld encourages the youths and adults to take off their shoes and socks and be comfortable. She keeps the pace fast with lots of music, songs, story telling, dancing, and even has a rap version of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

She encouraged reading and movement to keep minds and bodies fit. Segments of the program were dedicated to silly books and books about spiders and dinosaurs. As music played everyone danced and bounced, freezing in place when she hit her tambourine, and said “shape.”

The children had great fun imitating big, ferocious dinosaurs as they pretended to chomp on trees and tromp around the room looking pretty scary.

Chenfeld had them act out a story about Wee Willie Winkie, teaching them all about what it meant to be a town crier. She explained that the town crier did not cry because he was sad, but that he let people know what time it was, reminding people to put the kids to bed and setting out the trash.

She ended her time with the little charges in a circle and a song about love. Some of the little ones just could not settle down for the circle, so they ran circles inside the circle to everyone’s amusement.

The song and Chenfeld reminded attendees, “Love comes one by one, two by two, four by four. Love grows round like a circle and comes back knocking at your front door.”

Chenfeld has published five reference books for teachers, as well as a couple of novels. In 1957 she wrote “The House at 12 Rose Street,” one of the first controversial novels in the country for children regarding race relations. It was published in 1960 and in came out in paperback in 1967.

She was amused recalling when screenwriters and producers started looking for her, thinking she was deceased. Actor Sidney Portier’s daughter had read the book, and passed it on to her dad. He kept passing it along until it became an after-school special in 1965 on ABC. It was nominated it for an Emmy.

Homework Help on its way

The Whitehall branch of Columbus Metropolitan Library will begin a new program in the fall for school children needing help with homework.

Coordinator George Morris explained that Homework Help Center (HHC) will open as soon as school starts in the fall.

“Children will be able to come to the library after school until about 6 p.m. to get help with math, science, history, or any class in which they are having some difficulty,” said Morris.

The large meeting room has been re-decorated in a cheerful motif, and there will be new furniture and laptop computers. Help will be available for students in kindergarten through grade 12, but will not serve as a latchkey program, Morris emphasized. This will be for students who really need help with their studies.

Morris noted that the library embraces learning in a safe place to help students get a good start on homework and research.

“Where better than a place full of resources?” she asked.

Children will be greeted with a smile from trained volunteers ready to help, that will go a little beyond parental help.

Four other locations have successful centers, and the Whitehall staff is excited about jumping on board. Children only have to show up and sign in Monday through Thursday.

Volunteers are needed. They will receive a short training session, based on volunteer expertise. Morris hopes that people who enjoy working with children with varied backgrounds in many subjects, as well as any foreign languages, will apply to volunteer. Interested parties may call 645-2ASK to obtain more information or an application. A grand opening of HHC September 10 at 5:30 p.m.

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