Wild Swan Theater: The Firebird

Wild Swan Theater presents The Firebird Nov. 21-24 in Towsley Auditorium in the Morris Lawerence Buildong at Washtenaw Community College. The performance is for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. From the Wild Swan web page: "Young Ivan, Prince of Russia, must outwit one evil character after another in his quest to find the Firebird who has been stealing the Czar’s golden apples. A thrilling version of the classic Russian folktale, Wild Swan’s production features a host of fantastical creatures including the witch Baba Yaga, Nurl the Gnome, and Sistchik the Snake King as well as swirling Russian folk dancing set to a lively balalaika score." Ticket information is here.

Monsterific Picture Books

Many families are familiar with Ed Emberley’s picture book Go Away, Big Green Monster. He has a new monster book done in the same way, with colorful cut-out illustrations, called Nighty Night, Little Green Monster. It’s cute! And the monster going to bed is cute!

More great monster picture books by Emberley are There Was An Old Monster and If You’re A Monster And You Know It. For even more monster books, see this list.

These books are sure to be sweet (or spooky?) treats at bedtime this October.

Beyond Picture Books

The transition from picture books to chapter books can be tricky for kids (and the big people reading with them!). Finding chapter books that are short enough, fun enough, still have enough pictures, and have simpler plots is a challenge. Here are a couple ideas for kids who are beyond picture books and early readers or for littler ones who are still reading aloud with adults…

My Father's Dragon is loaded with adventure and has lovely black and white illustrations (from the original award winning 1948 edition) on most page spreads. There’s enough action to keep little ones interested in what happens next, too, as we follow the adventures of a young boy on a mission to save a baby dragon from his captors. Using his wits and a few handy items stashed in his backpack, the boy manages to overcome a number of animal obstacles in his path to the dragon. A charming story in which kindness and quick-thinking triumph over the bad guys. Try Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland, too.

The Wizard of Oz, or “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” is more than a movie! The book is a little longer than My Father’s Dragon, but is available in a number of beautifully illustrated editions with each chapter nicely rounded out to introduce a new character or problem for Dorothy and her friends to solve. The story is written with quirky giggle-inducing humor that parents will also appreciate if reading-aloud. If you like this first tale of Oz, you’re in luck – there over 10 books in the Oz series that Baum wrote later!

María Had A Little Llama / María Tenía Una Llamita

María Had A Little Llama is a beautiful picture book by Angela Dominguez that narrates the traditional song of Mary Had A Little Lamb, but... It’s not Mary! It’s not a lamb! The book features beautiful full color illustrations, and both english and spanish text on each page. The book would be great for those who like nursery rhymes or for those looking to add some dual language reading in their day.

Art Table: Fun With Texture

The next time you’re at the Downtown branch, check out the new art project at the art table in the Youth Department! Sometimes 2D art can have the feel of something soft, fuzzy, smooth, or bumpy, simply by using paint and a canvas. Budding artists will enjoy using bumpy boards and crayons to create their own masterpiece.

Developmental Screening for Children

Are you interested in learning more about your young child's growth & development? If you do and live in Washtenaw County, you can take part in the Ages & Stages Questionnaire or ASQ-3 This screening tool can help you understand more about your child's development from 2 months to 5 years of age. On-going developmental screening in the early years can help to ensure that children are on track, and can help identify areas where additional support may be needed. The ASQ-3 includes questions about your child's communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving, and personal social skills. If you live outside of Washtenaw County and have concerns about your child's development, you my want to contact: Early On, call 1-800-Early On or go to 1800earlyon.org.

Challenged Children's Books

Books for audiences of all ages have been challenged over the years. Here is a sampling of some of the challenged titles and the reasons they were challenged.

A Wrinkle in Time, 1963 winner of the Newbery Award, was one of the most often challenged books of the 1990s. In the story, a girl named Meg is transported through time and space with her brother and a friend to rescue her scientist-father from the evil forces that hold him prisoner on another planet. This novel has been challenged for undermining religious beliefs.

