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>SOMETHING TO READ

"Little Blog on the Prairie" by Cathleen Davitt Bell; Bloomsbury, 274 pages ($16.99).

Thirteen-year-old Genevieve Welsh is expecting a normal routine of soccer camp and hanging at the pool for the summer before high school.

Then her mother signs the family up for a Frontier Camp vacation in Wyoming -- living as 1890s pioneers in rude cabins, sleeping on scratchy mattresses, wearing woolen clothes (including, for the women, pantaloons and petticoats), using an outhouse, milking cows, gathering eggs and raising their own food if they don't want to starve. Plus it's set up as a competition pitting four families against each other, and the Welshes appear to be losing.

Breaking the rules, Genevieve hangs on to her cell phone, sending regular texts to a friend from "Little Hell on the Prairie," which her friend posts online to become an Internet sensation and a major problem when a television station gets wind of the story.

This suspenseful novel offers an entertaining contrast between the realities of pioneer life and our wired world along with plenty of humor, suspense and even a touch of romance.

-- Jean Westmoore

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>SOMETHING TO DO

Here's something to cool you off after sitting in a hot, stuffy classroom all day.

Don't be surprised if this sponge-toss game turns into an all-out water battle. The goal is to get wet; winning points just adds to the fun.

Each player gets a small bucket filled with water, and a big car wash sponge. Players stand about eight feet apart with their buckets on the ground directly in front of them. Each player tries to throw her wet sponge into the other's bucket (and splash the other player, of course!). Each successful toss is worth one point. The sponges are thrown back and forth until one player reaches an agreed-upon point total -- or both players just start throwing sponges at each other.

-- From Disney FamilyFun magazine

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WACKY FACTS

*The top three animal families with the most known species are insects and other arthropods, mollusks and fish.

*The top three heaviest marine mammals are the blue whale, the fin whale and the right whale.

*The top three largest planets are Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus.

-- From 2010 Almanac for Kids

-- McClatchy Newspapers