Kids’ Almanac (12/22-29)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)


“Nothing says holidays like a cheese log.”
– Ellen DeGeneres


Check out Hudson Valley teen author Erin Forbes’ Fire & Ice: The Elementals

“Four towers stand tall in the evening light as each reflects an element in sight. Do not misjudge the creatures of the night, for they shall not give up without a fight. With fire in her hair and flame in her eyes, she shall see how the elements will rise.” This secret message is part of the engaging Young Adult novel, Fire & Ice: The Elementals, about friendship, family and courage, as sisters Alice and Emery discover their magical gifts in an enchanted realm, written by local Hudson Valley teen author Erin Forbes.


Erin talked to me about her work, and I’m excited to follow her future projects. For more information or to purchase the book, visit You can also catch Erin at her book-signings at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 21 at the Clinton Community Library at 1215 Centre Road in Rhinebeck, as well as on social media, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. Congratulations! Can’t wait for the next one, Erin!

Which character do you most identify with or are most like?

My favorite character is Alice Hanley, because the entire story is seen through her eyes. I have grown to be very attached to all of the characters in Fire & Ice: The Elementals, for they each hold a piece of myself within them. The process of creating new characters has always been one of my favorite aspects of writing.

Are you working on more stories?

Yes, I recently started writing the second book in the Fire & Ice series. I try not to reveal too many spoilers; however, I’m expecting that the sequel will be a bit longer than the first book. The second story is another magical adventure that builds upon Fire & Ice: The Elementals.

What do you wish people knew about you or about your book?

I wrote my first book because I did not want to wait for another person to write it for me. I have always been an avid reader, and I wanted to create the kind of story that I had always wanted to read. When the original idea for Fire & Ice: The Elementals came to mind, I knew that it was something I needed to finish.

There is an incredible amount of negativity that has spread like wildfire throughout the YA book section. I wrote this book with the intent to create a story that would bring a new light to this corner of the bookstore. During the age when children are seeking to be inspired, the last thing that they should be reading is a story that is anything short of this expectation.



Make-your-own-gifts workshops in Fishkill & Hopewell Junction

Remember Billy Collins’ poem “The Lanyard,” about a child trying to repay his mother with a craft that he made at camp, in exchange for all that she has done for him? “Here are thousands of meals, she said, / and here is clothing and a good education. / And here is your lanyard, I replied, / which I made with a little help from a counselor. / Here is a breathing body and a beating heart, / strong legs, bones and teeth / and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered. / And here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.”

Give your kids the chance to make their own gifts, perhaps for their parents, this Friday, December 23 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at the Fishkill Recreation Center at 807 Route 52 in Fishkill, or from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Beekman Recreation Center at 29 Recreation Center Road in Hopewell Junction. Children ages 5 to 12 can make two gifts as well as design their own wrapping paper. The cost is $40 per participant. To register or for more information, visit


Make Gingerbread Houses at Red Hook Library

What did the gingerbread man put on his bed? A cookie sheet! Share this joke, and you’re sure to be a hit at the Red Hook Public Library’s Gingerbread Houses event this Friday, December 23 at 5 p.m., which is free and open to the public of all ages. Your crew will enjoy creating their own take on this popular and delicious holiday tradition.

The Red Hook Public Library is located at 7444 South Broadway in Red Hook. For more information or to register, call (845) 758-3241 or visit



First Night of Hanukkah celebrations in Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck & Beacon

This weekend is the beginning of Hanukkah, so start humming “Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah, come light the menorah / Let’s have a party, we’ll all dance the horah…” and make plans to attend the lighting of the largest menorah in the Hudson Valley! Head over to the Mid-Hudson Civic Center this Saturday, December 24 at 6 p.m. to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah, along with hot latkes, cider, donuts and dreidls. This event is free and open to the public of all ages and all faiths. Weekday lightings take place at 3:15 p.m.

It’s the year 5777 and Hanukkah time, so this Saturday, December 24, it’s not just movie night – it’s Kosher Chinese Food & Movie Night at the Rhinebeck Jewish Center, and Jewish Movie Night & Chinese Food takes place at the Chabad Center!

In Rhinebeck, the menorah-lighting takes place at 6:45 p.m., and the dinner and movie begin at 7 p.m., including a children’s movie. Reservations are appreciated, and the suggested donation is $18. The Rhinebeck Jewish Center is located at 102 Montgomery Street in Rhinebeck. For reservations or more information, call (845) 876-7666 or visit

In Poughkeepsie, the Havdala service begins at 6 p.m., followed by the menorah-lighting, kosher Chinese buffet with hot latkes and the movie Arranged, with a separate children’s movie. The suggested donation is $12 per adult. The Chabad Center is located at 61 Vassar Road in Poughkeepsie. For reservations or more information, call (845) 463-5801 or visit

Looking for more ways to light up the Hudson Valley? Check out the Illumin8tion bicycle-menorah lighting with the Beacon Hebrew Alliance at Polhill Park, beginning with the Activ8 candle this Saturday, December 24 and every day all week at 5 p.m. Will you be traveling during Hanukkah this year? Post a photo on Facebook with Hanukkah lights wherever you are, with the tag #BHAnukkah. Polhill Park is located at the corner of Route 9D and Main Street in Beacon. For more information, call (845) 831-2012 or visit

For more information about other Dutchess County menorah-lightings this week, call (845) 463-5801 or visit


More Hanukkah celebrations

Need a pointer toward some Ulster County Hanukkah destinations for your dreidl-and-donut needs this week? Here you go! Each of these events features singing Hanukkah songs, chocolate gelt, hot latkes, arts and crafts and gifts for all children. For more information about these events or to make reservations, call (845) 331-1176 or visit

Kingston Menorah-Lighting takes place on Saturday, December 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Agudas Achim, 254 Lucas Avenue in Kingston. In addition to the details mentioned above, this event includes a hot dairy buffet. Call (845) 331-1176 for reservations.

