Children fill Shaler library garden with fairy houses

| Monday, July 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Shaler North Hills Library staff members are expecting a few new magical neighbors with the completion of fairy houses located throughout the library's gardens.

Close to 150 people came to the library's monthly family night on the first day of summer to participate in fairy-themed activities that included building the fairy houses with the help of Shaler Garden Club members.

“The fairies have taken over,” said Ingrid Kalchthaler, the library's youth services coordinator, with a laugh. “At the library, we try to make it a good center for the community and make it a place to experience imagination and creativity … the same imagination and creativity of opening a book.”

Shaler North Hills Library patrons who take the time to look toward their feet will see tiny dwellings under the bushes and beside the rocks around the library's landscaping.

“It's really fun to see them all,” Kathy Barkovich said.

Barkovich, a member of the Shaler Garden Club who helped lead the fairy-house building project, said she was inspired to join the library for the fairy-themed program because of her granddaughter.

Barkovich, a former Shaler Area art teacher, helped her granddaughter Gwen Barkovich, 4, of Ross Township create fairy houses in both of their home gardens because of Gwen's love of fairies. After Barkovich's fairy house received positive attention at last year's Great Garden Tour, she wanted to share the project.

Library staff read the story “Fairy Houses” by Tracy Kane. Then, Shaler Garden Club members presented the program participants with a variety of natural materials, including bark, dried flowers and stones, to create their dwellings.

Children and their families turned tiny pebbles into fairy stepping stones, handfuls of moss became soft bedding, and a seashell filled with water served as a bathtub for the mystical creatures.

“It taught them the fun and love of the idea of fairies, … a love and respect of gardens and nature, and I think, most important, maybe to me, is the creativity of what they can build using their imagination,” Barkovich said.

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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