ERJCC Book & Arts Festival celebrates Oliver Rabbit Family Day

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Children of all ages played in the “snow” on the grounds of the Merfish Center on November 14, to celebrate the Oliver Lapin Family Day of the ERJCC’s Ann and Stephen Kaufman Book and Art Fair.

The Lapin family – parents, Bobby and Eva Lapin – gifted this annual day at the Book Fair, in memory of their son, Oliver, who loved coming to the J for fun activities.

As part of the program, children explored the wonders of Ezra Jack Keats’ beloved children’s book, “The Snowy Day”. Winner of the Caldecott Medal, “The Snowy Day” continues to touch the hearts of readers across generations.

This year, the Houston Grand Opera is part of Family Day. The HGO season includes the world premiere of the opera “The Snowy Day”, created by Joel Thompson and Andrea Davis Pinkney. Children enjoyed crafts and activities and a special reading from opera librettist and author of “Poem for Peter”, Andrea Davis Pinkney.

The story of “The Snowy Day” came to life with special reading and singing by opera librettist, Chelsea Lerner, with the participation of children and their parents. During story time, the children learned to say snow in Hebrew and Spanish, interacting with Lerner and playing with imaginary snowballs.

“After 18 months without seeing live shows, it was super fun to see [the audience] reactions, ”Lerner said. “I was really surprised at how many interactions were happening. The kids were just ready to jump in and help me out and sing really, really loud; they responded really well. Our goal is for people to come out of here singing the same song at the opera.

Marisa Nowitz and her family were among the participants. “It’s a great opportunity to hear the story ‘The Snowy Day’ and enjoy the snow,” Nowitz told JHV. “My children were begging me to play in the snow. We’ve been to the J Book Fair in previous years, but it’s been a while. We enjoyed the interactive reading with the opera; the kids loved it.

For many children, it was the first time to hear a story from an opera singer. After the “snowy” period of Oliver Rabbit Family Day, families returned home with cold hands, warm hearts and singing like an opera singer.


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