23 Aug 2014
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Australian Sound and Soul Coming to the Two Towns

In the hands of "Didgeridoo Down Under," an ancient instrument made of a hollowed tree and a blue-tongued lizard are agents of peace and goodwill.

Australian Sound and Soul Coming to the Two Towns Australian Sound and Soul Coming to the Two Towns Australian Sound and Soul Coming to the Two Towns Australian Sound and Soul Coming to the Two Towns

Books put ideas in children’s heads - ideas of Quidditch and real-life creatures like blue-tongued skinks.

Seizing on this truism, the Massachusetts Library Board and the state’s public libraries from far-away Williamstown to Hamilton-Wenham have invited kids to discover and explore the world through a reading program called "One World, Many Stories’ this summer.

It is that program that will bring "Didgeridoo Down Under" on Wednesday night.

"The Massachusetts library system sends out a list of themes every year and asks librarians to vote on their favorite idea," explained Young Adult librarian Kim Claire.

Claire and her colleagues chosea theme that promised to open children’s minds to foreign people and places.

Collaborating with children’s librarian Lorraine Der, Claire set about planning Hamilton-Wenham’s summer program early in the year. For the young adult program she named "You Are Here," Claire organized lists for various categories including travel books and road trips tales. "The Discovery of Jeanne Baret: A Story of Science, the High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe," by Glynis Ridley, is one of the titles selected by Claire that is guaranteed to stir the blood of even the most contrarian teen.

Librarian Nicole Monk, filling in for a vacationing Der, enthusiastically offered three titles selected for younger children - an Algonquin Cinderella story called "The Rough Faced Girl," by Rafe Martin, "Waking Up Down Under," by Carol Votaw and "Tiddalick the Frog," an ancient Dreamtime story known to the native people of Australia.

The second two books, Monk explained, were specially chosen to compliment an upcoming event with scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 10.

The two-part event runs from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the library’s Children’s Room. In the first hour Raihan Alam will provide instruction on how to play the distinctly Australian instrument the didgeridoo. In the second hour Alam, accompanied by his traveling and performance partner a Blue Tongued Skink (a reptile native to Australia), he will educate as he entertains the audience with didgeridoo playing and doumbek drumming.

“The program is based on the didgeridoo but it’s really about a lot more,” Alam said.

Through high energy performances, Alam and the other members of "Didgeridoo Down Under" seek to teach their young audiences about science and respect for the environment while also fostering creativity, tolerance, empathy, character building and the development of better global citizens.

“I leave my house every day on a mission to make a difference in kids lives," said "Didgeridoo Down Under" founder, South Africa-born Darren Liebman. "(The work) is a blessing beyond words. We found a formula that works really well.”

Alam, who teaches middle school in St. Petersburg, Fla. when he’s not touring the states in the summer months, took up didgeridoo playing six years ago after being introduced to it by Liebman and friends.

Born in Ohio to Bengali parents and raised in Minnesota, Alam - like the other three members of  "Didgeridoo Down Under" - works alone.

“This year I finished school on June 9 and I left (to tour) on June 10. I won't be home until Aug. 14 and I report (back) to school on Aug. 15," said Alam, who in addition to his Blue Tongued Skink is kept company by a two-foot long Sinaloan Milk snake.

Explaining his arrangement, Alam said; “I love reptiles and have had reptiles all my life.”

Months on the road, alone with a skink and a snake, does get lonely however. Alam happily reported this week that this year, for the first time, his wife and two children have joined him.

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