Mighty Real

Classic children's stories, with their dark forests and furious beasties, have made for great librettos since before Hansel and Gretel were a glimmer in the Grimm Brothers' eyes. This week, Houston Grand Opera's children's company, Opera to Go!, will present a new work for children based on Margery Williams's timeless tale The Velveteen Rabbit. The opera was written (in English, never fear) by Kate Pogue, and the music was composed by Mary Carol Warwick. The eponymous rabbit is stuffed but dreams of being real. The skin horse, the wisest plaything in the nursery, explains that a toy will become real only if a child truly loves it. Ah, but to love is to sacrifice, and the child in question, who's suffering from scarlet fever, calls for the rabbit to join him on his contaminated bed. The rabbit does, knowing that he will have to be burned along with the bedding. Will the rabbit soak up enough love in the meantime to realize his dream? 9:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, from Tuesday, January 20, through Friday, January 30. Heinen Theater, 3517 Austin. For information, call 713-546-0230 or visit www.houstongrandopera.org. $4. -- Lisa Simon

Spread the Seed

SAT 1/17

A celebrity spokesman really can help push a cause. At the Houston Arbor Day Celebration, the little branches of your family tree can meet Smokey Bear, Johnny Appleseed and the Lorax. They'll speak for the trees and give away free seedlings to one and all. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, January 17. Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, 4501 Woodway. For information, call 713-681-8433 or visit www.houstonnaturecenter.org. Free. -- Keith Plocek

Live the Dream

MON 1/19

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. should mean more to your kids than a day off from school (or the name of a street). The Children's Museum of Houston has plenty of activities planned for MLK Day, including workshops where your little activists can listen to his speeches, make peace posters and write letters to their civic leaders. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, January 19. 1500 Binz. For information, call 713-522-1138 or visit www.cmhouston. org. $3. -- Keith Plocek