Jr. Card Room 

Gotta know when to hold 'em

FRI 8/15

Trading cards, whether they're from the games Magic: The Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh, are mysterious to most parents. But for hundreds of thousands of children, these card games vividly drive their imaginations and absorb their time with friends. With individual card names such as "Ancient One of the Forest" and strategies that enable players to acquire power, do damage to opponents, invoke sorcery, and, in some cases, win cards, it's no wonder kids get hooked. Josh Lachman, children's librarian at the Central Berkeley Public Library, has been watching Magic's magic in action. "We have some regular card players who come to the children's room and play," he explains. So the idea presented itself to plan an afternoon aimed at card-playing middle-school children. On Friday, August 15 at 2 p.m., in the children's room, kids are invited to come in, get cards as door prizes, play with others, and leave with something with a bit more text in it -- anime and other "graphic books," as librarians like to call them.

The underlying thinking is that just as magic cards are portals to imagined worlds, so is the library. But the strategy is practical, as well. "We wanted to get kids into the library in a structured program so we can connect with them," Lachman says. This is destined to be a win-win situation for everyone. -- Ann Murphy

SAT 8/16

Drop-In Art

Right-brain workout

Late summer, as the Richmond Art Center's seasonal exhibitions are winding down, is a good time to pay a visit to the longtime East Bay community arts institution (founded 1936) and "give your right brain a workout." Saturday afternoon from 2 to 5 p.m., the center's annual Family Day and Open House offers lots of supervised art activities for kids, and adults, to do. Drop into the various art studios, see demonstrations, and meet instructors and students. View young artists' work in ceramics, painting, jewelry making, weaving, and printmaking. You can also catch the current exhibits in the galleries just before they come down. The event is free and open to the public, at 2540 Barrett Ave. (corner of 25th St.) in Richmond. For more information, call 510-620-6772 or visit www.therac.org -- Kelly Vance

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