More than 500 children gathered at the Fort Dodge Public Library Thursday morning to go on a special journey to a far away land.
The children and their parents came out to see Dan Wardell, host of Iowa Public Television's Kids Clubhouse, who, with his original stories and humor, encouraged kids to read and use their imagination.
During the Reading Road Trip, Wardell took participants on an imaginary journey to Mole Island, where they discovered that Mole Mountain and its amusement park had been overtaken by unhealthy foods and had become known as Junkfood Mountain.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Dan Wardell, host of the Iowa Public Television’s Kids Clubhouse program, entertains the crowd Thursday morning at the Fort Dodge Public Library. Wardell is using a flashlight to do his best scary campfire story introduction to a tale about battling moles.
To help take back Mole Island, Wardell and his hundreds of young travelers uncovered a set of special golden books on how to defeat a mole, which would help them along the way.
"You can always look in a book," said Wardell.
Through their special golden books, they encountered the yellow-hatted mole; they defeated it by jumping up and down, but not without the help of healthy food, which helped break down part of Junkfood Mountain.
"Healthy foods will keep us strong," Wardell told the kids.
After defeating the first mole, they encountered the Green-Shoed Mole, which they tickled away, and the Mole in Retro Glasses, which was danced away by the special dance moves of Bill Hamilton, who brought his granddaughter to the program.
Before recovering the mountain, everyone still had to get past the Mole in Orange Ducky Flippers and the Mole With The Cold, Dark Heart.
They eventually took back Mole Mountain with healthy foods.
"You are now all secret agent superheroes," said Wardell. "You've earned your superhero equipment."
Even though he is a television host, Wardell encouraged the children to go home after the program, turn off the television and video games, and enjoy some time outside.
"Today we used our bodies, used our minds and had fun, and we didn't even have to turn on a TV," said Wardell.
Thursday marked the seventh time Wardell visited Fort Dodge on the Reading Road Trip.
"We absolutely love Fort Dodge," he said. "This is the 29th of our 67 stops this summer."
Laurie Hotz, local children's librarian, said a record crowd of more than 300 kids participated in the 9:30 a.m. session and 268 at 10:30.
For Hamilton, whose dancing skills scared away the Retro Mole, the program was fun, even though he didn't expect to be part of the show.
"But I'll do pretty much anything for the grandkids," Hamilton said. "We watch IPTV every day."