The Missouri River Regional Library launched its Summer Reading Program on Saturday with events at its branches in Linn and in Jefferson City.
The Libraries Rock summer reading adventure kickoff concerts featured children's entertainer Babaloo, who gets audiences involved in the entertainment through songs, dances, games and other participatory activities.
Parents and their children gathered Saturday afternoon in the main branch's art gallery, where the entertainer sang songs, such as "Throw it Out the Window," "Don't Go Down the Slide Naked" and "Teacher Might be Human." He even performed an AC/DC cover of "Hokey Pokey."
"I'm not a genius; I just play and sing," Babaloo sang. "I've been around some and I've learned a few things.
"Don't go down the slide naked."
And the children lapped it up.
They giggled and bounced as he created a repetitive loop, making a hip-hop song out of recordings of his voice saying, "Orange balloon, green balloon, blue balloon, yellow balloon. Yeah." And as it did, children in the room attempted to keep massive balloons from hitting the floor.
MRRL Children's Program Lead Eric Lyon took full responsibility for the noise and silliness.
"The program is a continuous thing in the summer," Lyon said. "Every summer, we try to get a variety of performers."
MRRL hosts one performance every month he said. They may be comedians or other artists.
Oh My Gosh Josh is scheduled for June. Josh twists balloons, tells jokes, does magic and juggles.
Sammy J Balloons is the July performer, Lyon said.
With rainy weather, Lyon said he was thrilled so many visitors came out to interact with Babaloo.
"I see quite a few new faces in there today, which is what we want to see," he said. "We want to make it as dynamic as we can."
Babaloo got the children dancing. He had them play ing plastic 5-gallon buckets as drums. He turned on a bubble machine and produced thousands of bubbles for them to pop.
There's a big "bump-up" in programming during the summer, Lyon said. With schools out on break, the library gets to see many more children older than preschool age.
"We have a 'block party' every month, where they come in here and build Legos," he said. "The third Friday of every month is Family Movie Night."
The MRRL on Friday night aired "Ferdinand." Next month, the movie is "Peter Rabbit."
As Lyons talked, Babaloo continued to conduct a symphony of chaos.
He sang, "If you're happy and you know it," and made a silly face.
A child yelled, "That's inappropriate!"
Babaloo asked if the children would like to hear a gong.
"This gong is so loud, there's a law against playing it in the library," he said.
Babaloo brought 7-year-old Soren Stapp, of Jefferson City, to the microphone and had Soren play the gong using a variety of silly items, including a foam finger Babaloo complained was too soft as he struck the top of Soren's head with it.
He handed Soren a doll and let him hit the gong with it. It made some noise, and Babaloo encouraged Soren to hit the gong harder and harder until the doll's head flew off.
Soren's mother said afterward that he is an avid reader of graphic novels and of books. Right now, he's working through the "13-Story Treehouse" series, she said.
After the concert, Soren gave his review of the afternoon.
"It has been really fun," he said. "When he sang 'Throw it Out the Window,' it was really funny.
"I laughed when the baby doll's head fell off."