Most children are great storytellers without even trying. Whether they're coming up with elaborate tales to make excuses for late homework assignments, or describing the unbelievable goal they made in a soccer tournament, they'll be animated, incorporating gestures, funny voices, and hilarious facial expressions, and their audience will be captivated. This weekend you can see some of the best and learn from true masters of the craft at The Art of Storytelling: A Pan-Caribbean Experience.
The Festival's featured storytellers are Diane Wolkstein and Paul Keens-Douglas. Wolkstein, a professional storyteller for more than 35 years, has traveled the world researching and collecting stories. She has published more than twenty books, including The Magic Orange Tree and Other Haitian Folk Tales. "The combination of being a performer and researcher brings out the heart and the moral meaning in a story," says Wolkstein. The Trinidadian-born Keens-Douglas has authored nine books, and his colorful characters Sugar George, Tanti at de Oval, and Bobots have been adopted into Caribbean literature.
Lucrece Louisdhon-Louinis, assistant director of this program, is most proud of the Youth Tellers, a group of youngsters who attended storytelling camp at library branches during spring break. "They are so brave!" Louisdhon-Louinis says of the children who'll be performing during the festival.
After listening to culturally rich tales, you can shop at the book fair and enjoy Caribbean cuisine while listening to steel drum music, or catch a West Indian Carnival parade featuring the Junkanoos. The festival is free and runs from 10:30 to 4:00 at the Main Library, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami. Call 305-375-2978, or visit www.mdpls.org. -- Lyssa Oberkreser
Boulevard of Treats
Coral Gables is known for its high concentration of good restaurants. Giralda Avenue, also called "Restaurant Row," is vital to the area's culinary cachet. This side street makes a fitting location for the second annual Coral Gables Wine and Food Festival, a celebration of all things scrumptious and intoxicating. Tonight at 7:00 Giralda will be closed to traffic between Ponce de Leon and Galiano Street. For $40, attendees can sample vino from a variety of wineries and fare from many of the area's best restaurants. A $100 VIP ticket gains you gourmet hors d'oeuvres, even finer wine, a sweet gift bag, and a shot at the VIP door prizes. Call 954-524-4657, or visit www.sflung.org. -- Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik
Party in the street!
Before Starbucks, Fat Tuesday, and Johnny Rockets set up shop, Coconut Grove was known as a bohemian community, where stores sold incense and hippie garb, not imported perfume and designer couture. The Coconut Grove Block Party aims to rekindle the funky flame. Beginning at 6:00 tonight, Commodore Plaza -- the block-long lane home to the quirky log cabin bar Mr. Moe's, high-end head shop Adam's House, and the wonderful Midori Gallery -- will be shut down and turned into party central. Shimmy to Cuban rumba and son from Conjunto Progreso, and groove to the sounds of Trinidadian steel drums from the 21st Century Steel Band. The booming sounds of a Japanese taiko drum group will enthrall partygoers while a Bahamian Junkanoo parade features the towering Mocka Jumbi Stilt Dancers looming above the revelry. The best part? The celebration is free. Call 305-444-7270, or visit www.coconutgrovemiami.com. -- Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik
A Little Bit Frightening
Everybody is kung fu (and hip-hop) fighting
Chalk it up to Jet Li, DMX, or the ancient Chinese secrets of the Wu Tang Clan, but there is no denying hip-hop and kung fu have enjoyed an ass-kicking relationship for some time now. B-boy battles center on break-dancing and beat-boxing; the martial art centers on beating, boxing, dancing around your opponent, and trying to break a limb or something. Did we mention they both have a thing for weapons? These worlds collide in a synergistic exposition for honor and props. Enter the Wu at the Hip-Hop Dance Expo and World Wu Shu/Kung Fu Championships taking place at various times today through May 22. Events are spread out at three Miami Beach locations: Howard Johnson (8701 Collins Ave.), the North Shore Community Center (501 72nd St.), and the 21st Street Recreation Center (2100 Washington Ave.). Tickets cost $10 to $20. Call 954-977-7886, or visit www.wusociety.com for a complete schedule. --Kris Conesa
Bless Our Pets
With flea and tick season upon us, wouldn't you like to provide your pet with a little extra protection that isn't toxic? Today the Humane Society of Greater Miami is hosting a Blessing of the Animals starting at 4:00 at the historic Oaklawn Pet Cemetery (2101 NW 95th St., Miami). Don't worry, this isn't the scary Pet Sematary Stephen King wrote about: "It's a place to go and feel good about the bond people have with their pets," says Carrie Neff, Humane Society Website and communications coordinator. "There's a canopy of trees and vines.... And there are even people buried there." All furry, feathered, and scaly friends are welcome. Call 305-696-0800, or visit www.humanesocietymiami.org. -- Lyssa Oberkreser