Notable News: New American Girls, Luna Park Deal, a Special Lion King Performance and Tooth Fairy Woes

Roundup of News and Links for NYC Kids and Families

Everyone else is screaming, "back to school!" But here we are, still in summer vacation mode.

Why not? There are still 16 days until public school starts (including today, of course!) We don't want to let the fun go. And that attitude extends to our news this week which, for the most part, is of the lighter variety.

We've got the scoop on two new American Girl dolls, an awesome discount to Coney Island's Luna Park and the financial woes of Tooth Fairies everywhere. Plus, we have a few serious tidbits, including info on an autism-friendly performance of The Lion King on Broadway.

American Girl BFFs All of you with AG-obsessed daughters, get ready to spend. For the first time ever, the company is debuting two new dolls simultaneously. On Tuesday, August 30, you can meet the gal pals from New Orleans: feisty Cecile Rey and gentle Marie-Grace Gardner, who, though of different races and backgrounds, bond over their shared love of music and help their neighbors during the Big Easy's 1853 yellow fever epidemic. Yes, the dual launch is a clever way to boost sales, but it's tied into a wonderful cause. New Orleans native Harry Connick, Jr. and his daughter Kate have recorded a song about the dolls’ friendship, "A Lot Like Me," which is available on iTunes. All proceeds from the tune will go to the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, located in the heart of Musicians' Village in the Upper Ninth Ward, which is still rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina. If you decide to meet (okay fine, buy) the dolls in person at American Girl Place, we recommend making an afternoon of it and staying for tea.

The Lion's King Lots of kids (and parents!) have enjoyed The Lion King on Broadway over the past 14 years, but on Sunday, October 2, the show is reaching out to a very specific demographic: children on the autism spectrum. The creative team worked with therapists and other experts to alter that particular matinee to accommodate the kids. In addition to dampening sudden noises and strobe lights, there will be quiet areas in the lobby staffed with autism experts. Unfortunately this first-of-its-kind performance sold out just days after it was announced, but the nonprofit behind the venture, the Theatre Development Fund, hopes to do similar events in the future. If you're interested, sign up for the email list.

New New Mom Help I've known many moms who've suffered from some form of postpartum depression, and getting the proper help to cure the "baby blues" is often difficult to find. Some savvy doctors in North Carolina want to change that. A new ward geared toward women with postpartum depression is being built at the UNC Center for Women's Mood Disorders. In addition to offering medical services, it will have breast pumps, comfortable chairs and extended visiting hours so moms can continue to try to bond with their babies, even while hospitalized. The directors of this clinic hope it will inspire similar wards across the country. C'mon NYC, let's get one going! 

Pay to Play Ever year, we include many of Riverside Park's free Summer on the Hudson activities in our Event Calendar and our Summer Fun Guide. So we were distressed (if not surprised) to hear that the series is facing financial woes. According to Riverside Park Director of Public Programming Zhen Heinemann, the corporate sponsors who usually foot the bill aren't being as generous these days, so the organization launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for summer 2012 a few months back. Total to date? $120. No, we didn’t forget a zero, and that's from just two donors. Although Heinemann is encouraging folks to donate $20, she'll take any amount. The fundraising continues through September 18.

Luna Park for Less The Coney Island amusement park is offering a cool end-of-summer deal: New Yorkers can snag unlimited four-hour wristbands for 50% off, which means you pay just 13 bucks to make yourself dizzy. There is a catch, but it's kind of cute: The deal applies to residents of different boroughs on each day. Monday is Brooklyn, Tuesday is Staten Island, Wednesday is the Bronx and Queens, and Thursday is Manhattan. Be sure to bring your New York State Driver's License, they're asking for proof of address! The "borough pride" bargain ends on September 1.

Woot! There it is Every year, the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (the hipper, slimmer sibling of the Oxford English Dictionary) incorporates new words, phrases and slang that reflect contemporary parlance. This edition's new additions include woot, jeggings, mankini, sexting and retweet. Someone needs to alert the spell-check gurus, stat! Some old-school words also got additional definitions: meanings for friend include "a contact on a social networking website," and when you look up cougar, you find "an older woman seeking a sexual relationship with a younger man." The editors announced this news on (where else?) their blog. Acronyms such as LOL, OMG and IMHO were inducted into the Oxford English Dictionary earlier this year. I guess that's great news for tweens and Scrabble players.

Tooth Fairy Ache According to a recent poll, the Tooth Fairy is feeling the effects of the economy. Payment for losing a tooth has decreased 40 cents on average, from $3 to $2.60. I for one was shocked by the results of this survey: I thought the going rate for a tooth was in the $5 range! I love polls like this because they give you insight into how other families tackle "traditional" things. How much do you give per tooth, and are you considering cutting your budget?

Image: Lisa Sanderson