By the Wayside

SAT 5/3
There's something wrong -- or at least a little off -- at Wayside School. First, it has 30 classrooms built on top of one another. Then there's the teacher who turns her students into apples, and the kid who's permanently stuck to his seat with chewing gum. The school's whimsical, quirky goings-on are the basis for the play Sideways Stories from Wayside School, playing at Main Street Theater. Geared toward theater aficionados in the first through sixth grades, it's based on the popular books of Louis Sachar. The Austin-based children's author also wrote Holes, which was recently adapted into a movie.Producing director Vivienne St. John, who read the Wayside stories as a child, was excited to bring them to the stage. "Kids will definitely relate, and they've already gotten to know the stories and characters through the books," she says. "Mr. Sachar is very intuitive of children. He sees life and experiences from a child's level, and his tone is never condescending."

Fans of Roald Dahl and Maurice Sendak will find a lot to like here, and there's enough "magic" to appease the Harry Potter set, too. Just watch out for Mrs. Gorf, "the meanest teacher at Wayside School." 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturdays through May 17. Main Street Theater, 4617 Montrose. For information, call 713-524-6706 or visit $8 to $10.-- Bob Ruggiero

Preteen Paparazzi
Even though adults are always clicking cameras in kids' faces, most of the little buggers aren't even allowed to touch such a pricey piece of equipment. But the lucky youngsters who took photos for "The Universal Language of Children: Laughter, Imagination and Reflection" got their chance. Photographer Karen Sachar worked with 14 local children, ages nine to 12, to produce the exhibit. Armed with Canon Sure Shot cameras donated by FotoFest 2002, the kids snapped away and documented their lives through their own eyes for a change. They may not know much about composition, but children have enough gumption to point and shoot. The exhibit is on view 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays through July 20. Children's Museum of Houston, 1500 Binz. For information, call 713-522-1138.-- Troy Schulze

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