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SOMETHING TO READ

"Biggest Bugs (life-size)" by George Beccaloni; Firefly Books; $19.95.

You probably have never seen the longest insect in the world, unless you've been high up in the rain forest canopy of Borneo Island in Malaysia. A female Chan's Megastick is 14 inches long! And this book uses a three-page spread to give you the life-size version.

Other fascinating insects featured in this interesting book (illustrated with photos and maps) are cockroaches with a wing span of more than 7 inches, Amazonian Giant Centipedes that hang upside down in caves and catch bats, and beetles whose jaws can snap a pencil in half. And many of them have names that give a clue how big they are: the Rhinoceros Cockroach, Colossus Earwig, Goliath Bird-Eating Spider (which can live to be up to 20 years old and prefers to eat beetles, crickets, small mammals, reptiles and frogs).

The author started collecting insects when he was 10 years old and living in Zimbabwe and is a curator at the Natural History Museum in London. He notes that insects living today are much smaller than fossil species. One millipede-like creature grew to more than 8 feet long!

-- Jean Westmoore

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SOMETHING TO DO

Kids ages 10 and under are invited to enter the Matt James coloring contest. Deadline is Jan. 28. To download the picture to be colored and for more information about the contest, visit www.coolmusicforkids.com/2011_mattjames_coloringcontest.html. Two grand prizes for tickets to the WNED Kid Fest will be awarded along with 20 first prizes for a new CD.

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WACKY FACT

Arthur "Spud" Melin and his friend, Richard Knerr, invented the Hula Hoop after they saw Australian children twirling wooden hoops around their waists. The pair gave their hip-swiveling plastic toy its famous name. The Hula Hoop was a huge success for the toy company Wham-O. It sold 25 million hoops in the first four months of production in 1958.

-- From "TIME Book of Why"