Inspiring news for and about Central Ohio parents!

Book lovers may want to mark their calendars for Jan. 27-29, when a new independent shop in Bexley celebrates its grand opening. Gramercy Books, founded by Linda Kass (wife of well-known developer Frank Kass) and John Gaylord (a veteran bookstore operator), is marking the occasion with special author visits. The lineup includes poet Maggie Smith, children's author and illustrator Will Hillenbrand and Goosebumps author R.L. Stine. Tickets are required for Stine's appearance.

Gramercy, which occupies 3,000 square feet at 2424 E. Main St., plans to host story times as well as author, songwriter and poetry series. The shop has a children's section as well as a Kitties Cakes café. For more information, go to gramercybooksbexley.com.

Hipster parents take note: What the Rock?! has relocated from the Short North to Clintonville. The boutique, which offers fun, funky merchandise for adults and children (think Johnny Cash, Ramones and Jimi Hendrix onesies), is now at 3039 Indianola Ave., Columbus. Comic-book fans will be pleased by the affiliation with Nix Comics, which has a spot inside the new store. Find them online at whattherock.com.

If you're looking for a new place for your pint-size charges to burn off energy (and who isn't in the dreary winter months), there's a new option in the Mill Run development near Hilliard. Tree of Life Play + Café has opened at 3708 Fishinger Blvd. in the former Boulevard Grill, next to Get Air Trampoline Park. The business offers a multilevel play space with tunnels and a ball pit for the under-46-inches crowd, as well as coffee and food. For more information, including hours and menus, go to treeoflifeplaycafe.com.

LifeTown Columbus, which helps special needs students gain independent-living skills, will expand its programming thanks to a grant from the Columbus Foundation.

The 5,000-square-foot New Albany facility, which opened in 2008, is set up like an indoor village where role play allows participants to practice life, social and pre-employment skills.

The $20,000 award, from the Henry E. Coyle, Frances M. King and Anna C. Dixon funds, will boost education focused on healthy living, reading and responding to social cues as well as technology. Part of the grant will help fund a staff member to operate Milo, a robot that engages children on the autism spectrum and teaches them social behaviors.

Last school year, 1,345 students from 20 public districts and six private schools visited LifeTown—one of two facilities of its kind in the country. Learn more at lifetowncolumbus.org.

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