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Wyatt's world of science kicks off kids' summer reading program By Loreth Beswetherick She writes about things like dirt, aliens and earthlings and she has been known to stand on her head to get her message across to her young audience. Award-winning children's author Valerie Wyatt may not stand on her head much these days but Whistler Public Library director Joan Richoz said something unusual is still to be expected from Wyatt's public appearances. "She really is a very dynamic speaker and she loves what she talks about. You can expect something pretty interesting." The Victoria-based writer of non-fiction books for kids is slated to visit the Whistler library on Wednesday, July 7 at 7 p.m. Her visit will kick off the library's 1999 summer reading club program but it is not exclusive to the young club members — adults are welcome. Wyatt will read, talk and act out scientific experiments, said Richoz. "And she always has a question and answer session." Wyatt's audience is the 7-12 year-old age group and her specialty is non-fiction. She began her career at the Canadian Children's Book Centre and went on to become managing editor of Owl Magazine. In 1979 she helped launch the Kids Can Press non fiction program and has since edited more than 100 non-fiction titles, including several award winners. Wyatt has seven titles to her name including: The Amazing Dirt Book; The Science Book for Girls and Other Intelligent Beings and; Weather Watch. Her latest work is A Space Alien Studies the Human Body. Richoz said fun is the key element in Wyatt's works. "Her latest book is really fun, inside and out. It's about an alien who comes to earth and describes the human body, but not in human terms," said Richoz. Skin is called body covering, for example. Richoz said readers are encouraged to view the world in novel ways and learn about anatomy at the same time. Wyatt's visit kicks off the reading portion of the summer club but the actual club activities don't start until August. "We are doing it a bit differently this year," said Richoz. "We are encouraging kids to sign up and get their reading passports now." Titles read are recorded in the passports throughout July while events like the crafts, games and film evenings will start in August. Richoz said the club concept has proved "extremely popular," with 25 to 30 kids attending each session. Sessions run for ages 5-9 on Wednesdays in August between 4 and 5 p.m. and 7-8 p.m. There will also be pre-school sessions for kids aged 3-4 on Wednesday mornings from 11 a.m. to noon. The club is designed to encourage reading and help children set their own reading goals. "Studies show that good reading habits benefit children in the classroom and the summer reading club helps maintain levels during the summer holiday break," said Richoz. The club is sponsored by the B.C. Library Association and the Whistler library with support from the provincial Library Services Branch. Wyatt will also speak at the Pemberton library on Thursday, July 8 at noon and in Squamish on Friday July 9 at 11 a.m.

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