the awesome days of summer vacation are nearly here and that's about 80 days of kid freedom. But between the summer camps and chores, there must be time to do some fun stuff! You've already seen Iron Man and Speed Racer a few times now but there will be new movies each week, books that bring your imagination to life and lots of things to do around your home to keep you moving all summer long. So here are some suggestions for your summer vacation. And don't forget to have a good time when you do it.
Sherry Robinson, Times staff writer
Here are a few movies to keep your eye on and their planned release dates. (Remember that these dates are subject to change, so keep checking the newspaper and Web sites for listings.)
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (Friday, PG) starring Ben Barnes, Liam Neeson, Tilda Swinton: The Pevensie siblings head back to Narnia a year after their first adventure. But when they get there, they realize that it has been 1,300 years in Narnian time and an evil king has taken over the land. They must help rightful heir Prince Caspian gain the throne.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (May 22, PG-13) starring Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett: It's been 17 years since Indy (Ford) had an adventure. This time he is trying to keep the mysterious Crystal Skull out of the hands of the Soviets in 1957. LaBeouf joins the ride as Mutt Williams, a man who may have a personal connection to Jones.
Kung Fu Panda (June 6, PG) starring the voices of Jack Black, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen: If Black and Rogen are here, is the word slacker far behind? Black gives voice to Po, a slacker panda who must become a kung fu master to save the Valley of Peace.
The Incredible Hulk (June 13, not yet rated) starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth: Scientist Bruce Banner (Norton) desperately searches for a cure to the radiation that causes him to turn into the green-skinned Hulk. But a new, stronger creature, the Abomination, makes him question whether that is a good idea.
Get Smart (June 20, PG-13) starring Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne "The Rock'' Johnson: The big-screen version of the classic TV show about clueless Agent 86 (Carell) and his faithful sidekick Agent 99 (Hathaway). Look for loads of pratfalls and, thankfully, his shoe phone.
Wall•E (June 27, not yet rated) starring voices of Sigourney Weaver, Kathy Najimy, Fred Willard: Pixar heads into the future with Wall•E, the tale of a Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class that is left on Earth for hundreds of years after humans abandon the planet. Wall•E will have to race across the galaxy to make sure mankind knows when it is safe to come home.
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (July 2, G) starring Abigail Breslin, Joan Cusack, Chris O'Donnell, Julia Ormand: Set in the Depression era, Breslin plays a girl who must solve a mystery to save her family's home.
Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D (July 11, PG) starring Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson: Fraser is a scientist who embarks on a journey to save his brother and winds up traveling in places that have never been seen in this story based on the Jules Verne novel.
The Dark Knight (July 18, PG-13) starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal: This sequel to Batman Begins has been in the news since Ledger died in January. So when the movie is released, expect long lines to see Ledger's Joker go against Bale's Batman.
Space Chimps (July 18, not yet rated) starring voices of Andy Samberg, Cheryl Hines, Patrick Warburton, Stanley Tucci: The title says it all about this animated buddy tale. Ham III, a chimp who is the grandson of the first chimp in space, must leave behind his slacker ways to retrieve a $5-billion space probe.
The Longshots (July 25, not yet rated) starring Ice Cube, Keke Palmer: This is the true story of Jasmine Palmer, an 11-year-old who became the first girl to play in the Pop Warner football tournament in its 56-year history.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (Aug. 8, PG-13) starring America Ferrera, Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, Blake Lively: The four friends are back, this time as college freshmen who reunite to find their missing, magical pants.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Aug. 15, not yet rated): This animated film would be called Star Wars 2 1/2 since its story is positioned between Attack of the Clones (2) and Revenge of the Sith (3 ). It tells of the ongoing struggles between the Jedi and the Trade Federation's battle droids. A Clone Wars cartoon arrives this fall on the Cartoon Network.
The Sunshine State Young Readers and 2008-09 lists for Grades 3-5 and 6-8 are available at myssyra.org. Soon the site will include plot summaries for new titles.
If you missed it, Rick Riordan's latest, The Battle of the Labyrinth, came out May 6. It is the fourth in the Percy Jackson books.
Eoin Colfer's sixth Artemis Fowl book, The Time Paradox, is due out July 15.
Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn, the fourth book in her bestselling teen vampire series, is set to be out Aug. 2.
• Teach your kid brother or sister how to tie a bow before kindergarten starts. One of the things they will need to know is how to tie their shoes.
• Do something green: Recycle a plastic bottle or an aluminum can, pick up some trash or turn off some lights in your house. For more green tips, go to kids.nationalgeographic.com/Stories/SpaceScience/Green-tips.
• Do something good for someone else: Set up a lemonade stand and give the proceeds to charity. For inspiration, go to www.alexslemonade.org, a Web site devoted to spreading the word about Alexandra "Alex'' Scott, who started a lemonade stand to raise money to find a cure for cancer. Alex died in 2004 but her ideals live on.
• Check out Phineas and Ferb: When this animated Disney series debuted last year, not much attention was given to it. But, hands down, it is one of the funniest shows on TV. Phineas (the chatty one) and Ferb (very British and quiet) are stepbrothers who just want to find cool things to do every day of their summer vacation. But their sister, Candace, just finds their high jinks annoying. Look for an original song in every episode and enjoy the antics of their platypus, Perry, who is also a spy. It's on the Disney channel at 8:30 p.m. Saturdays.
If you want to make a little cash during your break, here are five tips to help you find a summer job from some teenage job experts at myfirstpaycheck.com:
Be brave. Even in this economy, there are plenty of employers looking for the affordable, enthusiastic and energetic help that teenagers provide. Don't be afraid to apply for jobs.
Be polite. You are applying for a job. Dress up, make eye contact, shake hands and avoid using slang. Make sure you are remembered for your application and not your attitude.
Be prepared. Bring a resume and a cover letter whenever
you apply for a job. If you need help writing a resume,
myfirstpaycheck.com provides a free resume template for teens that is very helpful.
Be persistent. Persistence pays off; send a thank-you note to interviewers, follow up if you do not hear about the job after a week, and keep applying.
Be creative. Look for work in places other than the mall. Get a few friends together and start a landscaping or babysitting business. Just make sure you always let your parents know where you are going to be.