Family Events in Boston This Weekend

All the best things to do as a family this weekend in Boston.

The giant, animatronic Mexican red knee tarantula at the Franklin Park Zoo. / Photo courtesy of the Franklin Park Zoo

Are You a Giraffe? Book Launch & Reading

Children’s book author and illustrator Karen Gross brings her stories to life through the use of puppetry, music and art activities. Her work as a children’s educator has included a stint as a senior policy advisor to the U.S. Department of Education and a writer on education issues for publications like the New England Journal of Higher Ed. Join her for the debut of her new Lady Lucy book, which follows Lucy on her journey to find a giraffe friend through simple words and repetition.

Free, Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-11 a.m., More Than Words Warehouse Bookstore, 242 East Berkeley St., Boston.

Japanese House: Create Your Own Kami-kabuto – Paper Samurai Helmet!

On May 5, Japanese families celebrate Boy’s Day by displaying colorful banners called Koinobori, miniature sets of samurai armor and Japanese figurines outside of their homes. Slip off your shoes and step inside the Boston Children’s Museum’s 100-year-old Japanese House, where you can craft your own newspaper samurai helmet, or Kami-kabuto, in celebration of this traditional spring holiday.

$17, Thursday-Sunday, 12:10 p.m.-2:30 p.m., Boston Children’s Museum, 308 Congress St., Boston.

Astronomy After Hours

This summer, museum visitors can head to the Gilliland Observatory on Friday nights for a peek at the stars and planets through the lens of an 11-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope—if the sky is clear, that is. If it’s cloudy, take a tour of the Observatory anyway, and run through hands-on space activities with museum staff.

Adult: $26, Child: $21, Friday, 8:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m., Gilliland Observatory, Museum of Science, Boston, 1 Science Park, Boston.

Wicked Big Bugs

Did you know that the measly ant can carry 10 to fifteen times its own body weight? Bugs like ants are essential to a healthy ecosystem, but that doesn’t stop them from getting seriously overlooked in the animal kingdom. This seasonal exhibit at the zoo features a series of giant, hard-to-miss animatronic bugs—from the red-tailed bumblebee to the Madagascan sunset moth. Get up close and personal with the 15-foot emperor scorpion’s tail, climb through a human-sized rope spider web, or take a story walk through Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar to celebrate the book’s 50th anniversary.

$2, plus general admission, Saturday and Sunday 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Franklin Park Zoo, 1 Franklin Park Rd., Boston.

Peering through a telescope at the Museum of Science, Boston. / Photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki

Pinocchio

The National Marionette Theater’s retelling of this classic fairytale by Carlo Collodi features beloved characters like the Blue Fairy and humongous Whale. Learn with Pinocchio and his unfortunate growing nose as he discovers that values of kindness and honesty are what truly define a real boy.

$12, Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., Puppet Showplace Theater, 32 Station St., Brookline.

Once Upon a Time…Stories at the Symphony

Featuring music by Boston Pops Conductor Laureate John Williams, as well as Pulitzer-prize nominated composer James Leckle, this Boston Pops performance promises to take young listeners on “a variety of musical and literary odysseys.” Storytelling segments will accompany the music, with narration by Dr. Mike Massimino to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, as well as a rendition of Lemony Snicket’s whodunit mystery The Composer is Dead by local actor Jeremiah Kissel.

$30+, Saturday, 3 p.m., Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston.

The Castle of Cagliostro

This season, the Harvard Film Archive’s discounted family film screenings highlight a series of hand-drawn anime films, shown in their original formats. In director Hayao Miyazaki’s first film, The Castle of Cagliostro, the clever, shapeshifting thief Arsène Lupin III and his partner must rescue a damsel in distress from an evil Count, all while pursued by the relentless Inspector Zenigata.

$5, Saturday, 3 p.m., Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, 24 Quincy St., Cambridge.

Shear Madness

Even after 38 years of performances, this wildly popular improvised stage show still plays every summer at the Charles Playhouse. Audiences interact directly with actors on stage, helping to spot clues, question the suspects and solve the hilarious murder mystery that takes place in the Shear Madness hair salon. No performance is ever the same, which might be why the Boston Globe has voted this play “Best Comedy of the Year” a whopping seven times.

$58, Various dates and times, Charles Playhouse, 74 Warrenton St., Boston.