Claire Maslak (left) and Kyoko Conne have teamed up to offer a summer of invention for kids at the Nelson library. Photo supplied

COLUMN: Creating a commotion at your Library

Check this Out


Check this Out

At the start of the sixteenth century, Leonardo Da Vinci was busy inventing things. Just like his creations, his mind galloped ahead of his era, amassing possibilities through assorted assemblages: here a robotic knight, there a flying machine, everywhere a semi-ambulatory innovation. Today’s helicopters, hang gliders, and scuba gear can trace their lineage to his pen.

Five hundred years later the BC Summer Reading Club (SRC) pays playful homage to the famous inventor and imaginator with the 2018 theme of Motion Commotion.

This year’s Summer Reading Club feature artist, Jeff Solway, created characters to encourage kids to get the cogs turning. At the Nelson Library you can expect a lot of moving parts as kids six to twelve enjoy activities and events inspired by the cool cat known as “Leo” DaVinci, “a Master Inventor,” according to his own creator.

“In his lab Leo makes motorized machines of mechanized motion, for those who want to get from here to there in the most fun way possible,” Jeff tells the legion of SRC enthusiasts set to make a commotion in BC libraries this summer. “With the help of his friend J-Cat and the rest of Team Motion Commotion, Leo is always looking for inspiration for his next invention.”

What fun! A quick visit to offers interactive activities, but the real action happens right in the library, where lab assistants Claire and Kyoko (AKA Summer Reading Club leaders) have already begun to put the gears in motion.

Beginning July 4, each week involves movement. There’s On the Go! Transportation week, with Lego drop-in dates for some crazy invention commotion plus art cards with Anita Levesque, so kids can draw cool things just like Leonardo. Go Go Gadget week involves fun with Ozobots (the cutest little robots ever), and as the themes roll out, so do the good times.

Drop-in programs don’t require any sign-up and happen Monday to Friday from 10am to noon. Lego drop-in sessions happen Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 to 2:30pm. There are field trips and extra-special events, some geared to the whole family. Activities run until mid-August, and schedule details are available at For all the latest info you can sign up for the SRC weekly newsletter by emailing

This is the second year we’ve had the oh-so-inventive team of Claire and Kyoko as our Summer Reading Club leaders, and it’s great to have them back. There’s an infectious enthusiasm there doubled with can-do confidence—perfect attributes, come to think of it, for any inventor to have.

“I was so excited to find out that Kyoko and I would be working together again this summer,” said Claire. “We had such a blast last year, and I never could have imagined that we would get the chance to do it all over again.”

Kyoko is equally enthused. “One special theme day we have coming up on August 1st is our Breaker Space day, in which we will be using tools to pull apart old electronics like computers, and then build robots out of the parts,” she said. “I think Da Vinci would have loved Breaker Space!”

Five hundred years ago, would the real Leonardo have imagined these two young millennials so excited about getting together with a whole bunch of kids to repurpose things beyond his wildest dreams?

Who’s to say? The real Da Vinci was, after all, ahead of his time. I like to imagine that if he were here, in the summer of 2018 at the Nelson Public Library, we’d all be fashioning sets of articulated wings and lifting off together. And maybe we will!

Anne DeGrace is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. For more information go to

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