The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update


October 11, 2011

Contest catches celebs in midst of 'conversation'

Volunteer's idea becomes project to encourage young readers

ANDERSON, Ind. — Phyllis Smith isn’t accustomed to hearing voices when she’s working in the Anderson Public Library.

But one discussion she recently “heard” gave her the idea to start a project encouraging young readers to imagine and write dialogues between famous people.

And now, the nonprofit Friends of Anderson Public Library is sponsoring a contest where young readers imagine a conversation between famous people.

As an example, here’s Smith’s account:

“I was the only one working because the rest of the volunteers were smarter than I was. It was very hot outside and very hot inside, too. ...

“Suddenly, I could faintly hear a man’s voice saying, ‘What is making that dreadful music? Will you please stop? I am trying to compose a symphony. How can I compose with that noise in my head?’

Smith happened to be near the biographies section for subjects whose last name begin with B.

So it was natural for her to “hear” a conversation between hip-hop/R&B singer Beyonce and classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven.

As Smith imagined a part of it:

Beyonce: “I write music, too, but mine is lightweight stuff compared to yours. ... The genre is called R&B.”

Beethoven: “HUH! I guess that I write SS&C.”

Beyonce: “SS&C?”

Beethoven: “Yes. Symphonies, Sonatas, and Concertos. But no dancing! I expect people to sit quietly and listen when I play. If they aren’t quiet and respectful, I refuse to perform!”

Beyonce: Oh I like people to get into my music and dance while I’m singing. “

So far, Smith has created lengthier dialogues between figure skater Tara Lipinski and U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, and former first lady Laura Bush and Wild West hero Buffalo Bill. She posts them on a personal blog.

Smith taught in Anderson elementary schools for 30 years. She retired in 1995 and home-schooled a grandson. At the time, she was looking for a community service project for her grandson and came across the Friends of the Library, of which she is still a volunteer member.

The Friends sponsor a book sale which raises funds for library programs and author visits.

Now, the Friends of the Library are encouraging all area to drop by the upcoming book sale on Oct. 14 and 15 and purchase two biographies. A contest form and rules form is also available.

Then, young readers can write a conversation from ideas gleaned from the books. There is no word limit and the two age groups are 15 and under, and 16 and over. Entries and completed Celebrities Conversation may be left at the Anderson Public Library’s checkout desk or sent to Friends of the Library, in care of the Anderson Public Library, 111 E. 12th St., Anderson, IN 46012.

The deadline is Oct. 31. Prizes will be awarded.

Smith’s blog friends may send entries to her at Her blog is

If a blog friend is too far away to attend the sale, she will buy two books and donate them in the friend’s name to a classroom.

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