As children, my siblings and I often sat mesmerized as we listened to our grandfather spin tales from old Norse legends. Peer Gynt was my favorite character. My sister and I have vivid memories of acting out his journeys --- racing around objects in the living room, our pace frantically increasing while Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King" thundered out of the stereo speakers and the Troll King made his appearance.
About a month ago, my husband I traveled to the Arctic regions of Norway and actually drove through those same alluring Alta Fjord mountains. As the dark washed over our passageway, we found ourselves negotiating hairpin turns through steep, icy, jagged rock formations. It was a wild ride and I was magically transported to those hallways once again. In contemporary terms, I now know how the young boy in Chris Van Allsburg's Polar Express felt as he rode to the North Pole!
Discover the magic yourself this November 21, when the Rochester Boys Choir, in association with the Central Library, performs Robert Kapilow's exciting musical version of The PolarExpress, based on the popular children's book. The choir, along with guest narrator Jens Hinrichsen, will present this well-known holiday story as part of the National Children's Book Week celebration. In addition to the musical, there will be an opportunity for the family to view new children's resources and hear several popular tales read by community members. After the event, participants are invited to stay for milk and cookies, pick up their own Santa's bells, and go on a tour of the Secret Room in the Children's Center!
--- Carolyn Schuler
Barnes and Noble 3349 Monroe Ave. Fri, Nov 5. The Nutcracker, PJ storytime with members of the Rochester City Ballet, 7 p.m. 586-6020
Brighton Memorial Library 2300 Elmwood Ave. Drop-In Storytimes, through Nov 29: Mondays, Tot Time, ages 18 mos.-2 years with caregiver, 10:30 a.m.; Mondays, Pre-K, ages 3-5 with caregiver, 11:30 a.m.; Tuesdays, PJ Storytime, 7 p.m.; Thursdays, Family Storytime, 7 p.m.; Fridays, Toddler, ages 3-4 with caregiver, 10 a.m. | Fri, Nov 5. Friday movie matinee, 3 p.m. | 784-5300, www.brightonlibrary.org
Nightmare Express: The Legend of Black Creek Swamp Thurs-Sun through Nov 7. Choo Choo's, 5138 W Ridge Rd, Spencerport, 7-10 p.m. $8. 352-4422, www.choochoosfun.com
Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County Fridays through Nov 19. Fantastic, funny, favorite stories. 115 South Ave, ages 3-5, 10-10:30 a.m. 428-8150
Memorial Art Gallery Thursdays in November. Preschool creative workshop, art project, story reading, Gallery tour. Ages 2.5-5. 500 University Ave, 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. $15. 473-7720 x 3056
Poetry Workshop Thurs, Nov 4. Writers ages 12-15, All Things Art, 65 South Main St, Canandaigua, 3:30-6 p.m. 396-0087
RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium 657 East Ave. Giant-screen films: Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey: Sat 3 and 8 p.m.; Bears: Wed-Fri 4 p.m., Sat 2 and 4 p.m., Sun 1, 2, 3, 4 p.m. | Laser shows: '70s Laser: Sat 9 p.m.; I See the Sky: Sat 9:30 a.m.; The Sky Tonight: Sat 10:30 a.m. | Tix: $4-$7. 271-1880
Rochester Museum and Science Center 657 East Ave. Sat, Nov 6. Science Saturday, learn fire prevention techniques from Monroe County firefighters, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. | Surprise! It's Science, through May 2005 | Rochester's Frederick Douglass, through January 2006 | Live Science! demos and theater, Wed-Fri 3:30 p.m.; Sat 2, 3, 4 p.m.; Sun 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 p.m. Sat 3 p.m. show sign-interpreted | Ongoing exhibits include: AdventureZone, Carlson Inquiry Room, At the Western Door | Hours: Mon-Sat 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 12-5 p.m. Tix: $5-$7. 271-1880, www.rmsc.org.
Seneca Park Zoo 2222 St Paul St. Hours: daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tix: $5, $4 seniors, $2 kids. 467-9453, www.senecazoo.org
Strong Museum 1 Manhattan Square. Wed, Nov 10. Wednesdays for Tots, music and stories with Mrs. McPuppet. 9:30 a.m. | Arthur's World, through Jan 23 | Long-term exhibits include National Toy Hall of Fame, Can You Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street? and Super Kids Market. Hours: Mon-Thurs 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 12-5 p.m. Tix: $7; $6 seniors, students; $5 children. 263-2700
Picking pumpkins, choosing Halloween costumes, November voting: all are autumn traditions our daughters have participated in their whole lives. They know some opt out of Halloween but were surprised to learn many people don't vote.
My daughters have been voting since toddlerhood. They looked forward to going into the booth with us, swinging the curtain handle, flicking the levers, and getting an "I Voted" sticker. Later, they counted campaign signs in front yards and would announce, "A lot of Republicans live in this neighborhood," and ask, "What does a county court judge do?"
While still too young to vote, they aren't too young to be involved citizens. A few years back, they visited Assemblyman David Koon's office and asked him about standardized testing (they're against it). They've written letters to lawmakers about library funding (they're for it).
This year, they watched the presidential debates with friends. After the teens checked out and commented on the candidates' suits, ties, hair, and posture, they settled in to listen. Laughter and moans were interspersed with, "Did he really just say that?" and "He didn't answer the question, did he?"
Our oldest will be voting for the first time in 2008. I don't know what kind of world she and her friends will inherit, but I'm confident they will continue to be politically active, informed citizens. Raising my children to be participants in this democracy is the most powerful political statement I will ever make.
--- Marjorie Sangster Rolleston