The Fratello Marioettes return to the Larkspur Library with their exciting holiday show The North Pole Review! This fun free family performance takes place on Monday, December 20 at 4 pm. This puppet extravaganza features a juggling penguin, a Brazilian ice-skating snowman, the Hawaiian singing sensation the Hi-Fi Sisters, and more.
We attended the show last year, where the audience ranged from babies to grade school aged children, and everyone had a great time. The show got pretty crowded, though, which is probably why you need to call the Larkspur Library this year at (415) 927-5005 to reserve your space. You'll be glad you did!
The Larkspur Library is located in downtown Larkspur at 400 Magnolia Avenue. For more information or to RSVP for the show, call (415) 927-5005. You can also visit them online at www.larkspurlibrary.org.
Come and find all your holiday gifts at Appel and Frank's Stockings & Stilettos shopping event on Wednesday, December 8, from 5 to 9 pm at the Regency Center's Sutter Room, 1270 Sutter Street (at Van Ness) in San Francisco. There will be variety of unique gifts from more than 70 talented designers at discounted prices. Shop for fabulous jewelry, clothing, accessories while enjoying complimentary wine, beauty services, goodie bags, and a raffle.
Admission is normally $10, but Marin Mommies readers can them at the special price of $7 with the code MARINMOMMIES at www.appelandfrank.com or at the door. Secure your goodie bag by purchasing your tickets online (quantities are limited).
Fans of Jane O'Connor's popular series of Fancy Nancy books won't be surprised to learn that Nancy considers Christmas to be a splendiferous time of year. Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas(32 pages, HarperCollins, 2009) follows its fancy character through the holiday season as she makes cookies, decorates the tree (too much tinsel? No way!), goes caroling, and awaits the arrival of her beloved grandfather.
Tragedy of sorts strikes when Nancy insists on putting her prized fancy tree topper on the Christmas tree. But all is made well with a little help from Grandpa. With colorful and appropriately fancy illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser, Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas will appeal to its target preschool through first grade audience, who may even pick up a few new vocabulary words after reading this book.
Writer and illustrator Loren Long's Drummer Boy (40 pages Philomel, 2008) is a fresh take on a classic holiday story. The harrowing journey of the titular character, a little toy drummer boy, serves to both affirm the Christmas spirit and to tug on the heartstrings. The toy drummer boy appears mysteriously on a child's doorstep before Christmas. He's accidentally tossed in the trash, and undergoes an arduous, sometimes frightening journey to reunite with the child. All the while he plays his drum, which seems to have a calming and reassuring effect on all whom he meets.
Long's paintings are colorful and luminous, and help draw you into the simple heartwarming story. Our children, ages 4-1/2 and 7, loved the book, but some parts—including the appearance of a big rat, a hungry owl, and the abandonment of the frightened drummer boy in the cold snowy weather—might be a little scary for younger or more sensitive kids. Ultimately, there's a happy ending with an inspiring holiday message. We think it's a Christmas classic! Find Drummer Boy at your library, or buy it from your local bookstore or Amazon.com.
Olivia, everyone's favorite precocious piglet, lends her family a hand in preparing for Christmas in Ian Falconer's hysterical Olivia Helps with Christmas (58 pages, Atheneum, 2007). You'll probably recognize a few of your family's holiday traditions among the ones that Olivia helps hers with (and "help" doesn't necessarily mean "being helpful", which most parents already know…). Untangling Christmas lights, trimming the tree, leaving a snack for Santa Claus, and of course impatiently awaiting Santa's impending arrival are all covered here.
Naturally, this Olivia book wouldn't be an Olivia book without our porcine protagonist's antics such as feeding baby brother William blueberry pie (with messy results), amazingly finding a perfect little table-top Christmas tree, and recoiling in horror as her father prepares to build a fire in the fireplace and potentially roast Santa!
Every parent knows that finding a truly great toy can be a challenge, especially when you're trying to find one that's not only fun, but educational as well. For this 2010 holiday season the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) has again helped take the guesswork out of toy shopping by compiling their annual Best Toys for Kids list! Nominated and voted on by the toy experts who are members of the ASTRA, the list of winners features a wide variety of toys for just about every age group imaginable. There's an emphasis here on good old-fashioned imaginitive play and fun, so you can feel good about buying these for your children.
We're also happy to see some local companies represented here, like Emeryville's Folkmanis Puppets and San Francisco's Green Toys, Inc.
Presenting a guest article by Mill Valley parent educator Julie King and co-author Joanna Faber. It's especially relevant for this time of year! You can learn more about Julie and her services, workshops, and presentations at www.julieking.org.
Have your kids been known to announce, upon opening a gift in front of the gift-giver, “I already have this one. You should’ve gotten me the other kind!”? Many of us have had kids burst into tears upon opening a gift, or angrily declare "I don't like this," causing great distress to the startled giver and great embarrassment to the hapless parent.
It can be hard not to be horrified by such unseemly behavior, or to question our own parenting, worrying that we’ve brought up greedy, spoiled brats. The urge is to punish them, to take things they value away from them, or to lecture them about all the less-fortunate children in the world. However satisfying these tactics may seem, though, none of them tend to create the grateful child of our dreams.
If you live in Novato or spend time there, especially around the holidays, you can't help but notice the beautiful horse-drawn carriages traversing the length of Grant Avenue, and making their way around town in search of the most magnificent holiday light displays. These classy but decidedly old-fashioned vehicles are owned and operated by Novato resident Gary Sello and his Indian Valley Carriage Company. If you're looking for a family outing in Marin that is truly unique, fun, and stress-free, then you should consider the offerings of Indian Valley Carriage.
Based in Novato's rural Indian Valley neighborhood, Gary and Indian Valley Carriage operate several different carriages, including a formal black and maroon vis-à-vis (where up to six passengers sit facing each other), a three-seat surrey (with a fringe on top!) that can carry four to six passengers, and a large covered wagon that seats up to twelve.
Kids can create a holiday heirloom for your family at one of Studio 4 Art's great hands-on workshops this season.
On Saturday, November 20, create your own clay ornaments from 10 am to noon. Use Studio 4 Art's wide selection of tools, footprints, handprints, and even dog prints to make unique and beautiful holiday ornaments. $20 cost includes 2 pounds of clay, firing, and glazes. Additional clay available for an additional cost. This workshop is suitable for participants ages 2 to adult.
By popular demand, Studio 4 Art will hold a second clay gingerbread house workshop on Saturday, November 27 from 10 am to noon. Construct a gingerbread house that will last a lot longer this holiday season—make it out of clay! This workshop has become a holiday tradition at the studio, and it's a fun project to work on as a family. Workshop costs $40 and is for ages 5–adult. Gingerbread houses will be fired in their kiln; you can come back and paint yours with glaze for no additional charge.
Studio 4 Art is located in downtown Novato at 1133 Grant Avenue, at 2nd Street. For more information on these and other workshops and creative activities, call them at (415) 596-5546 or visit www.studio4art.net.