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Well Spent: The Back to School Edition 

click to enlarge Stylish back-to-school looks from Le Shag in Kingston
  • Stylish back-to-school looks from Le Shag in Kingston

That hint of fall in the air can only mean one thing: it’s back to school time for Hudson Valley kids. Public schooled, private schooled, home schooled—that studious spirit settles on everyone. Here’s a tip: skip the mall melées and head to these local havens instead. They have everything from notebooks to cleats, dresses to pink ombre hair to James Baldwin to lunchboxes. Happy September!

Subject objects

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Catskill Art and Office Supply (locations in Poughkeepsie, Woodstock, and Kingston) stocks color-drenched Clairefontaine notebooks in snazzy orange, apple green, bright purple and more. Kids love assembling a whole range of shapes and sizes, from little memo books ($5.25) to thick spiral notebooks, a different color for each subject ($12.50). There's also a faux leather style for that seriously serious look. The shop also stocks money-saving refills for pens you never thought were refillable, such for as the Pilot G2 (in tons of colors), as well as so many different kinds of pencils, you could create your own museum: sketch, mechanical, eraser-topped, and more.


Art projects

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Sketch Hudson (in Hudson) has loads of great art supplies and craft projects to get those creative juices flowing, including Caran d'Ache Neocolor crayons, which can be used as watercolors and safe face paint too. Set of 15 in a metal case, $35. Creativity for Kids makes super-fun project kits for ages 5 and up, including the ever-popular Pirate Ship ($6.49), Color-n-Tattoo Party with over 40 temporary tattoos ($6.99), and the Mini Pop-Up Book kit, which lets kids create the very own pop-up books ($6.99).


Required reading

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Here's a smart way to stock up on required reading: head to Magpie Bookshop in Catskill and find it on the shelves. The stacks are packed with gently used books—from children's favorites to all that 20th-century lit the English teacher's just called for—Orwell, Wright, Woolf, Plath, Baldwin, and much more ($2-$5). There are also great British authors, full sets and singles of beloved series, Newbery Award winners, picture books, young readers—you name it. If you're not a book lover, you may become one by the time you leave.


Toteable and notable

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In that way some kids love to carry the coolest things ever, the Golden Notebook in Woodstock has two treasures with great appeal. The Fender Amplifier lunchbox is a bestselling, miniature metal model of that classic Fender amp and lends instant Rock Academy cred ($14.99). And a new book about scientist Marie Curie, Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout turns reading into a multifaceted and science-positive experience—the illustrations were made with the same technique Curie used in her laboratory, and the accompanying website is riveting ($21.99).


Little's vittles

Boom Baby boutique in High Falls is not just for babies. There's plenty for older kids too, including lots of school-ready accessories, like charming animal print lunch bags and bento boxes by Green Sprout in canvas, cotton, BPA- and PVC-free materials ($6.95-$17.95). There are also lunch bags, drink cups and backpacks by designer Penny Scallan in adorable patterns such as Russian Dolls and Apples, all made from BPA-free, 100 percent cotton ($25-$55).


Hippie kids

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Forget the preppy look: at the Groovy Blueberry in New Paltz your tyke can turn into a happy little hippie. The shop's hand-dyed, US-made clothing is vibrant and fun: T-shirts in long and short sleeves are tie-dyed with blues and purples, oranges and reds and more, and emblazoned with raucous hearts and starbursts; kid-hipster swirl hoodies tell a psychedelic story; and the inside-out seam dresses are local little girl must-haves. There are plenty of yoga pants too. Sizes 2R to 14 (shirts, $12.99-$19.99; hoodies, $45.99; dresses and pants, $22.99 and up). And you'll find tie-dye at a discount at the store's local outlet shop.


Up to speed

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Quackles Baby and Children's Boutique in Poughkeepsie offers all manner of footwear to keep your children moving, from school uniform shoes by Stride Rite, Merrell and Pedipeds to a dazzling array of colorful, fun and (most important) cool sneakers. Among the most coveted are bright colored Saucony sneakers for both boys and girls; the latest Star Wars Force Speed sneakers in black and citron (for boys, $58) and Disney Winter Silver sneakers a la Frozen (for girls, $55), both by Stride Rite. There are also superhero, plain, and of course, light-up sneakers—the better to match every kid's sneaker desires.


Go team

From the littlest kickers on up to varsity, outfit your aspiring champion at Goal Evolution Athletic Supply in Hopewell Junction. There's everything for football, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, and more for both girls and boys, from practice and warm-up to spiffy team uniforms, including all the right gear, footwear and apparel. Sizes start at youth and girls small and go right up to adult, and a helpful staff to boot.


Long in the front

Get the kids a back to school haircut they can be proud of at Le Shag in uptown Kingston. You won't find shopping-mall, cookie-cutter shearings here: the team of friendly and talented stylists will work nearly any magic your child wants (with your approval), from a streak of pink to long tresses in front. Children's hair styling is more creative and versatile than even, so don't be surprised if you're fielding a request from Timmy for blue streaks—and if you choose to oblige him, rest assured all the processes are safely done. Depending on the haircutter, cuts range from $15-$30. Call for an appointment: (845) 338-0191.


Keep Your Children Well

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The news is in: too much homework, too much pressure, lots of germs—keep your kids healthy with natural immune and wellness boosters from Village Apothecary in Saugerties. This is no garden variety dinosaur vitamin dispensary: the staff here are serious about their probiotics (a great choice, in soluble powders or capsules, for bolstering immunity). For general health they recommend a good dose of fish oil: Wiley's Finest makes Orange Burst for kids (8 ounces, $19.99); and another immune booster that just happens to taste great on pancakes is Gaia Herbs' elderberry syrup (3 ounces, $15.99). Pack a healthy dose of pure energy in their backpacks with assorted Larabars, made of fruit and nuts ($1.89).


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