How would you feel if you were a rock, and why do you think Sylvester is a donkey? These questions and more will be addressed at a unique program called the Picture Book Circle, a series of picture-book readings for children at the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley. The Magnes, a museum of Jewish cultural heritage, hosts the program for children aged four to eight and their families. Art historian Dr. Ellen Handler Spitz, author of Inside Picture Books (Yale University, 1999), is the creator of this interactive art and educational program. She has used her expertise in children's books, child psychology, and Jewish culture to select some well-known titles that you probably never realized were written by Jewish authors. They include Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Pierre, and even Dr. Seuss' classic Horton Hatches the Egg. The books are not necessarily Jewish in theme, but offer a rare opportunity to stimulate the imagination, to learn about Jewish values, and to enjoy the fine art of the picture book. Activities such as drawing, music, and dramatization will be an added bonus.
Get your kids excited about both art and literature while basking in the tree-lined glory of 2911 Russell Street. The program begins on Sunday at 2 p.m., and runs until April 4. The six-week program costs $50 per child for members and $60 for nonmembers. For more information, visit JudahMagnesMuseum.org or call 510-549-6950. -- Amrita Sidhu
Manners? What's that?
Come on now, parents. You may not want to talk about it, but you'll feel better if you do. Admit it. Do the kids make a mess every time they sit down at the dinner table, then refuse to clean it up? Do their feeding habits remind you of that summer you spent interning at the zoo? Do they slurp when they should sip, and burp when they ought to say "Please pass the potatoes"? If you answered yes to any of the above, pile the young'uns into the Family Truckster this Sunday (10 a.m. to noon) and get them over to the Wente Vineyards Restaurant in Livermore for Kids in the Dining Room. In a slight bit of wishful thinking, Wente is promoting what is essentially a lesson in table manners for children ages eight to twelve. They'll learn which fork to use, the proper tone of voice at the table, and other accoutrements of gracious living. Parents may want to listen in, too. Tickets are $25 per child, $20 for Wente Vineyard Club members. The restaurant is located at 5050 Arroyo Rd., Livermore. Reservations can be made at 925-456-2402. General information about Wente: www.wentevineyards.com -- Kelly Vance
Aiki-jujitsu is reportedly one of Japan's oldest martial arts. It's now available in a program of Martial Arts for Kids taught by the Sennin Foundation Center for Japanese Cultural Arts in Albany, 1053 San Pablo Ave. Kids five and up can learn Japanese yoga as well as martial arts in a series of noncompetitive, personalized classes, beginning March 1, Monday through Thursday afternoons. The first month is free with the purchase of a $22 uniform. Preregistration required. Info: 510-526-7518. -- Kelly Vance
Lucky Ducky, Looky
It's Dr. Seuss' 100th Birthday
And what would you do ... if you met a Jibboo? Find out Monday at 1 p.m. at the M.L. King Jr. Branch of the Oakland Public Library, when the Dr. Seuss 100th Birthday Party begins. Old Mr. Sneelock, the Cat in the Hat, Waldo Woo, Horton, the Circus McGurkus troupe, Things One through infinity, the Lorax, the Fox in Socks, and all the other lovable Ted "Dr. Seuss" Geisel characters will be there -- at least on the page and in spirit. Monday's celebration continues at 6:30 p.m. at the Piedmont Avenue Branch, with eleven more stops at branch libraries through March 16. Storyteller Jenny Makofsky will entertain at many of them. For more information, visit OaklandLibrary.org -- Kelly Vance
Culture Spy - December 8, 6:10 PM
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What the Fork - November 15, 1:37 PM