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Bringing Stories to Life : A Tarzana bookstore helps nurture a love for literature with readings, music and more.

February 26, 1993|SUSAN HEEGER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Susan Heeger writes regularly for The Times.

How am I to sing your praise,

Happy chimney-corner days,

Sitting safe in nursery nooks,

Reading picture storybooks?

--Robert Louis Stevenson, "A Child's Garden of Verses"

Lucky is the child who gets to curl up in someone's lap and watch a story unfold through the magic of a book. Not only do such children grow up feeling loved, but they're more likely to grow up loving books, according to Darlene Daniel, owner of Pages bookstore in Tarzana.

This belief has led Daniel to make story readings a regular part of her store's events. Most Saturday mornings at 11, Pages opens its doors on Storytime, an hour of read-aloud books, songs, dancing and crafts presided over by a storyteller and aimed at 3- to 8-year-olds.

The first and third Wednesday mornings of each month are reserved for Now I Am Two programs, which are intended, says Daniel, "to help children make the transition from enjoying books as a lap experience to participating in a group experience." These events feature more music, pop-up books, finger play and felt-board stories than do those for the older group.

Other special programs on selected Saturdays include musical mini-concerts and "character parties," at which favorite storybook characters appear in costume.

Waiting for a giant bear to arrive at a program of bear stories, 8-year-old Celina Yavelow of Studio City gave this appraisal of such events: "It feels nice. You sit down and listen and there are pictures and then you learn."

Pages opened 10 years ago and doubled in size in 1991. The Storytime program is almost as old as the store, and most of its offerings are free.

Saturday, Pages' early spring season begins with an event inspired by Scholastic Books' science-oriented Magic School Bus series. Complete with storyteller Diana Deutsch playing the role of the eccentric teacher Ms. Frizzle, the Magic School Bus workshop-party will send audiences of 5- to 9-year-olds on an imaginative odyssey from the ocean floor to the ends of the solar system. Preregistration is required, and the $3 fee may be applied toward purchasing Magic Bus books, which are written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen.

Now I Am Two programs fall on March 3 and 17 and April 7 and 21, and will feature Pages veteran Linda Fisher. The storyteller and singer will lead children in tales about animals, people and the changing seasons.

Saturday Storytimes are always focused around a theme. Subjects for March 6 and 20, respectively, will be, "I Think I Am, I Think I Am; Let's Pretend," and "Curious Cats and Funny Felines." April themes are "Bunny Tales and Other Celebrations for Easter" (April 10), "Celebrate the Earth and its Creatures" (April 17) and "Down on the Farm" (April 24). All events conclude with a craft that illustrates the theme using paper constructions, drawing or face-painting.

Three more special programs complete Pages' early spring roster. The first, at 11 a.m. March 13, is an appearance by children's book writer Ann Whitford Paul.

At 11 a.m. March 27, Inka-Neeto, the musical duo of Vinnie and Kelly Floriani, will perform interactive songs that use elements of Louisiana zydeco and Mississippi blues.

On April 3, a Berenstain Bear Party will feature two costumed characters who will perform along with readings from the popular series about the furry family. Preregistration is required.

Where and When Location: Pages, 18399 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call: (818) 342-6657

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