Amelia Bedelia celebrates National Library week in Minden
Put yourself in Amelia Bedelia’s shoes.
It’s your first day of work as a housekeeper for Mrs. Rogers, and you want to do your best. Looking at the list of chores she’s set out, you see that you’re supposed to “dress the chicken.”
Who wouldn’t put a natty little suit on the roasting hen?
Young fans of Amelia Bedelia’s literal-minded escapades will giggle as they see them acted out at the Minden library by — none other than Amelia herself. The winsome character who has charmed generations of readers will perform at 6 p.m. Tuesday, to help launch National Library Week.
Dressed in black, with a white apron she bought in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and sporting a festive hat with glued-on daisies, Amelia will seize misunderstood words by their homophones and turn them topsy-turvy. “What did Mrs. Rogers mean when she told me to ‘run over the tablecloth with an iron?” she’ll ask, dashing back and forth on a tablecloth laid on the floor while clutching an iron. “What do you mean, that the iron does the running?”
Some young readers may recognize Library Services Coordinator “Miss Carol” (Nageotte) in the role of Amelia, but no one will see her step out of character during the 40-minute performance she has been delivering for more than 20 years. In this 50th anniversary year of the publication of the first Amelia Bedelia book, by author Peggy Parish, most of Nageotte’s days off from the Minden library are booked with appearances at Reno libraries.
“I’ve been ‘doing’ Amelia since 1990,” Nageotte says. “I still have the envelope that I used to jot down my very first thoughts about what props I would use, and what costume I would wear.”
In the intervening years she has learned to substitute rubber chickens for actual fowl, and she now uses rubber eggs when she asks audience members to sit far apart from one another to “separate the eggs.” But the steaks she trims (with Christmas ribbons) are real.
When Amelia is instructed to “dust the furniture,” she does just that: she puts talcum-powder dust on the living room chairs. And on the “antiques” (adults in attendance).
While all ages respond to Amelia’s misadventures, Nageotte says second graders and up get the literal meanings and understand why Amelia is always getting mixed up.
“And little kids just think I’m silly,” she said.
Then there are the stage-door fans who linger after performances to chat with Amelia.
“They want me to come work at their houses,” she said.