The “Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum” provides opportunities for kids to experiment with new sounds and vocabulary. SUBMITTED PHOTO BY SPRINGFIELD MUSEUMS

Two offbeat museums highlight picture books

On a recent road trip — with young grandchildren in tow — our family had the chance to check out two terrific museums that will be of particular interest to those who love children’s picture books. Both are located in the same area in Massachusetts and both are worth a visit if you’re planning to be anywhere in the vicinity.

“The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum” opened early this summer. It’s geared to the little ones, but also includes a section devoted to the author/illustrator himself — Springfield native Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1984, three Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards, three Grammy Awards, and three Caldecott Honors, Geisel wrote and illustrated over 45 books for children. If you have kids or grandkids, you can probably recite many of the rhymes by heart.

One Seuss, Two Seuss

The first floor is colorful and fun and features family-friendly, interactive exhibits based on the familiar stories. Kids can sit on a motorcycle beside a Mulberry Street police officer; play a digital fishing game at McElligot’s Pool and take a photo with the Cat in the Hat.

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In front of a “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” mural sits the Wump of Gump, a seven-humped creature designed for climbing. An exhibit of Ted’s childhood bedroom includes a touchscreen where visitors can “draw” on the bedroom walls as Ted famously did as a child. (Unlike many mothers, Ted’s mom was delighted by his whimsical crayon animals Ted drew on his walls.)

The second-level is a more traditional museum experience and a glimpse at the personal side of Ted Geisel through the eyes of his family. Ted Geisel’s furniture and possessions have been assembled to recreate his La Jolla, Calif., studio and sitting room and you’ll see photographs, personal notes, artworks and family heirlooms.

The museum’s lowest level features the Cat’s Corner, a Dr. Seuss-themed multi-purpose educational space for ongoing art and literacy-based activities. A full-time Seuss educator is on hand to help. If you visit, you’ll want to check out the sculpture garden with bronze renditions of Dr. Seuss’s most famous characters. The Seuss museum is part of a five-museum complex. One ticket grants entry to a science museum, history museum and two art museums around a grassy quad. For information: Springfieldmuseums.org.

Eric Carle Museum celebrates picture book art

Kids can get up close and personal with “The Very Hungry Caterpiller” at the Eric Carle Museum, located in Amherst, Mass. It’s a stunning museum, founded by the artist and his wife, Barbara, and is the first full-scale museum in America devoted to national and international picture book art.

The beautiful light-filled lobby features four dramatic panels in vivid tones of red, green, blue and yellow — colors reflected in many of Carle’s books. The galleries feature curated exhibitions of original art from outstanding picture books. There’s a library for storytelling and reading; a large art studio where artists of all ages can create their own art. There’s a cafe and great little gift shop.

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Upcoming special exhibits include “The Art of Eric Carle: Night” focusing on Carle’s nightime scenes womplete with twinkling stars, gentle-faced moons and creatures of the night. (Sept. 12-March 18); “Treasures of the Collection” celebrating the musem’s 15th anniversary (Nov. 19-April 1) and ” Eighty Years of Caldecott Books” (Dec. 12-May 13) which will bring together 79 first-edition award books.

For information: www.carlemuseum.org.

Giving Strings concert planned

This will be the 18th year that the all-volunteer Giving Strings Orchestra will perform a free concert in Oakwood with proceeds this summer benefiting HAALO, the mural arts program that’s a partnership between K12/TEJAS Gallery and the Montgomery County Juvenile Court Program. Last year 120 musicians from throughout the Miami Valley participated in this all-volunteer event. To date, Giving Strings has raised more than $53,000 for local children’s charities.

This summer’s event is slated for 7 p.m. on Sat., Aug. 12, outdoors on the 200 block of Ridgewood Avenue in Oakwood. Patrick Reynolds, assistant conductor of the Dayton Philharmonic, will conduct the program of classics to pops. Oakwood resident, Eric Knorr will be featured as soloist in the Purcell Trumpet Sonata. Knorr is the retired Principal Trumpet player of the United States Air Force Band of Flight.

Funds will be raised by free-will donations and the sale of items in a silent auction. Audience members are asked to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Oakwood will be the alternate rain location. For more information, call (937) 294-5605 or email givingstrings@gmail.com.

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Dancers at DAI

The Dayton Art Institute will present an interactive African dance performance by Tony West and the Imani Dancers in conjunction with its current special exhibition, “Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence.” The event will take place from 1-2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12.

The company draws inspiration from a variety of sources — West African drumming and dance; South and East African music, catchy rhythms from Latin America and line dances from the United States. Tickets are $5 for museums members; $7 for non-members and can be purchased at the door.

Brewery employees are artists as well

Pretty impressive that so many employees of The Yellow Springs Brewery also happen to be artists, as well. You can check out the unusual art show at the taproom through Aug. 20 or attend an art party celebration on from 5-7 on Sunday, Aug. 13. The exhibit is part of an ongoing monthly series entitled, “Art + Ale” that features the latest work from local artists.

The show will feature work from Kristie Moore, Heather Gnau, Dan Robertson, Shawn Combs, Travis Lewis, Mike Fonderhide and other brewery employees. There’s lots of variety — from stained-glass ornaments to paintings and photography and illustration.

The brewery is at 305 Walnut St. in Yellow Springs.

Ulloa play published

Here’s nice news: playwright Eric Ulloa’s drama, “26 Pebbles,” which had its world premiere at The Human Race Theatre Company in February, is now licensed through Samuel French.

The play reflected a series of interviews Ulloa conducted with members of the Newtown, Conn., community about the terrible tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, when 20 first-graders were murdered.

Wanna play Ralphie?

Here’s your child’s opportunity to portray Ralphie, his younger brother Randy, best friends Schwartz and Flick, bully Scutt Farkas, Esther Jane, and Helen.

The Human Race Theatre Company and the Victoria Theatre Association are holding auditions for the young actors (ages 10-14) for Philip Grecian’s classic holiday comedy based on the motion picture “A Christmas Story.” Auditions will be from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26, at the Metropolitan Arts Center, 126 N. Main St., downtown Dayton.

The Human Race will start accepting audition appointments by phone starting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 8. To make an appointment contact Collin Simpson, at (937) 461-3823 ext. 3116. Details on the characters can be found on The Human Race website: www.humanracetheatre.org/contact/get-involved.

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