NCRL News and Events

Meet the Puppeteers

Michelle McNiel - Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Every summer, North Central Regional Library hires puppeteers to perform at its 30 libraries.

For the past few years, the dynamic duo of Brian Higgins, a Wenatchee High School teacher, and Mark Wavra, a teacher at Eastmont High School, have put on the shows. This summer, Wavra has stepped out and Higgings will only be doing half the summer. So the library district hired new puppeteers — all with acting and musical backgrounds — to take the summer show on the road.

They are:

  • Skylar Gingrich, 27, of Wenatchee, who recently completed a 27-month stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. After the summer, she will be moving to Spain to teach English to children.
  • Mira Cassiano, 18, of Wenatchee, a 2015 graduate of Wenatchee High School and Wenatchee Valley College who will be leaving this fall for an 18-month mission in Brazil for her church.
  • Gillian Eggers, 18, of East Wenatchee, who graduated earlier this month from Eastmont High School. She will be attending college this fall to pursue studies in music and art therapy.

The three have adapted stories in a series of skits that include Sheldon the Shark, Little Red Riding Hood, Ms. Know-It-All, and a story based on a folk tale from India. The shows will be intermixed with music (all three puppeteers play the ukulele) and sing-alongs.

The five-county library district has been doing the puppet shows each summer for the past 16 years. The program was started by longtime children's librarian Leslie Marshall at Wenatchee Public Library and later expanded to all the branch libraries.

"They were so popular and I just thought everyone should have puppet shows," Marshall said.

The new puppeteers will start their shows on June 21 and will continue throughout the summer to late August. 

Jack Nisbet

Michelle McNiel - Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Spokane author brings storytelling to seven libraries


The stories that make it into Jack Nisbet's popular books on Northwest history are really just the beginning. They have information he gathers from written documents, personal interviews and exploring interesting places.

But he knows there's much more to learn.

His visits to schools and libraries and other venues around the region, giving talks about the stories he's researched, is where some of the best learning happens, he said.

"There is always someone in the audience who can tell me something new and the story evolves," he said. "You do a book and that's really just the starting point."

The Spokane author and naturalist will bring his storytelling to seven North Central Regional Library branches this spring and summer. He will present different stories from his published collection of essays, "Ancient Places: People and Landscape in the Emerging Northwest."

Here's his schedule:

  • May 24, Moses Lake Library, 6 p.m., the story of 20th century painter and terra cotta sculptor Leno Pristini of Clayton, Wash.
  • June 1, Okanogan Library, 1 p.m., presenting some of the Earth's most spectacular lighting phenomena from two different points of view: fur trader David Thompson around 1800 and an astronaut aboard the International Space Station two centuries later.
  • June 1, Omak Library, 6 p.m., the story of a farmer who found a meteorite on a slope above the Willamette River in 1902 is linked to Northwest mining, museum politics, Ice Age floods, human nature and the history of the universe.
  • June 7, Tonasket Library, 6 p.m., the story of the 1872 earthquake that rattled much of the Northwest as recounted from oral accounts, written descriptions and the latest scientific research.
  • June 9, Twisp Library, 6 p.m., the story of amateur paleobotanist Wes Wehr, who founded Republic's Stonerose Fossil Center, whose busy life also included musical composition, success as a school landscape artist, and an array of famous friends.
  • July 13, Waterville Library, 11 a.m., the farmer who found the meteorite near the Willamette River.
  • July 13, Wenatchee Public Library, 6 p.m., the story of the 1872 earthquake that rattled much of the Northwest.


Nisbet has written several books, most of them about David Thompson and naturalist David Douglas. He said that during his research and travels, he's also heard a number of other stories about Northwest history and geography that sparked his interest. He decided to look into some of them, which resulted in his latest book.

His love of Northwest history started while he worked as a writer for a weekly newspaper in Stevens County in the 1970s. But his storytelling really started from childhood, he said.

