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Mr. Kippy makes reading fun(ny)

By BY KAYLA BELL
July 13, 2010 at 2:13 a.m.

Mr. Kippy, Clifford Edge,  reads a book to a roomful of youngsters at the Victoria Public Library on Main Street Tuesday afternoon.Mixing humor with props and musical art, Edge entertained a roomful of anxious kids while promoting the idea that reading can be fun and adventurous.

SUMMER READING PROGRAM

WHAT: Program that encourages kids to read by providing prizes and hosting special events

WHERE: Victoria Public Library, 302 North Main St.

WHO: Designed for, but not limited to, toddlers, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten through fifth-graders

WHEN: All summer. Visit www.VictoriaPublicLibrary.org for a full calendar

COST: Free

FOR MORE INFO: Call 361-485-3302.

At first parents gasped, waiting for their kids to react to the man who, out of nowhere, began bouncing a ball off the seated children's heads.

But the children just giggled, and soon, each stretched out his or her neck for a turn to be thumped.

Mr. Kippy was in town.

The 48-year-old storyteller from Portland, Texas, said playing ball with the children before his routine helps get them focused.

His technique, which he's been perfecting 20 years, worked.

For an hour Tuesday, Mr. Kippy had the attention of 128 children and their parents at the Victoria Public Library.

Mr. Kippy comes to the library every year as part of its Summer Reading Program.

"He's one of our favorites," the children's librarian, Ashley Dickinson, said.

The theme for Mr. Kippy's routine this year was transportation. He spun a "Wheels on the Bus" book like a basketball on his finger before sitting down to read to an engaged audience.

"He shows kids books are fun," said Karen Palacious, of Victoria, who brought her two children.

In between books, Mr. Kippy played games, sang songs and dressed in different costumes.

With the switch of a hat, he turned into a train conductor, pilot, sailor and human helicopter. Before transforming into his first character, a unicyclist, Mr. Kippy warned his audience.

"If I take this hat off, you'll be able to see this terrible haircut I got," he teased before tipping up his baseball cap to reveal a bald head.

The room didn't have time to stop laughing before Mr. Kippy swarmed around the place on his miniature unicycle.

"He's so uninhibited and silly, he draws kids in," Kim King said, adding that she and her children gave up a trip to Corpus Christi just to see Mr. Kippy.

Mr. Kippy, whose real name is Clifford Charles Edge III, (Kippy was better than "Cliff Edge," he joked) was just as humorous after the show.

He said he fell into the storytelling gig after getting a "totally worthless" masters degree in musical theatre and art.

Since then, he's played countless characters and said he's become used to getting funny looks.

Edge told the story of how a police officer once pulled him over when he was dressed as a lion.

Then, there was the time his vehicle got caught in high water while he was in a bear costume.

"Nobody came to help me," he said. "They probably thought, 'Oh, a bear can handle it.'"

No doubt the children at the library that day would have helped Mr. Kippy.

"He's amazingly awesome," 9-year-old Brenlee King said after her third time meeting Mr. Kippy.

But Edge said he enjoys Mr. Kippy just as much as the children do.

"I don't feel like I've matured very much since sixth- grade," he said. "It really is a great job."

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