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Dawn Killenberg, part-time freelancer and full-time mom, savors the    fun and the exhaustion of summer vacation with her twins.
Dawn Killenberg, part-time freelancer and full-time mom, savors the fun and the exhaustion of summer vacation with her twins.

What to do when a 12-year-old niece visits Atlanta from a small town in NC?

Day 1: Phipp’s Plaza, Lenox Mall and Atlantic Station. My rationale was let’s get the shopping out of the way first. So, quick stops at Justice, Old Navy, H&M, and Urban Outfitters seemed to satisfy her need to experience Big City Shopping.

Day 2: The High Museum catches her interest - she enjoys Art at school, and she is a visual person - very into fashion, movies, the usual 12-year-old stuff. So, we check out the Automotive Exhibit which only mildly holds her interest. We then venture over to the permanent collection. The modern art befuddles her - “seems like a kid could create it.” And the other stuff just seems “old”. I know there is a teaching moment here - but lacking an Art History degree myself, I could use some help with it. I wish for the High Museum for Dummies - Special Teenager Edition. We do have some success in the gift shop with its collection of interesting items and fun applications of the art. Isn’t that ironic? For a 12-year-old girl, it always seems to come to life at retail.

Day 3: She likes history and just studied WWII. So we watch GPB’s Diary of Anne Frank (which I’ve successfully DVR’d). My ten-year-olds loved it - except for the ending - they were hoping for something a little more American Girl like. But my niece is older and has studied the Holocaust, so she picks up on the foreshadowed ending of the story. It grabs her, and she wants to go to the Anne Frank Exhibit in Sandy Springs.

Day 4: I must admit I drive OTP (outside the perimeter) with some degree of trepidation. Could this exhibit really warrant leaving my intown neighborhood? I was encouraged to know that we could have lunch at the Flying Biscuit on Roswell Road if the Exhibit proved to be a bust. The non-descript strip mall where the Exhibit is located is easily reached - less than a mile north of 285. We enter the small space and are immediately greeted by a friendly docent who steers us to a back room for a short film. Along the corridor, a wonderful array of student art begs us to stop and look. Apparently, the Exhibit stages an Art Contest each year with Middle and High School art inspired by Anne Frank’s story. Now this is art that catches my niece’s attention. And some of it is not only thought-provoking, but really well-done art. It has a context that she can relate to - tells a story that she knows. The short film does a great job of placing Anne Frank’s story into the greater context of the rise of Nazism, Hitler’s movement to eradicate Jews across Europe and Poland, and ultimately the consequences of WWII.

After the movie, we walked through the exhibit which is a relatively short maze of hanging storyboards with pictures and explanations. It is low-tech, but very powerful and visually engaging. Not an uplifting afternoon, but an important one that educated and inspired.

Our mood was lifted with a lunch of breakfast food at The Flying Biscuit Cafe - a bit further North on Roswell Road.