"I grew up in a storytelling family in the south that went outside all the time," he said. "It's that simple. I hear about something and I just keep following my curiosity."

"That's one reason I like to take kids out exploring," he added. "They don't overthink things. They just follow their nose and explore."

He said his presentations will be a mix of telling stories and a Powerpoint presentation with photos of places and research materials. His talks are about 40 minutes, followed by another 20 minutes of questions and allowing the audience to talk about their own experiences or knowledge.

Humanities Washington

Kim Neher - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

North Central Washington residents are invited to explore history and cultural diversity through music, dance, and interactive presentations offered by Humanities Washington.

NCRL is bringing four Humanities Washington programs to seven libraries in late April and early May.  


Author and anthropologist Llyn De Danaan will present History in Your Backyard, a program about how she discovered the extraordinary story of a pioneering Native American woman and how everyone can explore the history of their own communities.

De Danaan, who lives in Shelton, has written extensively about the history of Japanese Americans, Native Americans, and European Americans in the 19th and early 20th centuries.


Educator and percussionist Antonio Gómez will present Saffron & Honey: Muslims, Jews, and Christians in Medieval Spain, which tells the story of how collaboration between three world religions in Spain led to advances in science, math, poetry, music, architecture and politics that would ripple throughout Europe and the world.

Gómez, who lives in Puyallup, has developed programming for PBS and the Experience Music Project, and formerly worked as education services manager for KCTS 9 public television.


Eric Davis will present Rap 101: The Message Behind the Music. He is a member of the sociology faculty at Bellevue college and the University of Washington Consulting Alliance. 

Davis, who lives in Tacoma, uses music as a catalyst for discussion about popular culture, diversity, and social justice.


Yesenia Hunter, a Mexican writer and musician who grew up in the Yakima Valley, will present Fandango and the Deliberate Community. She will teach the history, method and context behind fandango in a participatory program that will involve music, dance, and prose. 

Hunter has published several books and lives in Yakima.

Humanities Washington is a nonprofit organization that promotes cultural education and history through presentations, speakers, and exhibits around the state.


April 26 7:00pm Ephrata Public Library
45 Alder N.W., Ephrata

History in Your Backyard
April 27 6:30pm Moses Lake Museum & Cultural Center
401 S. Balsam Street, Moses Lake

History in Your Backyard
April 28 6:30pm Leavenworth Public Library
700 Hwy 2, Leavenworth

History in Your Backyard
May 5 5:30pm Entiat Public Library
14138 Kinzel St, Entiat 

Rap 101
May 10 7:00pm Chelan Public Library
216 N Emerson St, Chelan 

Saffron & Honey
May 11 7:00pm Ephrata Public Library
45 Alder N.W., Ephrata 

Saffron & Honey

May 11 4:00pm Royal City Public Library
136 Camelia, Royal City 

Fandango and the Deliberate Community
 May 12 6:00pm Twisp Public Library
201 N. Methow Valley Hwy, Twisp 
Saffron & Honey

Author Headlines Wildfire Event

Kim Neher - Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Award-winning writer Timothy Egan will be in Wenatchee on Thursday to talk about books, wildfires, and the early days of the U.S. Forest Service and preservation of public lands in America.

Egan will talk at 7p.m. Thursday at the Numerica Performing Arts Center. Starting at 6p.m., several community organizations will have booths presenting information on fire-related topics. They include:

  • The U.S. Forest Service
  • Entiat Hot Shots
  • Cascadia Conservation District
  • John Marshall Photography
  • Columbia Breaks Fire Interpretive Center
  • Chelan County Fire District #1
  • Community Wildfire Planning Assistance Grant
  • American Red Cross
  • Plain Firewise
  • Master Gardeners of Chelan & Douglas Counties
  • State Department of Natural Resources
  • Chelan-Douglas Land Trust

Egan's book, The Big Burn, details the events leading up to the destructive 1910 wildfire that blackened more than 3 million acres in Washington, Idaho, and Montana. In light of the fires that touch so many communities and lives in our region each summer - and in particular the last two summers, North Central Regional Library is encouraging everyone to read the book this spring as part of its Columbia River Reads program.

