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KID BITS

SOMETHING TO READ

Flower, a novel by Irene N. Watts (Tundra Press, $8.95 paperback).

Irene Watts, who won critical acclaim for "Finding Sophie," offers a vivid picture of London and Canada of the early 20th century in this beautifully written story weaving together the stories of a Toronto teenager and an orphan shipped off to Toronto at the beginning of the 20th century.

Thirteen-year-old Katie, who resents her new stepmother, is angry about getting sent to Halifax to stay with for the summer with her grandparents in an old Victorian mansion. There in the attic bedroom, Katie meets the ghost of orphan Lily, who enlightens her about the plight of orphans in the early 20th century.

With thousands of other homeless children, Lily was sent to the New World with the promise of a new home, but ended up working like a dog for nasty owners of a boarding house at the tender age of 12. The parallel stories work well enough, although Lily and her orphan friend are the most interesting part of the story.

(Fans of "Anne of Green Gables" will learn what a Barnado boy was. An afterword notes that more than 100,000 homeless children were sent to Canada from Britain between 1867 and 1967 and 30,000 of them came from Dr. Barnado's Homes.)

-- Jean Westmoore

SOMETHING TO WATCH

So what are 10 things you hate the most about school? Standardized tests? Cafeteria food? Cyberspace-bullies you can't escape? Check out "Nick News With Linda Ellerbee: 10 Things I Hate About School" airing at 8:30 p.m. April 24 ET (CHECK TIME) on Nickelodeon. Surveys conducted for the show reveal the top 10 peeves about school from kids around the nation. (Find the list at www.nick.com). And kids are rallying to do something about them. For example, a high school student from Washington State organized a campaign against standardized tests.

CELEBRATE EARTH DAY

The Hamburg Natural History Society will be celebrating Earth Day 2005 at the Penn Dixie Paelontological and Outdoor Education Center off Bayview Road in Hamburg on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. with a cleanup and spring planting. Volunteers will remove fallen trees and brush from nature trails and plant shrubs and trees with a special focus on the additional land purchased from the Town of Hamburg. Scouts and the public are welcome. Volunteers should bring a shovel, gloves and boots. Garbage bags will be provided. Call 627-4560 for additional information or go online to www.penndixie.org.