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KIDS BITS

SOMETHING TO READ
A House of Tailors by Patricia Reilly Giff (Wendy Lamb Books, $15.95).

In a small town in Germany during the Franco-Prussian War, young Dina Kirk spends long hours at the sewing machine to help her mother support the family. After she is wrongly accused of being a spy for the French, her mother ships her off to America to live with an uncle. But the streets of Brooklyn are not paved with gold; her uncle is not rich. He works all day and sews all night and expects Dina to do the same. She must stifle her outspoken ways and live in a stuffy small apartment while a terrifying smallpox epidemic sweeps New York. Homesick for her older sister and her mother, Dina decides she will work as hard as possible so she can someday return home to Germany. But along the way, she finds herself growing attached to her new country -- and even developing a real interest in hatmaking and fine sewing.

Giff based this fascinating novel of the immigrant experience on her great-grandmother's life story. Other fine books by Giff include "Lily's Crossing" and "Pictures of Hollis Woods" and "Nory Ryan's Song."

SOMETHING TO DO
The Missoula Children's Theatre returns to Lockport's Kenan Center for a week-long residency featuring 50 local kids ages 5 to 18 in a musical adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book" to be performed at 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday at Lockport Senior High School, 250 Lincoln Ave. Tickets are $4. Call 433-2617.

COUNT OLAF COUNTDOWN
Time is running out to send in your stories in the Reading Is Fundamental's "Cunning Count Olaf Composition Contest" for kids 8 to 15 based on the Lemony Snicket's Unfortunate Events series. Mail your story of 1,000 words or less and completed entry form by Nov. 12 to: Count Olaf Story Contest/c/o Reading Is Fundamental/1825 Connecticut Ave. NW/Suite 400/Washington, DC 20009. Find contest rules and entry form at the Web site, www.rif.org/readingplanet/content/count_olaf_contest.mspx