Ever since we splurged on a $2.99 plastic magician’s wand at Santa’s Land last year, my daughter has treated us to the occasional magic show in the living room. They are 90 percent theatrics, and 10 percent tricks. 


The climax of each trick involves the same magic words and audience instructions: “Doodley-doo, look out the window….” We all swivel to look out the window and when we look back again, Voila! Just like that, a stuffed animal has miraculously appeared on top of the card table.

A couple of months ago, we sat in on a kid’s magic class run by the Toy Boat outfit in Asheville. The slight-of-hand techniques of magic tricks supposedly improve kids’ focus and concentration. While diverting and holding the audience’s attention with one hand, they have to secretly be carrying out the trick with the other hand — even a simple trick like concealing a coin in the palm of your hand and then making it appear at the right moment.

Next Tuesday (July 16) Zelnik the Magician will be make himself appear at the Canton and Waynesville libraries for a free kids magic show. He’ll work his magic — and by that, I mean entertaining an auditorium full of kids for longer than five minutes — at the Canton library at 11 a.m. and the Waynesville library at 2 p.m.

I wager there will be a run on the libraries’ stock of children’s magic books afterwards, so you might want to get yours soon.

Now that we have a week of solid rain behind us (I hope, I hope), don’t forget to stay up late and frolic about the yard catching fireflies while you still can. Last summer, the chance to chase fireflies seemed to slip right by us. Since it means keeping the kids up well past 9 o’clock, I put it off, and put if off — and suddenly, the fireflies were gone and summer was almost over. This summer, I’m determined not to let that happen, so this week is going to be our firefly week.

There are plenty of other reasons to keep the kids up late this summer. While the days of the old drive-in theater are gone, you can still experience the thrill of an outside movie on a warm, summer night at Bridge Park in downtown Sylva. Every Thursday this month (July 11, 18 and 25), family movies are shown under the stars courtesy of Jackson County Parks and Rec and the Jackson Chamber of Commerce. Bring a blanket or lawn chair, and, hurrah, it’s free! (828.293.3053 or www.facebook.com/jacksonrecreationandparks)

And if you really want to experience the dark side, there’s a night hike geared just for kids in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park every Sunday at 8:45 p.m. through mid-August. This Junior Ranger hike, led by a park ranger, begins from the Smokemont Campground a few miles into the park along U.S. 441. It’s free, but you have to reserve a spot a few days ahead of time by calling 828.497.1904.

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