By the book
Blue Jasmine, a young-adult novel written by Madison author Kashmira Sheth, will be the first selection of the monthly Multicultural Book Circle, beginning March 4 at A Room of One's Own Feminist Bookstore, 307 W. Johnson St. Developed for girls between the ages of 10 and 17, the circle will meet at noon on the first Sunday of every month, with the goal of helping young women celebrate diversity and build self-esteem, says the store's Sashe Mishur. Facilitated by Lincoln Elementary School teacher Brandy Copeland, the circle will provide complimentary copies of Blue Jasmine and all future titles to participants ' thanks to A Room of One's Own Foundation, the store's new nonprofit educational arm funded by a local feminist.
Blue Jasmine, based on Sheth's own experiences, tells the tale of Seema, a 12-year-old girl whose family moves from India to Iowa, where she struggles to learn English, understand new customs and find acceptance among her classmates. The group will determine future titles, and Mishur hopes to incorporate nonfiction into the mix. For additional information, call 257-7888.
The case of two missing boys found in St. Louis earlier this year after being abducted by the same man serves as an invaluable reminder of the need to discuss safety with your children. Which is why Operation Safe Kids may be an even more popular destination point at Kids Expo 2007 than at previous expos. In fact, show manager Matt Meyers says some people attend the event, slated for March 17-18 at the Alliant Energy Center, specifically to have the FBI take free digital photos and fingerprints of their children to assist in search and identification efforts should they ever become lost. An estimated 145 exhibitors ' from African Youth Outreach to Yogi Bear's Camp Resort & Water Playground ' also will be on hand to share ideas and provide pony rides, wall-climbing courses and diaper derbies, and five stages will offer hourly entertainment.
As an added benefit, the expo will expand this year from one main hall to an additional nine rooms. The extra space will allow organizers to create several age-appropriate zones, as well as specific areas for books, art, photography and even a little peace and quiet. 'We certainly have people every year who tell us this place is just crazy,' Meyers says. Spilling different activities into different rooms should help reduce the chaos. Admission: $3 for adults; $2 for children ages 2-12; free for kids under 2. Visit kids-expo.com or call 252-6320 for details.
To celebrate 100 years of Montessori education ' a form of teaching that began in Rome and uses a prepared environment in which children freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities ' Madison's six Montessori schools will welcome noted speaker M. Shannon Helfrich from the Association Montessori Internationale to Olbrich Botanical Gardens on March 10 at 2 p.m. Helfrich's topic, 'The Child's Mind ' The Child's Brain: Implications for Early Childhood Educators,' will explore how and why a brain is more developed at the early-childhood stage than at any other time in a person's life. 'She specifically speaks to a wider audience,' says Dorothy Zografi, head of school emeritus at Madison Central Montessori. 'That's why we are putting this in a public place and not offering it just for our Montessori parents. This is a critical message for parents of young children, even if their children don't attend a Montessori school.' Call Madison Central Montessori at 274-9549 for details.