"Timothy Egan is among Washington State's most celebrated writers," said NCRL Executive Director Dan Howard. "In The Big Burn, he tells a great story about the largest fire in American history. After the devastating fires we faced in recent years, this is a timely read."

Egan won the 2006 National Book Award for his nonfiction account of the Dust Bowl, The Worst Hard Time. He also shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 with a team of reporters for a newspaper series on race issues in America. The Northwest native is a columnist and formerly an enterprise reporter for the New York Times.

Here's how he answered some questions we asked about his life and work:

Can you tell us about your connection with the Northwest and with our central region in Washington?
I'm a third generation Northwesterner, born in Seattle, raised in Spokane.

What is your favorite place to visit in North Central Washington?
Spent my summers in the Cascades and Lake Chelan, and still do, so a tough question. To this day we count Chelan County as a sort of second home (though we don't have a second home there), and I set my novel, The Winemaker's Daughter, in a fictional coulee just above the Columbia River. Always loved the area, from the Enchantments to floating down the Wenatchee River. And the view from the top of Mount Stuart is unbeatable.

Why did you decide to write about the 1910 fire?
I always knew something of this fire growing up. Smokejumpers were my heroes as a little kid. The fire had a mythic status. And then, as a writer, when I looked into it, I got fascinated by the back story - Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot and the founding of the Forest Service.

What surprised you the most in doing your research for the book?
That these kinds of tragedies still repeat themselves. Not wildfires. They'll always be with us, and with increased frequency with climate change. But the loss of human life. We should learn from past mistakes

This happened more than 100 years ago. How did you hear your main subjects' voices?
Yes, indeed! The Forest Service has done a terrific job of collecting the "early memories of the Forest Service,' as they call it, in oral and written histories. As well, Roosevelt and Pinchot were prodigious diary-keepers and letter writers. All those voices came to life when I wrote this book, and some are with me still

Given the back-to-back, record setting fires we've had the last two summers, what can people take away from the book?
That we can, in fact, learn great lessons from the past. That the past is not dead. That a careful reading of this time a hundred plus years ago can inform our decisions now.

What do you like to read?
I'm finishing the epic Winston Churchill trilogy by William Manchester. Riveting. My tastes range from history to memoir to good fiction. The last novel that I truly loved was All the Light We Cannot See.

Are you currently working on a new novel?
Yes! My story of the Irish-American experience, as told through the life of one extraordinary man, is coming out March 1 -- called Immortal Irishmen. It gave me a chance to connect to my heritage.

Future Tech Leader

Kim Neher - Friday, April 01, 2016

With a passion for building and creating that started at a young age with Legos and video games, 17-year-old Theo Marshall's technology skills have now far outpaced his classmates, his teachers, and his school. The Wenatchee High School senior was awarded the Future Technology Leader honor from the North Central Washington Technology Alliance this week. Marshall works part time at Wenatchee Public Library.

"He has produced more high tech products and shown his peers and teacher more new technology than anyone that has come before him," WHS engineering teacher Doug Merrill said, in nominating Marshall for the award. "Frankly, Theo has had more ideas than the school can afford!"

While there were many tech-savvy students from around the region nominated for the award, the review committee was looking for someone who went beyond their engineering homework assignments and initiated their own projects, said Jenny Napier, executive director of GWATA.

Marshall was selected for his "overall leadership, his ability to go above and beyond, and his innovation in creating new and exciting projects," she said. "Theo is pretty incredible."

