SpongeBob Squarepants might be a kind-hearted dork, but he's a funny dork. And so is his buddy Patrick the Starfish.
Although these two cartoon characters are popular with kids, the voices behind the characters are adults who can be as silly as the characters they voice.
Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob, and Bill Fagerbakke the voice of Patrick, are coming to the Tri-Cities to entertain kids and their teachers.
They'll be reading stories Oct. 18 at Tapteal Elementary School in West Richland and Christ the King Catholic Elementary School in Richland.
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Their appearance is being made possible by the Read Across America foundation, a national organization that encourages celebrities to volunteer time to read to kids in cities and towns across the country.
Kenny has been the voice of SpongeBob for 12 years and loves it as much today as he did in the beginning, he told the Herald in a recent telephone interview.
"I never get tired of SpongeBob. And I love reading to kids and being animated with them," he said. "I used to read to my younger siblings all the time when we were kids."
Kenny doesn't plan to dress up like SpongeBob during his visit. And he isn't worried the kids will be disappointed.
"Most kids are savvy enough to know there's a real person behind the cartoon character," he said.
SpongeBob isn't Kenny's only claim to vocal fame.
This actor-comedian started out in show business providing the voice for a character in the TV cartoon series "Rocko's Modern Life" in the mid-1990s. That led to voice work in the "Powderpuff Girls" TV show, and he's had a number of voice roles in the "Transformers" animated TV show and numerous other shows.
His most recent film credit was lending his voice to the characters Skids and Wheelie in "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen."
"I'm pretty sure I'll also be providing voice work in the next "Transformers" movie," he said. "I started in this business doing stand-up comedy but I find I really love doing voices for cartoon characters more.
"And I really love these Read Across America gigs because I can do more sketch comedy with the kids as I read, and they seem to love it. And as long as what I'm doing is encouraging them to read, I'm happy."
Gary Moskovitz of West Richland was the catalyst to bringing Kenny and Fagerbakke to the Tri-City schools. He's been involved in Read Across America for about 12 years, starting in Los Angeles. He recently moved to the Tri-City area where his wife's brother, David Flackman, lives.
Moskovitz hopes to bring in other celebrity readers, but that will all depend on whether Tri-City school PTA groups can pay for the trips.
The celebrities do not charge a fee to read to the kids, but the Read Across America organization arranges travel and accommodations.
Any PTA groups interested in taking part in the program can call Moskovitz at 818-631-4279.