We all know that the mass media dangle the strings of our little ones' minds -- must we utter the word Barney to make our point? But there are alternatives to the onslaught, and they're fun ones. Since 1983, the nonprofit Great Arizona Puppet Theater has been thrilling young audiences all over the state with its year-round performances. Puppet shows would seem to be passé in this age of Xbox, but a look-see at any of the shows proves otherwise. With their enduring theme of Arizona as a great place to be -- hey, why not? -- the puppeteers embrace ancient fairy tales, Native American themes and desert life with their lovable little characters. The theater features summer puppet classes for kids through the sixth grade and more. If given the chance, it'll also make your kid's birthday party a memorable one.