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Archive for May, 2008

LIBRARY STORY LINES: They do serve a purpose despite X-rated hack

Boy, talk about a misdirected attack. Readers commenting on this story, X-rated content infiltrates Benicia library’s story line for kids, are criticizing parents for substituting dial-in storytelling for books.

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Posted on Tuesday, May 27th, 2008
Under: Books, Parenting Issues | No Comments »

SUMMER Reading Buzz

Summer’s just around the corner, and every library and indie book store is swinging into high gear, eager to keep young brains occupied with something other than swim team or Mario Kart. Scholastic’s getting in on the action too with Summer Reading Buzz, a website devoted to book inspirations, recommendations and philanthropy. For every four books your youngster logs, Scholastic donates one book to a child in need. Fun, huh? We took a browse through the recommended reading lists and they’re full of great kid lit suggestions. Here’s just a sampling:

Grades 3-5:
The Calder Game by Blue Balliett
Castaways of the Flying Dutchman
by Brian Jacques
Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls by Meg Cabot
Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M. M. Blume
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Posted on Tuesday, May 27th, 2008
Under: Books | No Comments »

GET Thee to a Campfire

Summer campLanyards, s’mores, Hamlet … here’s a twist on summer camp offerings. The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival is hosting two-week day camps in Alameda, Berkeley, Fremont, Piedmont, Pleasanton, San Ramon and Walnut Creek this summer. The camps, which include drama coaching, stagecraft and a full Shakespearean production, meet from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, with sessions for kids ages 7-13 and for teens. Big fun with the Bard.

If your kid is really into thespian pursuits, you might also want to try Cal Shakes’ summer offerings, which include a five-week conservatory session in Lafayette, a condensed two-week session in Oakland, and two-week camps for beginning dramateurs in El Cerrito and Oakland. Get thee onstage!

Posted on Tuesday, May 27th, 2008
Under: Kids & Tweens | No Comments »

PARENT TALKS: 10 Great Dates & More

Bird bee OK, we take back what we said last week. There are still loads of parenting workshops ahead, including several you can listen to in your jammies, and another with the intriguing title “10 Great Dates” – with your spouse! Here’s the line-up:

“Loving Your Single Parent or Step Family”
May 30 at 7 p.m. at the Residence Inn, Pleasanton.
Speaker: Donald R. Partridge, author of “Loving Your Stepfamily: The Art of Making Your Blending Family Work.” Sponsored by the Institute for Family Research and Education. Free.

“Childhood Matters”
June 1 at 9 a.m. on 98.1 KISS-FM and 105.1 KOCN-FM
Childhood Matters’ Rona Renner and panelists talk about parenting issues every Sunday morning.

“10 Great Dates”
June 20-Aug. 29 from 7 to 9:15 p.m.at Danville’s Community Presbyterian Church
A 10-week series designed to energize marriages and strengthen families. Couples meet every Friday night for light hor d’ oeuvres and a 20-minute video on such topics as parenting, communication, becoming an encouraging spouse and building a creative love life. There’s childcare for kids in 1st through 5th grades (babysitting vouchers available for younger kids), and after the video, you’re supposed to take your spouse to dinner – they’re even providing discount vouchers for Valley restaurants – to reconnect on a deeper level. Sponsored by the Marriage and Family Ministry of the church, but they says it’s not “churchy.” (One time charge of $15 per couple plus $10 for the book.)
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Posted on Monday, May 26th, 2008
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

TOY RECALLS: Magnets AND Lead Paint

Recalled magnets Recalled magnets are back in the news, not because they’re tearing holes through people’s intestines. Nope, this time around, it’s a recall of 2.3 million lead-painted magnets, made by United Scientific and commonly used in science classrooms. The Consumer Product Safety folks also issued half a dozen other recalls this week, including another 87,000 science magnets (made by American Scientific), and an assortment of random things including Tinkerbell wands and Pirates of the Caribbean sleeping bags (and yes, we know it’s weird – you’ll think it’s even weirder when you discover the lead paint offender is the zipper pull). Click here for the full recall line-up.

Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2008
Under: Toy Recalls | No Comments »

FAB FIVE: Keeping Young Athletes Healthy

College Basketball, Tennessee vs Stanford 2008 (MCT Direct)
Baseball season’s winding down – or rather sliding full speed into championships – and rec swimming, water polo and summer sports camps are revving up, and those achy knees, slipping shoulders and jammed fingers just keep going, don’t they? So, here’s a Fab Five list to help keep young athletes healthy and injury-free, with a little help from St. Louis University’s director of athletic training education Tony Breitbach:

1. Doublecheck the equipment. Kids grow fast, so gear that fit perfectly last year may be too small now. “Ill-fitting shoes can be an especially big problem,” says Breitbach. “Last summer’s baseball cleats will likely not be right for this summer.” And protective equipment – cups, helmets, shin guards – must fit properly to protect.

2. Watch the diet – low fat, lean protein and complex carbohydrates – and hydration. Athletes need lots of complex carbs – what Breitbach calls “high-energy foods” – right before and after a game or workout. And water, water, water. “People place way too much emphasis on energy and sports drinks,” he says, “hen good cool water will do just fine. Don’t give him a bottle of water for a long game. A jug would be better.”
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Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2008
Under: Fab Five, Health & Safety, Sports | No Comments »

GOOGLE Doodle Winner

Grace Moon, Google Doodle Winner (Oakland Tribune)
Oh, hey! You know how we mentioned the Doodle for Google contest last week and ran one of the finalists’ images? Well, that was the winning doodle and the artist is Castro Valley middle schooler Grace Moon, who won not only fame, glory and the Google homepage yesterday, but a $10,000 scholarship and laptop, plus a $25,000 computer equipment grant for her school. Very, very cool. Congrats, Grace!

Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2008
Under: Technology & Video Games | 4 Comments »

TRIALS, Tribulations and McHenry’s Son

lunchbox Such bizarre school news these days… We’ve got DUIs in a Pinole cafeteria, British exam answers on the test sheet, and a truly odd spectacle at a Mt. Diablo board meeting. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Pinole Valley High’s cafeteria was the site of a DUI trial this week. Yes, really. Alarmed by the drunk driving statistics – 30 percent of us will be in an alcohol-related car crash someday – the county’s doing a “DUI Court in the Schools” program with actual drunk driving trials, complete with superior court judge, DA, public defender and defendant, at Richmond High, Concord’s Olympic High, and now Pinole. Kinda cool, no?

The cash-strapped John Swett school district is paying a pretty penny to oust its superintendent – nearly $60,000 plus health benefits for the next five and a half years. Why? Relations between supe and board turned icy last year after trustees began questioning whether Michael Roth, who leads the 1,700-student district and oversees its $13 million budget, had inserted salary hikes into his business manager’s contract without board approval. Hmmmm, why does that sound so familiar?

Oh. Right. Speaking of which, things have gotten so hairy for Mt. Diablo schools superintendent Gary McHenry that … well …  his family showed up at a board meeting to plead his case.
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Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
Under: Schools | No Comments »

COURT RULES state wrong to remove polygamist sect children

sectAn appeals court in Texas has ruled that child welfare officials had no right to remove the children of 48 mothers from a polygamist sect in April. The state took custody of 464 children after allegations of sexual abuse surfaced. The court essentially has ruled that the children were not in immediate danger and that a court hearing should have been held before removing them from the sect’s Texas ranch. (Read more about the story here.) It’s unclear when or if the children will be returned to their mothers.

The startling number of underage mothers in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has turned this into a sensationalized story. The moms, often soft-spoken and evasive, pleaded for the return of their children on national television. Pundits on both sides of the issue weighed in. And no matter how this situation turns out, it’s hard to believe anyone can really come out a winner. What do you think — is polygamy, even with underage girls, a religious right or a call for action to remove these underage girls from the sect?

Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
Under: Other | No Comments »

FAB FIVE for the Weekend

Mars landing 1. Fire and ice? NASA Ames Research Center and Oakland’s Crucible celebrate an inter-galactic celebration of fire, ice and Mars landings this Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., just as NASA’s real spacecraft, the Phoenix, touches down on the Red Planet. Drive a simulated Mars rover, watch the live NASA telecast from Phoenix mission control, play Mars pinball and check out the fire and ice art demos. (Free)

2. It’s Pleasant Hill’s Sprayground grand opening! Join in the fun Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Pleasant Hill Aquatic Park, 147 Gregory Lane. (Free)

3. Go Greek at the annual Marin Greek Festival in Ignacio this weekend – souvlaki, spanakopita, dancing, music all weekend from noon to 10 p.m. at the Nativity of Christ Greek Orthodox Church. ($5 adults, kids 12 and under are free, 415-883-1998)
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Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
Under: Family Outings | No Comments »