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Family valued - 12.14.05 

'A Year With Frog and Toad'

This weekend, enjoy some good company before the relatives descend. Check out Rochester Children's Theatre's production of A Year with Frog and Toad.

Those guys are welcome at my house anytime. Especially Toad. I sensed we were kindred spirits when Toad bludgeoned his alarm clock after it wakes him from hibernation. Several scenes later, as the other critters belt out "Toad Looks Funny in a Bathing Suit," my suspicions were confirmed.

If you're familiar with the Arnold Lobel books upon which this Broadway musical is based, you know Frog and Toad are friends. If not, you'll pick up on their friendship well before Frog serenades Toad with "unless you are happy, I cannot be." No need to worry about codependency issues. This is children's theater. Messages include appreciating what you have, self-acceptance, and consideration for others.

Kids 4 and up will delight in following Frog and Toad through the seasons, as they enjoy activities kids love, too. When their friendship is threatened by a sledding mishap, a hilarious mail-carrying snail saves the day.

Nine-year-old Julia says, "There are lots of funny parts, like when they throw cookies all over. And you can meet the actors after the show." Unlike Santa, they give autographs.

A Year with Frog and Toad runs approximately 90 minutes including a brief intermission. Snacks available.Continues December 17 and 18 at 2 p.m. at the NazarethCollegeArtsCenter, 4245 East Avenue.Tickets $12 at the box office. For info, go to www.rochesterchildrenstheatre.org or call 385-0510.

--- Linda Kostin, www.junkstorecowgirl.com


This week for families:

Rochester Area Children's Writers Book Signing Event Sat, Dec 17. Barnes & Noble, 3349 Monroe Ave. 2 p.m. 586-6020, www.bn.com


Talkin' mortality blues

"Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray." --- Dylan Thomas

Death puts a real crimp in your day. The other night, my wife and I were watching that noir-ish chestnut, The Big Heat. The plot hinges on the murder of the wife of Glen Ford's ace detective hero. (It's only a story, people!) Ford is left a fine, upstanding widower with a young daughter. While he pursues the case, his daughter is left with her doting aunt and uncle. Ohhh, and she's told that her mother has just gone away on a trip up north. She should be back anytime. It is a luxury in this world to distance ourselves and our loved ones from death.

Fifty years after The Big Heat was released, we faced a similar dilemma of explaining death to our young child as we faced the loss of a close relative. Helping determine our approach was the fact that we assisted in providing end-of-life care. We sought advice from child-care workers, clerics, and many books. Older texts parroted the denials of death that were so odd in a generation that survived World War II (although maybe not). Contemporary books emphasize direct discussion of the facts of the end of life.

So, we grieved in front of our child. We talked about the life cycle (birth, maturity, reproduction, seniority, death) and how everyone does not live through all stages of the cycle. We talked about finding spiritual comfort where our hearts, minds, and souls allowed. In the end, I stood in the alcove of the funeral home, helping my son with his decision to visit the open casket in the next room. Later, we stepped outside and numbered our lost loved ones among the stars.

--- Craig Brownlie

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