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‘Amazing Grace’ stage musical the biography of the iconic song and its composer

This is the story of how Christopher Smith, a self-taught writer-composer-lyricist who has spent much of his career working as a police officer and Youth Outreach and Education Director in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, was not only driven to write a grand-scale musical, but is now …


I have always enjoyed writing. Obviously, it is “easy” for me. I simply “talk” to the screen or paper. Reading and words are of greatest importance as well, again, obviously. One of the challenges of writing is finding “The Right Word.” No one helps us …

Science-meets-symphony in ‘Northern Lights’


Summer in Chicago is an odd time to see the northern lights. We’re thousands of miles from the frigid northern lands where those dazzling, color-filled displays, also known as the aurora borealis, periodically light up the skies. This weekend the Grant Park Music Festival brings …

Hand: These books mix color, creativity


What would our world be without art?

No color, no form. Everything has a beauty; we just don’t always see it.

I used to try to get my kids in school to understand that everything we use is made by someone from something. Color is, …

Hand: Read these tales; time won’t be draggin’


Where do dragons come from?

They have been around in myth and folklore for centuries, but I don’t remember any stories about how they came about.

In “Have You Seen My Dragon?” by Steve Light, we watch as our small boy looks all over town …

Hand: Some books are worthy as reruns


I read somewhere that there are about 5,000 children’s books published each year.

Obviously, I do not get or read that many.

It has occurred to me, though, that if the book publishers stopped publishing new books for some weird reason, but kept the old …

As the weather cools, fall festivals dot the landscape


Pumpkins and scarecrows. Hot chili and cold beer. These are all wonderful components of autumn. Fortunately, plenty of more fall fun awaits at area festivals. Here’s a list of some of the fests across Chicagoland ready to entertain the masses this season. Always check the …

Hand: Dance tales have twists and turns


Many years ago, I had, like so many little girls, a dream of being a ballerina.

Needless to say, I didn’t have the body type, or, of course, the talent to achieve this goal. I have always loved to watch the grace and beauty that …

Hand: A lot about little


Let’s look at some little things and at some things for little ones.

I have trouble understanding that there are plants and animals that I can’t even see. Nicola Davies tells us about “Tiny Creatures — ­The World Of Microbes.”

She begins by telling us …

Hand: These tales are on the go, and in the know


What would we do without modern transportation?

Kay Winters gives us a look at how it used to be in “Voices from the Oregon Trail.”

I had the pleasure of “finding” the western end, as well as living in Kansas. I truly marvel at how …

Hand: Page after page of animal antics


I love word plays.

“Animal House,” by Candace Ryan, is chock full of them. We meet Jeremy in school, who tells his teacher, Mrs. Nuddles, that he lives in a gorvilla.

Mrs. Nuddles doesn’t buy any of his stories. Not the one about the snailbox …



I have never done this before. If fact, I have been very careful not to, but this time, I just couldn’t resist. A third-grade teacher introduced me to one of the funniest read-a-louds for that age group many years ago. Bill Brittain’s “All The Money …

Hand: These books present the facts of life


Let’s face it: For us old-timers, sex education was often a difficult subject to discuss with our kids.

Books help. I gave my son a book after our “talk” and he took it to school. It came back wrapped in plain brown paper with a …

Hand: Open up these clothes books


How did pink become the color associated with girls, and blue the color associated with boys?

I remember before a baby’s gender was known before birth that we had to be so neutral in buying for baby showers, but I have no idea where these …

All you need is love of the Beatles


It started out small, but an annual salute to the Beatles in downtown Hammond has bounced to lofty heights with its British beat. Now in its ninth year, Beatles Fest draws large crowds after being born as a quaint indoor gathering in Northwest Indiana that …

Summer symphony tunes swing from

light classical to cinematic melodies


Variety is the spice of life. It also is what drives the musical menu that will be served up by the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra at the South Shore Summer Music Festival. “My philosophy has been do what people have loved in the past and …