WATERLOO, Iowa --- Children know Dan Wardell as the host of IPTV Kids Clubhouse.
But that didn't mean he was advocating kids park themselves in front of the TV during Friday's Reading Road Trip visit to the Waterloo Public Library. Just the opposite.
"Even though I work at Iowa Public Television, a TV station, when you go home, I want you to turn your TV off and your video games, too," Wardell said. He told the kids to use their imaginations, go outside or find a good book at the library.
The stop was one of 66 across Iowa that Wardell is making during June and July. He also went to Jesup on Friday. On Tuesday, Wardell will be at the Cedar Falls Public Library at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. and at the Waverly Public Library at 1 and 2 p.m.
Wardell did draw on the "inspirational saying" of a popular public TV character as he talked about the theme of big dreams. "Bob the Builder says, 'Can we build it?'" he said.
The roomful of kids responded: "Yes we can!"
He then asked, "Can we dream it?" and received the same chorus of responses from the audience.
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Throughout the presentation he paused to read the big dreams children had written on slips of paper. After asking the child to stand up, he asked the same question and got the children's enthusiastic affirmative response.
"It's all about big dreams today," Wardell said as a bell rang. He pulled out a razor and explained his need to shave every hour after buying a genie's lamp at a garage sale and being granted three wishes.
"I wish I had it in my DNA to grow an amazing moustache," he reported telling the genie that emerged from the lamp. He then showed the kids pictures of him with a moustache and then a full beard, to a lot of laughter. After noting he wished it was in his DNA, Wardell showed the kids pictures of his three young children --- including a baby --- with thick moustaches.
He told the kids his second wish was to pilot a space ship. Wardell wove a tale about flying the ship and crash landing it on an alien planet after running short on fuel.
Soon children were singing --- in both rock 'n' roll and operatic voices --- and playing air guitar. He pretended to hypnotize youth services librarian Kelly Stern and make her act like a kangaroo with the hiccups. And Wardell called volunteers up to the front to put together the components of a healthy meal on a chart, which he said was necessary to rescue five kidnapped aliens from their sugary adversary, Larry the Lollipop.
Wardell's final wish was focused squarely on his audience: That they would have as much fun at the library the rest of the summer as they did during his presentation Friday. It could be a tough wish to grant.