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Family valued 6.15.05

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'The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D'

We loved this movie, but many won't. First, the 3-D is mostly pointless. "I watched almost the whole thing without the glasses," Lila (8) says. Second, it has hopelessly cheesy moments, and sap is thicker than a pine tree's. So what's to like?

First, it's a true family movie. Iris, my 6-year-old, pronounced it "the best movie ever" (crystals and hearts figure prominently). Robert Rodriquez wrote it with his 8-year-old son, Racer, and the story has the free-spiritedness of children's musings. There is convention in the emotional arc, but there are wildly unexpected and fun turns of plot throughout.

But it isn't just that it's silly and appealing to kids. My wife and I found it relentlessly entertaining, moving, and positive in terms of values. We believe in the transformative power of creativity and imagination, and Shark Boy is as strong a paean to those forces as we've seen in years. Lava Girl tells us that "everything that is or was started with a dream," and the film goes from there.

"It's about a boy (Max) who gets teased because he imagines things," Lila says. "But you should still imagine things, because it's fun." Lila also liked the portrayal of Max's inner life. "Lava Girl was like Max's quiet side," she explains. "Shark Boy was his active side."

The film goes farther about imagination, showing how we can dream in dangerous and foolish ways, and in ways that hurt others. You might hate it, but for a goofy, imaginative, and sappy family like ours, it's a winner.

--- Adam Wilcox


This week for families

Brighton Memorial Library storytimes: Mondays 10 a.m. (ages 3-4), 10:30 a.m. (ages 1-2.5); Thursdays 7 p.m. (families) | 2300 Elmwood Avenue. 784-5300, www.brightonlibrary.org

Fatherhood Initiative of Rochester City School District Fri, June 17: Fathers' Conference, James Madison High School, 200 Genesee St, 6-9:30 p.m. 262-8456 | Sat, June 18: Family Picnic, Ontario Beach Park, Charlotte, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fatherhood Banquet, Rick's Prime Rib, 898 Buffalo Rd, 8 p.m. 235-2420

Fathers' Leadership Academy Thursdays, through June 29. Parent Center, 30 Hart St, 6-8 p.m. Free. 262-8456.

Henrietta Public Library storytimes: Wednesdays 10:30 a.m. (preschool). 455 Calkins Rd. 359-7092

Jewish Communty ZOO-Fest Thurs, June 16. Seneca Park Zoo, 2222 St Paul St, 6-8:30 p.m. $4, $2 kids. (more for dinner). www.jewishrochester.org, 461-0490

Young Visionaries Awards Program applications due by June 30, Rochester Museum & Science Center, 657 East Ave, rmsc.org


Girl, you'll be a woman soon

My daughter's 9. Sure, she's still playing with Polly Pockets. But we all know that won't last.

So I'm ramping up for The Talk. But as scary as that is, the real challenge will be helping her navigate the emotional perils of adolescence. How will my daughter feel if she's the first among her friends to get her period? The last? What if she doesn't need a training bra by sixth grade? What if she's in a C cup by seventh grade? What if boys think she's ugly? What if her friends ask her to do silly things?

Like many adults, all I can remember of my own early adolescence is a handful of embarrassing moments. Thankfully, there's an author who honestly and vividly captures day-to-day life for girls ages 11 to 13. Someone who can remind us what girls this age think and feel.

This summer, I'm re-reading Judy Blume's Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret before passing it along to my daughter. This groundbreaking novel, released in 1970, made a huge impact when I read it as a 10-year-old. As the title implies, 11-year-old Margaret views God as a confidant with whom she can share her hopes and fears. One of her friends is on the physical maturity fast track. Another matures more slowly. Margaret is somewhere in the middle. While this may seem contrived to adults, I remember it was very comforting. The message is all girls are normal. Or better yet, there is no such thing as normal.

--- Linda Kostin (www.junkstorecowgirl.com)

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