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Children's Theatre Festival

The local young ones' version of Lollapalooza happens this weekend at the Nazareth College Arts Center, when Nazareth and Rochester Children's Theatre host a hand-clappin', foot-stompin', drum-poundin', three-day extravaganza of plays, dance, juggling, and more.

            The festival begins Friday evening with a fantastically mystical interpretation of C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and continues through Sunday afternoon with a closing production of the much-loved classic The Princess and the Pea (cast pictured).

Visiting performing artists include Red Grammer, whose critically acclaimed "Teaching Peace" and other songs are particularly pertinent right now, and the gravity-defying duo The Gizmo Guys, whose amazing, gyrating antics astound all generations. Our family's favorite is Clyde Morgan and Khalid Saleem's Afro-Brazilian Music and Dance, through which children learn about Yoruba tribal traditions, as well as how art can be a part of the rhythm of daily life.

            For festivalgoers who have a yen for science or history, the Rochester Museum and Science Center will present shows about the wondrous dinosaur era and the transformative power of energy, while ancient Greek heroes like Hercules will be brought to life in Myth Masters. Whenever they're inspired, or simply need a break from the Dionysian revelry, kids are encouraged to draw on their own creativity by engaging in free hands-on activities such as "Mask Making," "Go Fly a Kite," and "Clayland."

            Thankfully, there's no mosh pit, but the events on the three stages guarantee just as many physically engaging and life-altering moments.

            The Children's Theatre Festival is May 14 through 16 at the Nazareth College Arts Center, 4245 East Avenue. Tix: $5 to $12. 389-2170

--- Alisia G. Chase

This week for families:

Batting Clinics Sat, May 15. With Rochester Red Wings players, Golf Tee, 1039 Ridge Rd, Webster, 12 p.m. Tix: $4. 872-1390, www.thegolftee.net.

Brighton Memorial Library Story times: toddlers, Mondays, 10:30 a.m.; preschoolers, Mondays, 11:30 a.m.; PJ stories, Tuesdays, 7 p.m.; toddlers and preschoolers, Fridays, 10 a.m.; families, Thursdays, 7 p.m. 2300 Elmwood Ave. 784-5300

Children's Theatre Festival Fri-Sun, May 14-16. Rochester Children's Theatre, Nazareth College Arts Center, 4245 East Ave, Fri 6-8 p.m., Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 1-5 p.m. Tix: $5-$12. 389-2170

Empowering Your Children to Survive and Thrive in the Media Age Tues, May 18. Terrence Ross, Asbury First United Methodist, 1050 East Ave, 7 p.m. Free. 271-1050

Learning to Look/Looking to Learn Thurs, May 13. Introducing art to children, Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave, 4-5:30 p.m. Free.

Preschool Family Workshop Thurs, May 13. For ages 2.5-5, art project, story, tour, Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave, 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Tix: $15. 473-7720 ext 3056

Rochester Contemporary Sat, May 15. Mothers and children over 12 discussion and artwork event, Rochester Contemporary, 137 East Ave, 2-4 p.m. www.rochestercontemporary.org.

Science Exploration Days Wed, May 12. For elementary and secondary students and families, interactive exhibits, live demos, Student Life Center, St. John Fisher College, 3690 East Ave, 7-9 p.m. Free. 359-5183

Seneca Park Zoo Creatures of the Night, Wed, May 12, 6-8 p.m. Tix: $8.75 per person. Preregister. | Hug a Bug, Tues, May 18, for ages 3-4, 10:15 or 11:30 a.m. $18 | 2222 St. Paul St. 467-9453

SnoopyFri-Sun through May 16. School of the Arts, Ensemble Theatre, 45 Prince St, Fri-Sat 7 p.m., Sun 2 p.m. Tix: $7, $5 students, $3 kids. 242-7682

Strong Museum Wednesdays for Tots, Wed, May 12, puppet show, 9:30 a.m. Tix: $4, $3 kids. | Making American Music, Wed, May 12, best of the big band era, 7:30 p.m. Sold out. | Berenstein Bears Family Weekend, Sat-Sun, May 15-16, Michael Berenstein and Berenstein Bears visits, drawing workshops, Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 12-5 p.m. | One Manhattan Square, 263-2700, www.strongmuseum.org.

Information on museum exhibits can be found in the calendar's Museum section.

The wonders of Oz

Perhaps you have children who cannot wait to get their hands on the next book in a series. They even write to the author, giving ideas for the next book or begging to know when it will be published.

            I am referring, of course, to the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. Surprised? If all you know of Oz is the wonderful movie with Judy Garland in ruby slippers, you'll be happy to know there's so much more.

            Baum first wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900. He wrote several sequels, and tried to leave it at that. But his young readers wouldn't allow it. His "little friends" pestered him with requests, so he went on to write a total of 18 books, recounting further adventures of Dorothy, the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, and Glinda. The series also includes other wonderful characters, such as Ozma (the "beautiful girl ruler of Oz"), Button Bright, Polychrome (the rainbow fairy), Jack Pumpkinhead (who, naturally, has the head of a pumpkin), and one of my favorites, Shaggy Man.

            The Oz books are full of adventure, magic, puns, irony, and happy endings. Many editions include beautiful pen and ink drawings, and even some watercolor drawings, by the original illustrator, John R. Neill. Some editions of The Emerald City of Oz include color paintings embellished with sparkling green metallic ink. They truly enhance the magical quality of the books.

            My son and I have enjoyed the adventures, general silliness, puns, and irony of the series. What more could you want?

--- Lynn Malooly