The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm have been challenged many times for a number of reasons including racism, violence, anti-Semitic references and negative portrayal of female characters. More specifically, Hansel and Gretel has been challenged for teaching children that it is okay to kill witches, as well as portraying witches as child-eating monsters. Little Red Riding Hood has been challenged for violence, considering Little Red Riding Hood's actions upon the Big Bad Wolf. Also called in to question was the appropriateness of the girl bringing wine to her grandmother and her grandmother later drinking the wine. Snow White was also challenged for violence because a hunter kills a wild boar, and because of the wicked witch's evil wishes toward Snow White.

Other classic fairy tales have been challenged, too. A 1994 version of The Little Mermaid was challenged its illustrations. Bare-breasted mermaids were called pornographic, and the book was seen as containing "satanic pictures."

Speaking of Satan, the Harry Potter books have been challenged for containing Satanism as well as witchcraft, wizardry, cults, death, hate, and dark content.

The Narnia books, a series of seven high fantasy books, have been challenged on the grounds of portraying graphic violence, mysticism, and gore.

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, a story about a boy from a ruined town who endeavors to find out how the town was destroyed, has been challenged for criminalizing the foresting industry.

Wild Swan Theater: The Ugly Duckling

Wild Swan Theater will present "The Ugly Duckling" Oct. 17-Oct. 19 in the Morris Lawrence Building at Washtenaw Community College. Resident playwright Jeff Duncan has put his own spin on the classic tale by H.C. Andersen. The performance is designed for children in preschool through second grade. More information is here.

LEGO Lovers Take Note! Build the Change Call for Designs!

If you have entered our famous LEGO contest or are just a LEGO enthusiast who has made a project that conveys sustainable design there's a contest just for you! Connect4Climate recently partnered with LEGO® to launch the Build the Change Call for Designs. The Build the Change Call for Designs invites individuals and groups from all over the world to showcase their talents and create LEGO® brick sustainable cities.To participate, participants post a photo or video of their LEGO® brick creation to the Connect4Climate Facebook Page and include a brief description of their creation, the hashtag #BuildTheChange, the name of the LEGO® brick creator and, optionally, their city of residence and age. The deadline is September 28, 2013.

Selected photos and videos will be featured at the LEGO® Build the Change Workshop at the EcoCity World Summit in Nantes, France.

Show the WORLD that Ann Arbor has the biggest and best LEGO fans!

More Than Words: For Parents of Children with Autism

As in the past 13 years, More Than Words - A Hanen Program for Parents of Children with Autism will be offered through the Washtenaw Intermediate School District beginning on Tuesday, October 15, 2013.

More Than Words is a family-focused program that was developed to meet the needs of children with social communication difficulties and/or autism spectrum disorder. This program teaches parents of young children (5 and under) practical ways to help their child interact and communicate during everyday activities. Children DO NOT need a diagnosis of ASD, or be involved in other programs or interventions, such as special education, to participate in this program.

The program runs from October 15, 2013 - February 18, 2014 and includes:
* A pre-program orientation on Tuesday, October 15th from 6:00-7:30 pm
* A series of eight parent education/training classes held at the WISD on Tuesday evenings from 6:00-9:00 pm (Oct. 29; Nov. 12, 26; Dec. 10; Jan. 7, 21; Feb. 4, 18)
* A pre-program consultation with a Hanen certified speech-language pathologist
*Three individual consultations for the parents and child with a Hanen certified speech-language pathologist during which:
-communication goals and specific strategies for their child are discussed
-parents are videotaped interacting with their child, so they can "see" what is helping and what else they can do to help their child learn to interact and communicate

Much more information is available at the Hanen website. There is currently no fee for participants. Enrollment is limited to 12 families. Parents can register online or call (734) 994-8100 ext. 1663.

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