Ellenville Menorah-Lighting takes place on Sunday, December 25 at 5 p.m. at Liberty Square, located off Route 52 in Ellenville.

Woodstock Menorah-Lighting takes place on Sunday, December 25 at 3:30 p.m. on the Village Green.



Gingerman Play at Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum

This week, let’s not limit the kids simply to consumption or construction of cookie creations; give them a chance to express themselves creatively through these carbs! Be a part of the Gingerman Play at the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum on Monday, December 26 at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Twelve young volunteers and lots of audience participation promise fun for all youngsters during this special storytime event. This program is free with museum admission, which costs $8 for everyone ages 1 and up.


The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum is located at 75 North Water Street in Poughkeepsie. For more information, call (845) 471-0589 or visit


Poughkeepsie Galleria hosts Hanukkah Balloonarama

Been wanting something big and balloon-y for your kids during this year’s eight-day Festival of Lights? Head over to the Hanukkah Balloonarama Celebration in the Center Court at the Poughkeepsie Galleria (across from Build-a-Bear) this Monday, December 26 at 4 p.m. All ages will get a kick out of The Twistin’ Todd Big Balloon Show, balloon art and games, Hanukkah crafts, balloon drop, photo op with Judah and the Maccabees, hot latkes, chocolate gelt and more! Kids can also decorate cards for local police and firefighters. This event is free and open to the public of all ages.

The Poughkeepsie Galleria is located at 2001 South Road in Poughkeepsie. For more information, call (845) 463-5801 or visit



Family Hanukkah Festival at Adams Fairacre Farms in Wappingers Falls

Have you heard that clever Hamilton Hanukkah parody by the Maccabeats, Turn up the volume, and head over to Adams Fairacre Farms for the Family Hanukkah Festival, hosted by the Pardess Center for Jewish Life, this Tuesday, December 27 at 5:30 p.m. In addition to the nine-foot menorah-lighting, families will enjoy crafts, a donut bar, chocolate gelt bucket drop, latkes and more. This event is free and open to the public of all ages.

Adams Fairacre Farms are located at 160 Old Post Road in Wappingers Falls. For more information, call (845) 440-7592 or visit


Wind Racers’ Maker Lab at Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum

There’s nothing like old-fashioned, hands-on fun, especially when wheels, axles and sails are involved! This Tuesday, December 27 at the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum, kids can build their own creation at the Wind Racers’ Maker Lab. Construction of these wind-powered cars takes place at 1 p.m. and again at 3:30 p.m. The cost is $5 per child for materials with museum admission; adults get in free.

The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum is located at 75 North Water Street in Poughkeepsie. For reservations or more information, call (845) 471-0589 or visit


Make a Mouse House at Staatsburgh State Historic Site

During holiday time, do any of your kids prefer the box to the gift that was inside? Let your crew use their imaginations and crafting skills to their hearts’ content by attending a holiday craft workshop at the Staatsburgh State Historic Site this week. From Tuesday, December 27 to Friday, December 30 at 11 a.m., children can Make a Mouse House. Kids ages 6 to 10 years will see examples of mouse houses on display; then they get to build their own to take home. This program costs $8 per child, or $15 per family with up to three kids, and children must be accompanied by an adult. Registration is required.

The Staatsburgh State Historic Site is located on Old Post Road in Staatsburg. For reservations or more information, call (845) 889-8851 or visit


Mini-camps at Hudson Highlands Nature Museum in Cornwall

Concerned about cabin fever? How about sending your cuties to connect with nature while school’s out this week? The Hudson Highlands Nature Museum’s Outdoor Discovery Center offers daily mini-camps for ages 6 to 9 years, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, December 27 to 30. Campers get to meet a new animal each day, hike, play games, make crafts and more. Register for one or all four! The cost is $48 per day.

The Outdoor Discovery Center is located on Muser Drive, across from 174 Angola Road in Cornwall. For more information or to register, call (845) 534-5506 or visit



Extra holiday hours at Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh

What if George Washington could reach out to you through the centuries and invite you over to his headquarters for a cuppa? Well, “A Cure for Cabin Fever” is probably the next-best thing. From Wednesday through Saturday, December 28 to 31, the Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site is open extra hours: from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Families can take a tour of the seasonally decorated headquarters, view the museum’s over 1,300 artifacts and make a different craft to take home each day. Admission costs $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, and is free for children ages 12 and under.

The Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site is located at 84 Liberty Street in Newburgh. For more information, call (845) 562-1195 or visit


Erica Chase-Salerno interrupts this decadent piece of Lagusta’s Luscious chocolate bark to wish you a joyous holiday season. She can be reached at

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