Give Them a Hand: Library Creates Puppet Theater for Kids to Honor Boy Who Loved to Read.
Article retrieved from: New Haven Register (CT) - February 24, 2006, by Ann DeMatteo
Contributed black and white photo:
The puppet theater was created in honor of Will Laubach, a local boy who died in early 2005 just before his fourth birthday.
Matthew Laubach, 2, of Hamden, plays at the new puppet theater at the North Haven Memorial Library. The theater was created in honor of his brother, Will, who died suddenly in early 2005 just two months before his fourth birthday.
Welcome to the brightly colored puppet theater, where pigs, geese, cows, goats, puppets and kids smile right back at you.
On almost any given day, preschoolers create Lego statues, learn words from books, use computers, play games or perform puppet shows for their parents in the children's room of the North Haven Memorial Library.
The puppet theater, created by doctor-turned-artist Ted Esselstyn, was built in honor of Will Laubach, who died in early 2005 two months shy of his fourth birthday.
After meeting with Will's parents, Esselstyn, of Higganum, knew that he wanted "whimsical animals"to be on the front of the theater, which is made of white pine and plywood for a "nice, rustic appeal."
Library Director Lois Baldini said the $10,000 gift of a new puppet theater was made possible through memorial donations from Will's friends and family and a $6,500 gift from the Friends of the North Haven Library.
The theater and the mural behind it have a barnyard theme because Will loved to read books about animals and farms, said Patricia LaTerza, children's librarian.
"We're very happy to have it,"Baldini said. "It's a wonderful addition to the children's department. The Laubachs were so very kind to think of us,"Baldini said.
Friends of the Library President Phyllis Kaercher said the friends always wanted to have a better puppet theater, and, "Sadly, this gave us the opportunity…It's just beautiful."
Bernadette Laubach said that the loss of her son, due to a sudden and overwhelming infection, was "the heartbreak of a lifetime. You never expect something like this to happen. He was a very healthy kid who never even had an ear infection,"she said.
She and her husband, Mark, who live in Hamden, have two other children, Matthew, 2, and Sara, four months. They regularly visit the library too.
"It's been quite a year. Two weeks after Will died I found out I was pregnant. We've had extreme sadness and extreme joy in one short year,"she said.
"But this is really the story of a little boy who loved the library,"Bernadette Laubach said. "Will was an early reader. He loved it here. Our hope is that we share his love for this library with many, many children."
Often upon arrival, toddlers and bigger kids dive into to the puppet theater, where they can talk to Curious George and a plethora of other puppets that sleep on the floor while the kids are away. The space is only big enough for kids to perform in front of their parents. But that's all their imaginations really need.
"It's beautiful. My kids enjoy it. Every time we come here, they play,"said Gina Kruglik of the Northford section of North Branford.
"It's fun. I put on a Clifford show,"said Kyle Kruglik, 7.
"I think it's nice. I think that it's great that kids can use their imagination in there,"said Paulette DeMaio, a North Haven mother who brings her kids to the library.
Written by Ann DeMatteo.