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Fall Arts Preview - Kid's Stuff 

by Ann McGregor & r & Those shorter days mean only one thing to parents: lots more time cooped up in the house with their offspring. But there are plenty of opportunities to keep kids happy until they can play outside till bedtime again -- and they may even learn a thing or two.


The Spokane Art School offers an after-school art sampler where kids get a chance to experiment with a wide range of cool materials. Each medium will be explored for two class sessions, Friday and the following Thursday from 4-6 pm. The first session involves clay; then it's painting, sculpture and, finally, mixed media. Courses begin Sept. 16 and each two-part class costs $28 (though the clay class is $33). Try one medium or all four!


KPBX always has an intriguing lineup of kids' concerts, and this year is no exception. On Oct. 8 at River Park Square, kids will be asking for their Mamas -- the Bluegrass Mamas, that is. They will be joined by Ruby Devine and Linda Parman with Don Thomsen for a concert titled "Women and American Music." On Nov. 19 at the Met, the Guitar Wizards -- Ken Glastre, Rob Vaughn and Pat Barclay -- will entrance youngsters. And on Dec. 17 at Auntie's, the Miller's Tale will perform songs and stories in honor of the Winter Solstice.


In spite of layoffs and reduced hours, Spokane Public Libraries have lots of reasons to be proud of 100 years of service. Parties will be celebrated at the library's many branches from 3-5 pm (Shadle, Sept. 15; Hillyard, Sept. 21; South Hill, Sept. 22; and East Side, Sept. 23), and there will be a party on Sept. 17 from 1-3 pm at the Downtown library. In October, the libraries gear up for Halloween with "Stories to Make You Jump." In November, look for Children's Book Week. And in December, get your bears dressed up for Teddy Bear Teas. Also in December for school age children, the libraries will host Narnia parties to tie in with the movie release of the C.S. Lewis tale, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.


Knock, knock ... Anyone who has been around a kid for any length of time will know they have a great fondness for not-very-good jokes. ComedySportz promises to take kids' humor to new heights on the third Saturday of every month, starting Sept. 17, with special shows just for kids.


Everyone knows movies are struggling to compete with television and DVDs, but the world of live theater is not only more exciting, it is -- with the exception of The Lion King -- amazingly affordable. So grab some season tickets to the many children's offerings and treat yourself to some real live entertainment.


"Please, sir, may I have some more?" The Christian Youth Theater will present the musical based on Dickens' classic tale of Oliver Twist and his quest for life's necessities at the Met on Nov. 4-6 and Nov. 12. And for the first time, the group will present a non-musical drama, The Velveteen Rabbit on Nov. 18-20 at Life Center Central.


Theater Arts for Children is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and a move into a new theater at the Spokane Valley Community Center. This group requires that children new to theater be cast in every production and strives to make auditions as low-key as possible. Ticket prices are just $4 per show, or $17 for the whole season of five plays. The group will perform an encore of The Three Bears at ValleyFest, Sept. 23-25. The regular season opens with My Name is Rumplestiltskin, which runs Oct. 15-30. Next comes Through the Storybook, Dec. 3-18.


The Spokane Children's Theater will produce the Inland Northwest Premiere of a new musical, Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business (weekends Oct. 8-23 at Spokane Community College). And the perennial favorite, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Nov. 25-Dec. 17) will fill the stage at the Spokane Civic Theater. Season tickets for adults and children are just $25.


"What I really want to do is direct..." A new offering from the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department gives kids (ages 7-12) a chance to work together to create and present an original play. "Play Makers" starts Oct. 4 and runs for four weeks at Browne Elementary. For those longing to express themselves in song, "Sing from the Heart for Teens" runs for six weeks at the Manito United Methodist Church starting Oct. 5. For teenagers 13 to 17, there's a poetry course to be held for five weeks at Adams Elementary starting Oct. 4. The department also offers lots of dance and music appreciation classes geared to the younger set.


The Beasley Coliseum in Pullman hosts a Missoula Children's Theater production of The Jungle Book on Oct. 1 and the Royal Circus of Moscow (presumably the one in Russia, not over in Idaho) on Ice on Nov. 10.


Speaking of circuses, P.T. Barnum started out selling tickets to curiosities that included an embalmed alleged mermaid. He didn't even get into the circus business until he was 60 -- and there's no proof he ever said there's a sucker born every minute. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't take the young'uns to see his namesake circus when it comes to the Spokane Arena (Oct. 13-16). The new Hometown Edition features an All-Access preshow. Starting one hour before showtime, ticketholders can meet the performers, get autographs and learn about the performing animals. "Nothing is off limits as you roam freely behind the curtain to get an up-close-and-personal look at what goes on behind the scenes," proclaims the Web site. This is a one-ring circus, with special VIP floor seating offering up-close views and the ability to be "touchably close" to the action. (In our Calendar section, on page 47, we mistakenly referred to the other touring version, which features the clown Bello, who was here four years ago.)


The Museum of Arts and Culture hosts Family MACfest on Oct. 8 from noon-3 pm. This year's theme is "Trapping, Trading and Trailblazing." Young explorers will have a chance to create fur trade-era items, make maps and watch a demonstration of a sextant, as well as its more modern counterpart, the GPS. For children 12 and older, a one-man play called York, based on the life of William Clark's slave, will be presented at 3:30 pm.


Fish on ice usually has a distinctly negative connotation -- especially if you're the fish. But the sweet story of Nemo and his father Marlin overcoming all obstacles to be reunited is brought to life in Disney on Ice's production of Finding Nemo at the Spokane Arena from Nov. 30-Dec. 4.


After starring in one of the most memorable movies about exploration of the moon, Tom Hanks has produced Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon. Using previously unseen photographs, computer-generated imagery of the lunar surface and newly released NASA footage, the IMAX film promises to give earth-bound viewers the sense of taking that one giant step for mankind. The film opens Sept. 23. And bespectacled literary sensation Harry Potter will grow larger than even his wildest dreams as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire fills the IMAX screen starting Nov. 18.

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