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KID BITS

SOMETHING TO READ

"Tales From the Homeplace: Adventures of a Texas Farm Girl," by Harriet Burandt and Shelley Dale, Holt, 154 pages, $14.95.

The nine stories in this wonderful collection take place on a Texas cotton farm in the 1930s and feature 12-year-old Irene Hutto, a girl anybody today would call a hard head.

Anything could happen, and it does. There's the time Irene is lifeguarding her younger brothers and sisters at the swimming hole and watching for copperheads, when a hungry panther shows up. Brave Irene manages to lead everybody safely home, stalling the hungry cat by throwing biscuits, the baby's bottle and finally her clothes at him, one garment at a time.

Then there's the time she talks her father into letting her drive the mule wagon to the cotton gin and she ends up in a cactus patch. Or the time she saves Sydney, the retired racehorse, from the glue factory with an idea she sees in the Sears catalog while she's using the outhouse one day.

Cleverest of all, though, is her idea for making sure her cousin's fiance is an upstanding kind of guy with a trial by fire after a family dinner.

Shelley Dale got the idea for the book after hearing Harriet Burandt tell stories about her mother, the real Irene Hutto, and her adventures growing up in Texas. Ms. Dale wrote the first story, "The Panther," and convinced Ms. Burandt to collaborate on an entire collection, some based on true events, others more improvised. All are vivid and wonderful accounts of what it was like to grow up female in a big family in Texas in the '30s, a time when a girl knew how to use a shotgun but could get in lots of trouble for wearing a pair of shorts.
-- Jean Westmoore

SOMETHING TO DO

Summer seems a perfect time to learn something new, and the Buffalo Museum of Science has some special programs designed to do just that.

For kids 11 and older, "Walk Like an Egyptian" (Aug. 5 to 7, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.) will offer an opportunity to build a cartouche and an obelisk, even design a burial mask for a pharaoh. If you are faced with the Earth Science Regents exam, a special hands-on program (Aug. 5 to 8, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m) is a great way to prepare. Using the museum's collection, and with a fossil collecting and strata observation field trip, students will learn about geology, weather and astronomy. Also, kids 11 and over can learn how to use the latest in video equipment in a program called "Panasonic Kid-Vid Productions (Aug. 12 to 14, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.). Discover how to make an entertaining and informative video. Learn how to be a writer, director and star!

There is a fee for all these programs; for information, call 896-5200. To register, call 895-8739.

SOMETHING TO BUY

Tired of eating your snacks the same old way? Try ...

Nestles Pretzel Flipz ($2 for a 17.5-ounce bag at discount stores). These chocolate-covered pretzels offer that funky combo of sweet and salty tastes. Want some twisted ways of eating these? Here goes: Lick off the chocolate, then snarf the pretzel; bite into both chocolate and pretzel together; or gnaw the chocolate, then bite the pretzel, then gnaw more chocolate ... You can take it from here.

Candy Blox by Concord Confections ($4 at Toys R Us). These are like Legos you can munch on. You get 151 blocks in four sizes and seven flavors, like banana and grape, plus a building platform. Fit them together, make a building, then make like Godzilla and chow!

The Skittles Power Candy dispenser by Cap ($5 at Toys R Us). Push the button and Skittles pieces go over the rainbow before landing in your hand. The package includes dispenser, batteries and two mini-bags of candy (sorry, no pot of gold).

WRITE HERE, RIGHT NOW

Looking for a specific fan club? Write to:

The Fan Club Directory

2730 Baltimore Ave.

Pueblo, Colo. 81003

Q. Who sculpted Mount Rushmore?

A. Early this century, a South Dakota historian pushed the idea of turning mountains into sculptures. John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum, better-known as Gutzon Borglum, was hired, and in 1927 he started to carve on Mount Rushmore, up to 500 feet high. The idea was to carve huge likenesses of four presidents -- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Lack of money, though, caused delays, and Borglum was still working on the mountain in March 1941, when he died. His son, Lincoln, oversaw the final work on the heads that year.

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