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Kid Bits


"Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again" by Frank Cottrell Boyce; illustrated by Joe Berger; Candlewick Press, $15.99.

After their inventor whiz of a father loses his job, the Tooting family sets out to tour the world in a camper van rebuilt using a hand-cranked -- and extremely powerful -- engine found lodged in a tree at a junk yard. This is not your ordinary vehicle, as the van seems to have a mind of its own. The Tooting parents and their three kids find themselves atop the Eiffel Tower at one point and plopped in front of the Sphinx in Egypt in another. But someone else seems to be extremely interested in their interesting vehicle -- and will do just about anything to steal it.

British author Frank Cottrell Boyce (whose children's novel "Millions" was made into a movie) was asked by the family of Ian Fleming to write this sequel to Fleming's original book, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: the Magical Car." Boyce does a fabulous job creating entertaining characters and mixing silliness and suspense.

An interesting note: Fleming, creator of the James Bond spy novels, based "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" on a real car, built by Count Zborowski in an attempt to break the world land-speed record in 1921. Fleming's book was made into a 1964 movie.

-- Jean Westmoore


The Riviera Theatre and YWCA of the Tonawandas continue the Family Film Series at 11 a.m. Saturday with "Big Miracle" (PG) at the theater, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda. Cost is $2. For information, call 692-2413.


Whether it's the squawk of a crow or the squeak of a cardinal, birds like to sing. Birds hit the high notes not because they are fans of rock 'n' roll, but because they are communicating with each other. Each birdcall has a different meaning. Sometimes males sing to attract a female. Other times, a male is warning other birds to keep away from his nest. Most birds only pay attention to birds that sound and look like them.

-- Time Book of Why