In his nominating letter, Merrill wrote that Marshall, a third year engineering student, has consistently "shown creativity and ingenuity far beyond his peers." "Theo has the uncanny ability to look at new computer software or electronics or mechanical devices and quickly figure out how to use it," he wrote. Among his accomplishments:

      • His sophomore year, Marshall led a team of three students to build the school's first underwater remotely operated vehicle.
      • His junior year, Marshall helped build the school's first quad-copter from scratch, building and programming the software for it. He researched the parts to buy and even improved on them, using a 3D printer to build new landing gear to accommodate a bottom mount camera.
      • This year, Marshall and another student assembled the school's first large-bed CNC router. More than 400 parts and hardware pieces arrived at the school in 15 boxes and two students put them together to make a precision milling machine. By the end of the school year, Marshall will finish writing the user's manual for the router to help guide future generations of engineering students at the school.
      • Most recently, Marshall created an adaptive device to help a special needs student at the school with her after-school job. The adaptive device helps the student, who is visually impaired, better do her job.
      • He is currently designing and using a 3D printer to create a money-counting advice to help special needs students keep track of money they earn working.

In an interview this week, Marshall said his interest in technology really started with video games. He used to play on consoles and then computers. But when they didn't do what he wanted them to do, he rebuilt a computer to make it work better. As his passion to build and create grew, his parents bought him the technology he wanted, even when they didn't understand it themselves.

"I get bored and I need something to do, so I just start some new project," he said.

Marshall said he plans to work for a local technology company over the summer. If he likes the work, he'll stay in Wenatchee and attend Wenatchee Valley College for two years before heading to Washington State University to pursue a degree in engineering.

Spring Break Activities!

Kim Neher - Wednesday, March 30, 2016

North Central Regional Library will present children's programs at many of our branch libraries during the upcoming spring break from school.

Book-It Repertory Theatre

Book-It Repertory Theatre of Seattle will bring literature to life with their performance of A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin at 10 of our branch libraries. The theater group was founded 26 years ago as a group of artists adapting short stories and touring the Northwest to promote reading. The Splash of Red tour tells the story of Horace Pippin, an African American painter born in Pennsylvania in 1888. While fighting in WWI, he was shot and left unable to use his painting arm. After the war, he worked tirelessly to restore the use of his arm and, after many years, was able to paint again. He was eventually discovered by renowned painter and illustrator N.C. Wyeth, who gave Pippin's art national attention.

Their performances include:

Monday, April 4  10:00am Moses Lake Public Library
Monday, April 4 3:30pm  George Public Library
Tuesday, April 5 10:00am Ephrata Public Library
Tuesday, April 5  4:00pm Quincy Public Library
Wednesday, April 6 1:00pm Wenatchee Public Library
Wednesday, April 6 4:30pm Chelan Public Library
Thursday, April 7 10:00am Oroville Public Library
Thursday, April 7 3:00pm Curlew Public Library
Friday, April 8 10:00am Omak Public Library
Friday, April 8  2:00pm Republic Public Library

The NCRL Puppeteers

Eastmont High School Arts and Theater teacher Mark Wavra and Wenatchee High School English teacher Brian Higgins will perform at 12 of our branch libraries. In their act, the Puppeteers will introduce a new robot puppet and bring back perennial favorites Hairy and Scary the professor, and Randy the big orange lion. These programs are geared toward elementary-aged children. 

Their performances include:

Monday, April 4 10:00am Leavenworth Public Library
Monday, April 4 1:00pm Cashmere Public Library
Monday, April 4  3:30pm Entiat Public Library
Tuesday, April 5  11:00am Brewster Public Library
Tuesday, April 5  1:00pm Bridgeport Public Library
Tuesday, April 5  4:00pm Grand Coulee Public Library
Wednesday, April 6 11:00am Waterville Public Library
Wednesday, April 6  1:30pm Coulee City Public Library
Wednesday, April 6 4:00pm Soap Lake Public Library
Thursday, April 7  11:00am Manson Public Library
Thursday, April 7  1:30pm Okanogan Public Library
Thursday, April 7  4:00pm Twisp Public Library

Book Clubs

NCRL Webmaster - Monday, November 09, 2015

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