Karen Porcello has an affinity for children and a love for books. Widely known as the beloved storyteller in Manlius, she has been taking kids on imaginary adventures for 20 years. Last Friday, a room full of friends and fans gathered at the Manlius library to celebrate her work, and Mayor Rick Penhall declared Aug. 8, 2008, "Karen Porcello Day," for her role as a "positive force for early literacy."
"She makes a book come to life," said Grace Bang, a fourth grader at Enders Road Elementary School. "She makes stuff that could be boring, exciting. [And] she's very nice."
Her popularity evident, the room was filled with a healthy buzz of excitement. Picture collages displayed hundreds of happy faces, artwork adorned the walls, and sweets such as cupcakes and cake were served on the side. Families lined up to give Porcello hugs and some presented her with flowers.
"It's so nice because she remembers everybody's names," said Maureen Crescenti of Fayetteville, mother of two and expecting her third any day now.
Sue Bang of Manlius agreed.
"She knows everyone's name," said Bang, amazed at Porcello's memory. She also confessed it's very hard not to pay attention when Porcello's telling a story. "Sometimes she has 20 kids in a room, and she gets them all to sit and listen. She's very animated."
Manlius Library Director Pat Infantine recognized Porcello's "amazing level of energy and enthusiasm," while Porcello, who said she can never get enough attention, acknowledged everyone with smiles, jokes and sincere appreciation to all.
"It's wonderful to have a job where you make friends," Porcello said.