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Kid bits

SOMETHING TO READ

King of Murder, a Herculeah Jones Mystery by Betsy Byars (Sleuth/Viking, $10.99). Ages 9 and up.

Herculeah Jones meets up with a very creepy mystery writer named Mathias King (Murder King) in this new mystery in Byars' series about the girl detective and her reluctant sidekick, Meat.

Not only does King have pointy teeth, he bases his books on real-life crimes -- and seems to want people to believe he himself might be the killer! So when he invites Herculeah to his house, of course she can't say no!

A girl detective has to take some risks but a daughter of a police lieutenant really should have better sense. Byars' books are entertaining, but kids, don't try this at home!

-- Jean Westmoore

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HELLO, SPIDEY!

Win a school visit from Spider-Man through the SmallStep Challenge, a new online contest that aims to teach kids 6 to 11 about healthy eating and exercise. Kids log onto www.smallstep.gov and answer questions, in English or Spanish, about healthy eating. Each time a child logs on and answers questions, he/ she is entered in the grand-prize drawing. Weekly prizes include logo caps, sweatshirts and water bottles from the National Basketball Association and Women's National Basketball Association. The contest, by the Advertising Council and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, runs through March 30.

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VOTE FOR BOOKS! Kids 8 to 14 are urged to vote for their three favorite books in this year's Kids Choice Book Awards of the Buffalo Alliance for Education. Go online to www.buffaloalliance.org/?option=com_kids_choice and pick from a long list that includes everything from Lemony Snicket titles to Louis Sachar's "Holes." Voting ends March 24.

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SOMETHING TO WATCH

"Barbie Live in Fairytopia" comes to Shea's Performing Arts Center May 5-7. Tickets ($14 to $40) go on sale March 20. Call 852-5000, go to www.ticketmaster.com or any Ticketmaster outlet including Kaufmann's Dept. Stores and Shea's Ticket Office.

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KIDS COOK!

Kids of all ages are invited to be part of a Kids Cook charity event presented by Wegmans from 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday, April 2, at the Ralph Wilson Stadium Fieldhouse in Orchard Park. Kids will work with local chefs to create a family-style meal. Cost is $50 a family (two adults and two kids) plus $10 for any additional kids. The money will go to a good cause: Carly's Club, which offers support programs for young cancer patients and families, and Essential Care for Children, which provides home visits so seriously ill kids can avoid hospital stays and emergency room visits. For information, call 845-8788 or go online wot www.KidsCookWNY.com.

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MINI HA-HA

How does an alligator use the telephone?

He croco-dials!

SOURCE: "Great Book of School Jokes"

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