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Spare Times: For Children

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Published: September 14, 2007

FOR CHILDREN

THE KITCHEN HIGH LINE BLOCK PARTY It’s hard for many New Yorkers to be astonished by anything — or anyone — they encounter on the street. But even blasé residents would be surprised if they wandered onto a block that had all of the following: a performance artist delivering free singing telegrams on his cellphone; other artists drawing portraits, using blown balloons as canvases; tap dancers performing improvisations; and a troupe of frogs, snakes and lizards, out not to promote car insurance but to function as an unorthodox petting zoo.

Then again, the Kitchen High Line Block Party isn’t your typical street fair. Presented by the Kitchen, the experimental-arts space in Chelsea, and Friends of the High Line, the nonprofit group devoted to the redevelopment of that elevated West Side rail track, the party is back on West 19th Street after a one-year hiatus (above, the event in 2005). It returns on Saturday with almost 50 artists, about 20 activity booths and live music.

And while the fare at the Kitchen isn’t always child-friendly, the festival is. Visitors of any age can ask Pablo Helguera to sing a telegram. “He has kind of a repertoire of songs,” said Debra Singer, the Kitchen’s executive director. “You dial in the number you want on his cellphone, to anywhere in the world.” Children can visit a storytelling area as well as Erik’s Reptile Edventures, where the creatures seem as willing to be held as many more domestic species.

Those who would like to participate in Chelsea’s artistic ferment can do so via workshops, including mask making with Elia Alba and Aisha Cousins, kite making with Pat Hammond and puppet making with Isabelle Lumpkin. The group Groovehoops will teach the hula hoop, and Hoofer’s House will offer tap instruction and performance. “You know when musicians jam?” Ms. Singer said. “They do the same thing with tap.”

The party will take place rain or shine (it has tents), and if you can’t stand the heat you can always go into the Kitchen; its doors will be open. (Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., West 19th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, Chelsea, 212-255-5793, thekitchen.org; free.) LAUREL GRAEBER

BIG MOVIES FOR LITTLE KIDS (Monday) This series is intended to introduce children 2 to 6 (though all ages are welcome) to classic films. Its fall premiere offers a true classic for those who like their movie stars on the fuzzy side: “The Muppets Take Manhattan,” in which that affable gang heads for Broadway. At 4 p.m., Cobble Hill Cinemas, 265 Court Street, at Butler Street, Brooklyn, (718) 596-4995, bigmoviesforlittlekids.blogspot.com; $6.50.

‘EXTRAORDINARY’ (Saturday and Sunday) In literature, young heroes and heroines are transported to other worlds in various ways: a rabbit hole, a tornado, an old wardrobe. But the passage in “Extraordinary” suits today’s sedentary lifestyle: a couch. In this musical from Vital Children’s Theater, written by Dante Russo and David F. M. Vaughn, a boy named Lester travels to the Land of Quiet in search of his deaf cousin’s hearing, acquiring new understanding along the way. (Through Oct. 21.) At 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., McGinn-Cazale Theater, 2162 Broadway, at 76th Street, (212) 352-3101, vitaltheatre.org; $18.

FALL SNAPPER DERBY WITH I FISH NY (Thursday) The fish in question aren’t red snapper but juvenile bluefish, whose sharp teeth and aggressive appetites have earned them the nicknamed snappers. In this celebration of their fall migration, children 8 and older can fish for them (catch-and-release style) with the educational organization I Fish NY. Tackle and bait are provided, along with a lesson in local ecology. From 6 to 8 p.m., Gantry Plaza Fishing Pier, 50th Avenue and the East River, Long Island City, Queens; free, ifishnewyork.org. Reservations advised: (718) 482-4940, -4022 or -4920.

FANCY LESSONS (Saturday) Forget plain and simple; Jane O’Connor is a big believer in the fun of fanciness. In this event at the Staten Island Children’s Museum, she will sign copies of two of her books from the “Fancy Nancy” series and offer lessons in fancy walking and eating with little fingers extended. Young attendees can create glittery jewelry and make ice cream parfaits. From 3 to 5 p.m., 1000 Richmond Terrace, Livingston, (718) 273-2060, Ext. 147; $35 for one adult and one child (includes a signed book); $15 for an extra child (no book); $10 for an additional book; $10 for an additional adult (includes museum admission).

