Area illusionist returns for summer reading program
Published 9:20 am Wednesday, June 17, 2015
For the last trick the magician was to perform for his audience upstairs at the Dowagiac District Library Tuesday morning, area entertainer John Dudley needed a little help from the superheroes sitting across from him.
With the rabbit he was going to make appear from his top hat appearing to have vanished, Dudley asked the nearly 30 children watching the show to all channel their super powers to make the small fuzzy animal return to the box he was keeping it in.
Unfortunately, there seemed to be a mishap with the trick, as the children instead summoned his crazy pet “raccoon,” Randy. The mechanical animal caused all sorts of mischief before the magician finally was able to get it back inside the box.
“Randy always makes the show,” remarked Alma Adams, the longtime children’s librarian.
The magician’s performance was the latest event held at the local library as part of this year’s superhero-themed summer reading program, which kicked off last week. Over 30 kids showed up to watch Dudley perform that morning, with many of them getting a chance to participate in his various tricks and illusions.
Dudley, a native of southwest Michigan and professional magician for over 40 years, is in high demand this time of year, specializing in performing for children and families at parties, gatherings and programs such as Tuesday’s show. He has performed regularly at the Dowagiac District Library and at other city events in the past, Adams said.
“It’s not a summer reading program without him,” Adams said. “He’s one of a kind.”
In fact, it was through reading that Dudley first became bitten with the magician’s bug, picking up a magic book in seventh grade in order to learn how to perform the tricks he saw one of his teachers perform, Dudley said.
“Reading is so important for kids,” he said. “It gives them the inspiration to try new things.”
The library is holding several events throughout the summer to get kids more involved with literature. In addition to outdoor craft days every Friday and storytimes with a special guest from the community every Tuesday, the library will be holding several special programs over the next few weeks, including a visit from some local wildlife at the Sarett Nature Center, at 1:30 p.m. on July 23.
Most importantly though, the library’s summer reading program rewards children with prizes for continuing to read over the long break from school, Adams said. Since kicking off, participation has been strong, and more kids have been checking out books from the children’s area, she said.
“It’s all about reading,” Adams said. “It’s about keeping kids’ reading skills up and having fun. I think they had a lot of fun today.”
Children or parents can sign up for the program by visiting the library, located downtown at 211 Commercial St., or calling (269) 782-3826.