Best Kids' Birthday Parties 2003 | Denver Puppet Theater | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Local puppeteer Annie Zook is a one-woman powerhouse of a children's entertainer. She's a soft-sculpture artist who crafts her own puppets -- a director, actor and playwright, a shopkeeper, a museum curator and collector, and an art instructor who's been running her own theater for ten years. On top of all that, she throws one hell of a birthday party. A pre-show puppet playtime, a performance, use of a party room for cake and ice cream and a well-managed puppet workshop can all be booked at the Denver Puppet Theater. And if you want to go a little over the top, she can create a personalized script with details from the birthday kid's life. If that don't make 'em smile, nothing will.

At one time or another, every child has complained that there's nothing to do -- but this portion of the City of Denver's official Web site proves otherwise. Click on Denver City Youth Program Database, and you're off. Compiled with the help of local youngsters dubbed "YouthMappers," the site sports contact information and details about a slew of programs, services and activities designed with kids in mind.

This award-winning course takes a highly individualized approach to teaching; volunteers work with a maximum of six participants per instructor. There are Conversations in English courses five days a week, and the curriculum touches upon topics as diverse as history and parenting. Clearly, these conversations will lead to many more in the future.

Show of hands: How many parents have had palpitations when a graphing calculator showed up on the seventh-grade back-to-school supply list? Was it just the cost, or was it also the fact that you had no earthly clue what a graphing calculator does or why anyone would need to know such a thing? The good news is that the folks at CCA realize there are major mathematical concepts that have been discovered since you left junior high. They've put together a two-week, mini-crash course, the Parents' Mathematics Institute, for moms and dads of kids in seventh grade and up that covers elementary math concepts, including writing, solving and graphing inequalities, estimating answers and beginning algebra. The bad news is that the course, complete with an introduction to that pesky graphing calculator and separate workshops for kids, took place earlier this month.
With gallons and gallons of ink depicting the never-ending power struggle between spandex-clad goodie-goodies and animal-themed criminals, Mile High Comics Megastore in Thornton is the largest comics shop in the country, and the flagship of five metro locations. Mile High Comics president Chuck Rozanski started the company in 1969 and built it into the Superman of the comics retail/mail-order industry. With shelves of new comics, bins of back issues, toys and action figures from every possible merchandising deal, posters, games and other collectibles on its 11,000-square-foot floor, this place tempts young and old to travel great distances to unleash their inner Clark Kent.

Best Collection of the Golden Age of American Illustration

Fahrenheit's Books

Let the DAM be damned! The finest art in town may just hang inside the front door of Fahrenheit's Books. This great, if somewhat cramped, bibliophile's paradise is filled to the rafters (and then some) with bookish bounty, but the real treat is the collection of paperback pulp novels of the '50s and '60s that heralded the golden age of American illustration. Their intimate, front-of-the-store setting is perfect for displaying the eye-popping covers of torrid scenarios in the most lurid colors. The drapery of a single femme fatale's peasant blouse over her heaving bosom is sexier than all the porn at Kitty's South. Each cover is a beautiful little jewel of a thing, but en masse the effect makes Fahrenheit's Books the finest illustration art gallery in the city.

When the Terminal Annex on Wynkoop Street closed, oodles of lower-downtowners lost a convenient place to complete their postal chores. So here's to the LoDo branch of the Tattered Cover opening a shipping center to keep area residents from having to wait in already long postal lines throughout the city. As a bonus, the atmosphere inside the bookstore is infinitely more pleasant than the Annex's ever was.
Underground movie rentals, creepy comics, horror paperbacks, obscure punk bands on vinyl: If it's spooky or subversive books and music you're after, you'll find it at Black and Read Bookstore. Never again must you search in vain -- or pay too much -- for avant-garde German synth-pop on CD or hard-to-find '80s death metal. New or used, Black and Read's enthusiastic, ill-groomed, goateed staff is happy to turn you on to obscure tomes or tunes. And in case you're stuck in Arvada with a pressing need for a new eyebrow stud, you'll always find one in their selection of jewelry and accessories.

Hue-Man Experience carries books, music, gifts and more, catering specifically to the often-overlooked African-American consumer. Since purchasing the store from its original founder eight months ago, new owners Joi Afzal, Kim Martin and Daryl Walker proudly offer more than 6,200 titles in their homey downtown space, along with Afro-centric wedding invitations, a children's corner, gift certificates and unique home and gift items. For sixteen years, Hue-Man has served as the local black community's leading source for fiction, relationship tips, health advice, African history, art and photography. If you're into literature and media with flavor, check out the Hue-Man Experience.

If you like your media saturation on a more manageable, not to mention liberal, scale, Breakdown Book Collective and Community Space is the place. After troubles at its former Platte Street location, the bookstore moved into the burgeoning Ogden arts district, and the place is again stocked with hundreds of titles on anarchy, pacifism, gender, race, sexuality and, of course, some ol' fashioned socialism. They also offer art, workshops, free classes and even the occasional basement show spotlighting everything from noise bands to hip-hop DJs. Just don't sign any lists. You never know where the FBI lurks.

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