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Kid bits

>SOMETHING TO READ

The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth by Kathleen Krull (illustrated by Greg Couch) Alfred A. Knopf, $16.99.

It's hard to imagine now what life was like before radio or TV, but Kathleen Krull paints a vivid picture in this fascinating picture book biography of an inventor most people have probably never heard of.

Born on a Utah farm in 1906, Philo showed an early interest in all things mechanical, including steam-powered trains and hand-cranked telephones. As a boy he figured out how to fix an electrical generator and won a prize in an inventing competition for inventing an ignition lock that would make a Model T Ford harder to steal.

Krull notes that the inspiration for his "Image Dissector" came when Philo was plowing the potato field and noticed the parallel lines of potatoes. (He was only a freshman in high school when he shared this idea with his chemistry teacher, and his teacher backed him up when the giant RCA corporation disputed his patent.) A detailed note at the end explains why most people have never heard of Farnsworth.

Krull wrote excellent biographies of Isaac Newton and Leonardo da Vinci in the Giants of Science series for middle-grade readers.

-- Jean Westmoore

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>CLAY PLAY

Hurry! You only have a few days to enter the Play-Doh contest.

Make your own Play-Doh version of some kind of food. Upload the photo at www.ReadyGoPlayDoh. com by Wednesday and you could win a $5,000 playroom makeover and a $5,000 school Doh-nation. Online entrants must be parents over the age of 18 who have a child ages 10 or younger. For contest rules and some inspirational ideas, go to www.ReadyGoPlayDoh.com.

One fun way to get started would be to pick up the new Burger Builder set, which comes with five cans of Play-Doh and everything you need to make faux patties, buns, tomatoes, lettuce and fries.

-- Catherine Mallette, Fort Worth Star-Telegram