Local stores to celebrate latest 'Potter' release
Two area bookstores, Barnes & amp; Noble in Boardman and Waldenbooks in Shenango Valley Mall, Hermitage, will stay open past midnight tonight in anticipation of the onrush of fans eager to be the first to own copies of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" after its midnight release.
Barnes & amp; Noble will start selling the book at its store in Shops at Boardman Park at the stroke of midnight during its "Midnight Magic" party, which starts at 10 p.m. Young area wizards can make their own magic wands and learn proper wand techniques. Guests who come dressed up as their favorite "Potter" character can be part of the character parade.
Celebrity readers will entertain guests by reading portions of the series throughout the night, including WFMJ Channel 21's Frank Marzullo at 10:30 p.m., and WYTV's Angee Shaker and Vince Bevacqua at midnight.
"Half-Blood," the sixth in J.K. Rowling's Potter series about the Hogwarts school for children with magical powers, will be offered for the discounted price of $17.99 -- 40 percent off list price. CD and audiocassettes of the unabridged book will also be available.
Waldenbooks' event will feature wizards, a Harry Potter gift giveaway, a showing of the film version of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," "treats scarier than haunted Hogwarts at night," including "spooky jelly bean tasting [ear wax, vomit, etc.] and people friendlier than the Weasleys."
New game on marketuses real-time strategy
Try starting with a few meager pebbles and some rabble clad in animal skins and trying to build them into a great civilization with a globe-conquering army. "Empire Earth II" (Sierra for Windows, $49.99) is a real-time strategy game on steroids. There are citizens to manage, resources to collect, buildings to construct and a host of unique units to lead into battle.
The game is solidly designed so players can't ignore any part of its complicated equation and has one of the best resource-management interfaces on the market. For instance, a map of the world provides icons representing spots where resources were available. Clicking in various smart locations quickly sets workers to their tasks.
The levels in the campaign mode are less impressive because they seem to follow similar patterns. But making history is rarely this much fun. Rating: T (Teen). Four stars (out of four).
Boardman tap dancerstriumph at championship
RISE, The senior tap group from Jamie's Dance Force in Boardman recently snagged a third-place overall ranking in the Battle of the Stars at the Star Power World Championships in Las Vegas. The group was chosen to compete from more than 1,000 acts after grabbing a platinum award and first place in its category. The Boardman dance school's participating groups brought home many other high awards.
Youthful art displayed
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- The Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts is presenting "Young at Art: Children's Exhibitions" through July 29, which focuses on children's picture books as our first glance at art.
The exhibitions will close with a reception at the annual Children's Summer Arts Festival from 2 to 4 p.m. July 29. Karstadt will read "Greenman," and cookies and milk will be served. The event is free.
Normal visiting hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

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