‘GOODNIGHT MOON’ (Saturday and Sunday) Hello, Moon; hello, light and the red balloon; hello, toy house; and hello to all those other objects (and creatures) that are bade goodnight in Margaret Wise Brown’s classic children’s book. They’re now making stage appearances in Chad Henry’s musical adaptation, which opens Saturday at Manhattan Children’s Theater. Not intended to put anyone to sleep, the show features lively interactions between the story’s bedtime bunny and his surroundings. (Through Dec. 9.) At noon and 2 p.m., 52 White Street, near Church Street, TriBeCa, (212) 352-3101; $20; $15 for ages 2 through 17 and 65+.

GREAT JAZZ ON THE GREAT HILL (Saturday) This family concert in Central Park will feature not only the playing of jazz, but also the painting of it. At 1 p.m. the artist Emmett Wigglesworth will lead a workshop in translating the spirit of the music into a huge collaborative mural to be displayed throughout the event. The 2 p.m. concert, presented by Jazzmobile and the Central Park Conservancy, will include Frank Wess and Jeremy Pelt with the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra; the singer Stephanie Jordan; and Yosvany Terry and the Yédégbe Project. From 1 to 5:30 p.m., Peter Jay Sharp Children’s Glade and the Great Hill, 106th Street and Central Park West, (212) 860-1370, centralparknyc.org; free.

HARVEST DAYS: APPLE PICKING (Saturday and Sunday) City children who are used to getting their apples from the local grocer can pluck them straight from the tree in this taste of farm life from the Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Then they can enjoy the fruits of their labor as they make cider, pudding, apple sauce and apple butter, as well as learn how to preserve the fruit for winter. From 1 to 4 p.m., Children’s Corner, inside the Willink entrance, Flatbush Avenue and Empire Boulevard, prospectpark.org; free.

LATIN AMERICAN FESTIVAL (Saturday) Puerto Rico and Cuba are as close as Queens in this celebration, which heralds the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month (Saturday through Oct. 15) at all the borough’s libraries. It includes a lesson (in Spanish) from Acacio Acosta, a chef, in making pasteles, Puerto Rican delicacies (12:30 p.m.), and music by BombaBoricua, a Puerto Rican drumming and dance group (2 p.m.), and by David Sandoval, Roberto Poveda and Son Electrico, performing Cuban rhythms (3:30 p.m.). From 12:30 to 4:30 p.m., Central Library, 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica, (718) 990-0891, queenslibrary.org; free.

‘PEACE’ (Friday through Sunday) This comedy was written by Aristophanes in 421 B.C., but its themes still resonate. Its main character, fed up with his country’s long war, flies to Olympus on the back of a dung beetle, intending to complain. He finds Peace buried under a trash heap. Clarke Jordan’s adaptation is presented by Ralph Lee’s Mettawee River Theater Company, with Mr. Lee’s oversize masks and puppets. At 7:30 p.m., the garden of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, at 112th Street, (212) 929-4777; $10; $5 for 12 and under, 65+ and students.

STORIES AT THE STATUE 2007 (Saturday) Diane Wolkstein has been telling stories for so long that you might think she does it in her sleep. That hasn’t happened yet, but the heroine of the story she will tell on Saturday really does have an unstoppable talent. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the storytelling program she began in Central Park, Ms. Wolkstein will tell “Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep,” about how a woman and her magic jump-rope save a community. The performance will be accompanied by live guitar music and a rope-skipping contest. From 11 a.m. to noon, the Hans Christian Andersen statue, 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue, Central Park, dianewolkstein.com; free.

‘TEACH YOUR CHILD TO RIDE A BIKE’ (Saturday) This workshop, sponsored by Bike New York and the Parks and Recreation Department, promises to eliminate both skinned knees and frayed nerves. To be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., it will teach children how to balance and how to start, stop and steer. Participants must take their own helmets and bicycles. At two locations: Tompkins Square Park, 10th Street between Avenues A and B, East Village, and Midland Beach Park, parking lot at Jefferson Avenue and Father Capodanno Boulevard, Staten Island. Free, but preregistration required: bikenewyork.org or (212) 932-2453, Ext. 159. LAUREL GRAEBER

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