"Mr." Steve's Storytime
at Vroman's Bookstore
"Good morning, and welcome to Storytime."
They call me "Mr." Steve, and I've been the Storytime Reader at Vroman's Bookstore (in Pasadena, CA) since about 1992.
I was a film student when I was hired, with no experience with children's books beyond what I had read as a kid.
A little over a year later, they hired a young woman to take charge of the Children's Department. She had a long list of credentials: teacher, actress, reading therapist, etc.
She was the first (and only) professional children's storyteller I had observed prior to inheriting her job when she left the company.
My mom also influenced my story telling style. She used to incorporate different voices and sound effects when she would read to read to me and brother.
I also borrowed heavily from the "Electric Company" (the PBS companion to "Sesame Street," which ran in the '70s), and their "reading can be fun" attitude.
I've seen the same kids come back week after week--sometimes for years--until they outgrow me, or they have to start school.
Since the parents are the ones who have to get up early on Saturday mornings, rustle the kids, and drive them over to Vroman's, I try to pick books that will appeal to kids AND the adults who cared enough to bring them to Storytime.
About once a month, we have a "special guest" after Storytime.
Below are some photos of a few of the "guests" that have visited Vroman's Bookstore over the years.
Peter Rabbit (yep, that's me in there.)
The Peter Rabbit suit is terrific, and allows for more movement than most costumes.
I'm able to hunker down here, but I'm over 7 feet tall in that thing.
Why is this kid in shock?
I mean, it's only a hug from a seven-foot-tall rabbit!
Curious George always gets asked, "Where's the Man in the Yellow Hat?"We characters are never supposed to talk, so I'd just pantomime something: usually a shrug, and/or blow a kiss.
(I learned from "the greats" at Disneyland.)
I still have that picture this little girl drew for Curious George (somewhere).
That's not a doll on my lap; it's a girl with the Arthur mask she just colored. She did a great job.
We both look just like Arthur.
As Arthur's popularity grew, so did the number of fans that came to see him!
Here's another favorite who benefited from TV exposure: Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Ever see kids cry when they get up close to Santa Claus or The Easter Bunny at photo ops?
When I got a look at the Miss Spider costume, I thought that even the bravest kids were going to lose it.
Miss Spider looks like she should be fighting the Power Rangers!
So I made it a point to warn the kids and the parents several times before we brought her out: "She looks scary, but she's nice."
Then I went away for a few minutes, and came out dressed like this:
No tears. We all had an awesome time.
That's me again, as "The Bear" from"We're Going On a Bear Hunt."
Unlike a lot of costumes that don't "talk," this one has a lever in the hand that allows the wearer to move the mouth.
Oddly enough, The Bear never speaks in the book.
Recognize The Shadow? At least you can see part of my face in this costume.
This little girl's mom is the one who started calling me "Mr." Steve.
(That is a TOY gun I'm holding; and strictly for "character authenticity.")
These are just a few of the characters who have visited Vroman's Bookstore.
Others (not pictured) include The Cat In the Hat, The Berenstain Bears, Spot, Angelina Ballerina, Garfield, and Winnie the Pooh.
Storytime is lots of fun, with or without a celebrity guest.
Stories happen every Wednesday and Saturday from 10:00AM, until the kids get fidgety (which usually takes about an hour). Then everyone lines up at the air tank, where I start handing out free balloons...
(I wish the rest of my job was this much fun.)
Until the next (Story)time,