Six-year-old Noah Jenner went home with Bigfoot and astronauts.
Anna Wilson, 9, chose to follow the epic journey of a fictional barn owl, while Zach and Luke Brennan, ages 9 and 7, delved into the worlds of sea creatures, pet heroes and George Lucas.
Those were just a few of the grand adventures more than 200 children from the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area embarked on last week following a visit from the Silver Lake Elementary Bookmobile.
"Our goal is to get books into the hands of kids to make sure they continue reading over the summer," said Silver Lake librarian Jodie Klein, who led about a dozen volunteers that travelled with the bookmobile last week. "But I just love seeing the kids and visiting with them on their own turf."
The Silver Lake Bookmobile has been touring the M.O.T. area each summer for nearly a decade, but this is the first year the newly-dubbed "Words on Wheels" program has an actual vehicle of its own.
"We used to load up the volunteer's personal vehicles with books, but this year the school district was kind enough to provide us with a van that previously was used to transport students with special needs," Klein said. "It's our hope to get it painted at some point. We'd also like to partner with some local businesses to get it up and running and a true bookmobile. We'd also like to eventually add some entertainment and have local authors do a story time."
This summer, as in years past, the Silver Lake bookmobile is offering two books and a popsicle to every child who shows up at one of its four stops each Wednesday from June 19 to July 17, weather permitting.
The weekly stops include Townsend Fire Hall from 2 to 2:30 p.m., Middletown Village playground from 2:40 to 3:15 p.m., Dale United Methodist Church on Lake Street from 3:30 to 4 p.m. and Silver Lake Park from 4:05 to 4:30 p.m.
"I think it's a great community program," Lakeside neighborhood resident Judy Maloney said as her 7-year-old daughter Caitlin searched for chapter books. "It's a good opportunity for the kids to see each other during their summer break and they get free books. What could be better?"
Jamie and Joe Ulrich of The Legends neighborhood brought four of their six children to the bookmobile's stop at Silver Lake last week.
"This is the first time we've been to the bookmobile and I feel like we've cleaned them out," Jamie said, her arms loaded with books. "My kids were excited to pick out new books, and the popsicles don't hurt either. I'd say we'll definitely come back again."
Brenda Brennan, the Ulrich's neighbor and a recent transplant from New Jersey, said she and her boys were thrilled to learn about the bookmobile.
Page 2 of 2 - "I really want my kids to learn to love books and something fun like this really helps," she said. "That's why we tried to get here right on time because we weren't sure how long the free books were going to last."
Klein said there's little chance of the bookmobile running out of summer reads, partly because each stop also functions as a collection point for book donations.
"The donations are what allow us to continue giving away the books for free," she said. "We have a few thousand in reserve and we always try to hold a few back to make sure there are still books for each age group at every stop."