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My daughter likes to remind me, "this is the 21st century." That's fine. I just don't want to be limited to this century. Right now I'm crazy about this guy from the 19th: Mark Twain.

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Review

The Adventures ofTom Sawyer

My daughter likes to remind me, "this is the 21st century." That's fine. I just don't want to be limited to this century. Right now I'm crazy about this guy from the 19th: Mark Twain.

            My son and I recently finished Tom Sawyer, and are now reading Huckleberry Finn. Sometimes I have to explain the humor, and then he really laughs. Twain is what my husband calls "a happy cynic." He revels in the lunacy of life but isn't beaten down by it.

            In addition to the humor, I enjoy the adventurous spirits of these characters. Tom and Huck cut school to play pirates, sneak out for nighttime adventures, and run away to an island in the Mississippi.

            Reading these books to a 10-year-old, I realize that my big-city childhood was closer in spirit to Tom Sawyer's than my children's suburban lives are. I had many opportunities to be off on my own, exploring my world.

            I'm not saying children should run away, or bring a dead cat to a cemetery at midnight to cure warts (as Tom and Huck do). Tom and Huck witness a murder, robbery, and drunkenness. I don't advocate that either, but most kids today don't have the freedom to roam and have adventures. Having more unsupervised time or going slightly farther down the block might expand their worlds. Perhaps we all can learn a thing or two from my 19th-century friend.

            The Kennedy Center will bring the musical version of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (Tom, Huck, and Becky are pictured) to Nazareth College's Callahan Theatre, 4245 East Avenue, Saturday, March 27, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. $9. 389-2170, www.naz.edu.

--- Lynn Malooly

This week for families:

Barnes & Noble Greece Storytimes Every Wed, 9:30 and 10:30 a.m.; every Fri 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.; 330 Greece Ridge Center Dr, 227-4020

Barnes & Noble Pittsford Storytimes Every Wed 9:30 and 11 a.m.; every Fri 7 p.m.; 3349 Monroe Ave. 586-6020

Brighton Memorial Library Storytimes Every Mon 10:30 a.m., toddlers; every Mon 11:30 a.m., preschoolers; every Tues 7 p.m., all ages; every Wed 3:30 p.m., ages 5-7; Every Thurs 7 p.m., families; Every Fri 10:30 a.m., ages 2-4. | 2300 Elmwood Ave, 784-5300

Brother Bear Party Tues, Mar 30. Media Play, Southtown Plaza, 3333 W Henrietta Rd, 5 p.m. 292-5700

Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryThurs-Sun through Mar 28. Performed by the Rochester Academy of Performing Arts, 727 East Main St, Thurs-Sat 7 p.m., Sun 2 p.m. Tix: $10, $7 kids. 325-3366, www.rapaonline.org.

Cool Kids Thurs, Mar 25. Airplane-making workshop, The Forum, Genesee Community College, One College Rd, Batavia, 7-8 p.m. Free. 637-3984

Helmer Nature Center Sat, Mar 27, Maple Sugar Open House, trail walks, demonstrations, maple treats, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. | Sun, Mar 28, Pancake Breakfast, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tix: $5. | Helmer Nature Center, 154 Pinegrove Ave, Irondequoit, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 336-3035

It's a Kid's Life!Thurs, Mar 25. Musical performed by kids, Moonbeam2earth Project, Holy Rosary Elementary School, 420 Lexington Ave, 7 p.m. Tix: $3. 381-8779, www.moonbeam2earth.org.

Pancakes and Rock 'n' Roll Sat, Mar 27. Breakfast with Moonbeam2earth Project, Faith Childcare and Nursery, 2576 Browncroft Blvd, 10 a.m. Tix: $4, $2.50 kids. 381-8779

Parent-Caregiver Relationships: Marriage Without the Vows Wed, Mar 24. Rochester Association for the Education of Young Children, Cornell Cooperative Extension Bldg, 249 Highland Ave, 7 p.m. Free.

Phillis Wheatley Community Library Storytimes Every Thurs. For preschoolers, 33 Dr. Samuel McCree Way, 10:30 a.m. 428-8212

RPO Instrument Petting Zoo Sat, Mar 27. For ages 4-7, Henrietta Public Library, 455 Calkins Rd, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Free. 359-7093

Seneca Park Zoo 2222 St. Paul St.Book and Beast, Wed, Mar 24, 11 a.m.| Tix: $5. 467-9453

Soy Unica! Soy Latina! Sat, Mar 27. Activities and workshops for Latinas ages 9-14, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School, 485 N Clinton Ave, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. 546-1271 ext 227

Strong Museum One Manhattan Square. Ragtime, Cakewalks, and Traditional Jazz, Wed, Mar 24, the Making American Music series, music by the Smugtown Stompers, 7:30 p.m. Tix: $12. | Yelena's Yuntov Puppet Theatre, Sun, Mar 28, 1 and 3 p.m. Tix: $7, $5 kids. | 263-2700, www.strongmuseum.org.

Information on museum exhibits can be found in the calendar's Museum section.

Bugs and drugs

Fevers, colds, sore throats, and rashes cause kids to feel bad, lose sleep, miss school, and worry their parents. Their parents worry about how these illnesses are transmitted and the overuse of antibiotics to treat them. There are two myths about these subjects worth clearing up.

            Diseases are not contagious, germs are. We all live in teeming colonies of viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Often helpful, these germs sometimes exploit weaknesses in our immune systems and battles ensue. Those battles are what we experience as infectious diseases. Because children have naïve immune systems, they have more fights with germs. The resulting ear infection, sore throat, bronchitis, or rash is not contagious. The germs are. What kids do with the germ determines their symptoms. Infectious diseases have more to do with how we deal with the germ than the germ itself.

            Antibiotics do not weaken immunity. It is not true that when we use antibiotics to help fight the germs in a child, her body won't learn how to defend itself. Antibiotics simply limit germs' growth. Immune systems do the vital work of destroying germs and cleaning up the infections. Without strong immune defenses, antibiotics do not work.

            On the other hand, our immune systems are weakened by stress, sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise. Teaching kids to wash their hands and to eat, sleep, and exercise well is most of what limiting infectious disease is about.

--- Laurence I. Sugarman, MD

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