Maria Petronio-McAfee, the Graniteville School principal, will be hard-pressed to duplicate last Friday night’s extraordinary reading of Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel’s acclaimed “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Barnes & Noble Book Store, which is located in the Smithfield Commons off Route 44, was the backdrop for McAfee’s stage and a reading that featured emotions and educational experiences that thrilled an audience of young and old alike.
Moreover, once McAfee – who was assisted by page-turning elves/teachers June Vandall and Laura Fontaine throughout the reading – closed the red-cover book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” people in the Graniteville gathering burst into laughter as well as oohs and aahs when a special guest appeared.
It was non-other than the Grinch, a.k.a. Serena Allan, who plays a host of characters at special events such as last Friday night’s “Grinchmas Book Fair” and Superhero Parties and has been a special friend to McAfee and The Graniteville School.
“This is really, really special,” said Christine Andrews, a one-time Executive Planner with the Cranston Chamber of Commerce who is now the clerk at Graniteville School and at times McAfee’s right arm. “We are absolutely thrilled with the turnout and Mrs. McAfee did a fantastic job in holding the children’s attention.”
That may have been an understatement, seeing as how McAfee delivered a reading with tremendous feeling that kept the children quietly on their edge of the seats from the time she opened the book until she finished the reading amid applause from students and their impressed parents.
“Our children love Mrs. McAfee,” several mothers said as the principal hugged student-after-student and joined the Grinch. “There was also lots of feeling and love in this [Barnes & Noble] reading room tonight.”
The unique “Grinchmas Book Fair” was organized by Andrews and Special Education Teacher Assistants Nadine O’Connor and Kristen Mayo.
Graniteville students and their families were invited to the store to browse books and enjoy McAfee’s reading while school staff members were able to create “wish baskets” filled with books that families were able to purchase for the school.
“This was a win, win and win event for everyone,” McAfee noted. “Barnes & Noble serves as the prefect hosts; the store also gave us 10 percent of all thee profits of their sales for the evening.”