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"Blue Lightning," by Barbara Timberlake Russell; Viking, 122 pages, $13.99.

One summer day Calvin Doogan is knocked unconscious by a bolt of lightning (attracted by his aluminum baseball bat). While floating near death in the emergency room, he sees his long-dead father smiling at him.

Calvin awakes from his near-death experience -- but another boy in the emergency room at the same time, with injuries from a car crash, isn't near death, but is dead. His troubled spirit uses Calvin's body to travel back to the land of the living, apparently to take care of some kind of unfinished business.

While the angry "Rory" ghost wreaks havoc on Calvin's family farm, Calvin tries desperately to figure out what that unfinished business could be. Could it have something to do with the all-star baseball game both he and Rory were chosen to play in? Will Rory's father have the answer? And why won't anybody talk to him about his own father, who also loved baseball?

The author, who explored the subject of a young boy dealing with death in "Last Left Standing," has perfected her art in this wonderful story of a boy learning about life and family and love that lasts beyond the grave. It has the same kind of magic and human connection found in Sharon Creech's Newbery winner, "Walk Two Moons."
-- Jean Westmoore


Check in with animals like Nina, Arrow and Misty the dolphins. Have your face painted. Enjoy some hands-on activities. Meet Buster Bison, Sabretooth and Spyke. All these fun events is will take place Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Aquarium of Niagara during its SEA and Do Festival.

The activities are geared for the whole family. Admission is $6.25 for adults, $4.25 for kids 4 to 12; children 3 and under get in for free. The aquarium is at 701 Whirlpool St., Niagara Falls.


If you've never seen the Walt Disney animated movie "Sleeping Beauty" (1959, 75 minutes), now's the time to check out the video. It's one of the better treasures from the bottomless vault of Disney classics, and certainly one of the most lavish and expensive animated features ever produced. This fully restored, limited-edition rerelease includes a 16-minute featurette: "Once Upon a Dream: The Making of Sleeping Beauty." The title will be available only until Dec. 31.


The Kidnews staff at the Chicago Tribune admits they aren't too crazy about Tamagotchis, but when they heard about Tamagotchi the game (about $14 at toy stores), they thought it might be something they could manage. (Yeah! No beeping!)

Well, they concluded, this game is lame.

The object is to be the first one to get your (cardboard) pet to the fully grown stage. To do this, you move around the board earning food, medicine and discipline cards. You trade these cards in when you need to take care of your pet. When you meet the requirements, you get to move your pet along on a growth meter.

It's all pretty mindless. And the game's not even cute: The game board, cards, tokens and playing pieces are flimsy.

The whole thing is basically Candy Land, but not as sweet. (And you outgrew that game eons ago, right?)


Write to Nintendo at:

4820 150th Ave.

Redmond, Wash. 98052
Q. Who said the first word?

A. Some answers are lost in the past. The problem is that people started yakking long before anyone could write. So nobody wrote down the names of the first talkers. Besides, unless the first words were names, nobody even had names yet! From looking at fossils, scientists think our ancestors might have been able to talk more than 1 million years ago. Writing came along less than 6,000 years ago. That's why we'll never know a lot about the beginnings of many earlier things, such as religion, music, clothes, wheels, weapons, campfires, boats and pets.

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