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Family valued 5.18.05

Hit the road with a toad

You gotta love a play that opens with the universal theme of bailing out on spring cleaning to go on a road trip with a driver wholly lacking in impulse control.

This weekend, the Rochester Children's Theatre presents The Wind in the Willows. It's Kenneth Grahame's timeless story of a toad whose "automobile inconveniences" cause him to go from one big house --- Toad Hall --- to another --- prison.

Buckle up! The sound and lighting effects put you in the middle of the action when Toad hits the road and later stows away on a train.

My 9-year-old daughter observed, "Toad is funny and shockingly smart. He thought of ways to trick everybody into doing what he wants them to do." I'm just glad I was the only one taking notes.

Despite his issues, Toad is loved by his friends. With their help, Toad reclaims his home from a pack of weasels and learns the value of friendship.

My daughter was thrilled when cast members danced through the aisles during a couple of songs. The duet sang by the homesick Mole and Rat also grabbed her attention. Like Sandy Cheeks' song "Texas" in the seminal Sponge Bob Squarepants episode addressing homesickness, this number proves love of home and hearth transcends species classification.

The Wind in the Willows will be performed at the Nazareth College Arts Center Saturday and Sunday, May 21 and 22 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10.00 at the box office. Info: www.rochesterchildrenstheatre.org or call 385-0510.

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

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

Charlotte Puppet Apprentices Mon, May 23. evening of puppet stories, Charlotte Branch Library, 7 p.m. 428-8216

Father's Leadership Academy Thursdays, May 26-June 29. Parent Center, 30 Hart St, Rm 126, 6-8 p.m. Free. Register. 262-8456

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

I'm Beautiful Essay Contest for girls ages 11-17. Deadline: May 31. 482-6910

Ivan's Three Wishes Wed, May 18. Catskill Puppet Theater, South Bristol Cultural Center, 5 and 7 p.m. $5. 396-5950

Smoke, Fire and Courage: A Tribute to Rochester's Fire Fighting History Sat, May 21. exhibit, kids activities, fire safety, Rochester Historical Society, 485 East Ave, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. 271-2705

Summer Arts in Action Program Scholarships summer arts camp for ages 4-12, Hochstein School. 454-4596, www.hochstein.org

YMCA Camp Arrowhead Open House Wed, May 18. 20 Arrowhead Rd, Pittsford, 6 p.m. 383-4590

Make them work for it

Until now, I've placed strict limits --- some parents, like my husband, might say insane limits --- on our kids' media viewing. But they might be old enough to see some violence and sexism without being scarred for life. How to relax the rules and save face? I told them to convince me. In writing.

From the 10-year-old: "I should watch The Simpsons for many reasons. I should watch it because it is a very funny and hilarious show. Even though you might think that it is too inappropriate for me, it isn't. I know that because I hear more swears in this house than in 100 seasons of The Simpsons. I also enjoy the theme of a strange family with a kid who has a colorful vocabulary. I like its ingenious role play and funny characters. In conclusion, I think I should be able to watch The Simpsons."

From the 8-year-old: "I think I should watch Independence Day because it will help me come up with ideas for my alien comics. Also, it will help me see the high-tech machinery that the aliens use. If you feel bothered by the little violence I can watch it during the day so I won't have a bad dream. If I do get to watch it, you can cover my eyes at the bad parts."

Both essays are winners. But that doesn't mean I have to rent the movie or turn the TV on right away. Heh-heh...

--- Jennifer Loviglio