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Kid Bits

SOMETHING TO READ

Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley, Harper Collins, $15.99.

It lacks the wacky humor of Gail Carson-Levine's "Enchanted," but this entertaining novel is also based on the Cinderella story and readers will love the characters, the suspense and the romance. Bella is part Cinderella and part Joan of Arc; part of the story even seems a bit like the father-losing-his-fortune story in "Beauty and the Beast."

Bella is from a noble family but her mother dies in childbirth, and her father gives her to a peasant family to be raised and she grows up illiterate, but happy, knowing nothing about her real family. Eventually her father remarries and reclaims his daughter, who is mistreated by her new stepmother. There's a fortune-telling ring, a fancy ball, glass slippers, a murder plot, a rescue, a mysterious knight and a happily-ever-after ending. It's almost too much for one book, but it's still fun.

-- Jean Westmoore

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APRIL FOOL FUN

Here are two tricks to play for April Fools Day:

NO YOLK: Slip this decoy into your brother's lunch box: It's a faux hard-boiled egg that contains a hidden message. To make one, first vigorously shake a raw egg to break up the yolk, then use a pushpin to chip out a 1/4 -inch hole in each end of the shell and blow out the yolk. Rinse inside of the egg well and let dry completely. Seal one hole with a small square of matching tissue paper and a mixture of equal parts white glue and water, then let it dry. Write an April Fools' greeting on a small piece of paper, roll it up tightly, then slip it into the egg through the remaining hole. Seal the hole as you did the first one and let it dry.

PERPLEXING PENCIL: This doctored pencil will befuddle anyone who tries to use it. Simply dip the lead of a somewhat dull rounded pencil in white glue. Let it dry, then dip it again. Repeat to add more coats, if necessary. When the glue dries (it will be clear), the pencil will look normal, but it won't make a mark. To relieve your friend's bewilderment, just peel off the dried glue or scribble with the pencil a bit to wear it away.

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MINI HA-HA

Are you going to visit Egypt?

I sphinx so!

SOURCE: "Great Book of School Jokes"

-- Knight Ridder Newspapers