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SOMETHING TO READ

"Close to Famous" by Joan Bauer; Viking, 250 pages ($16.99)

When 12-year-old Foster and her mother flee Memphis and her mother's abusive boyfriend, they end up in the tiny town of Culpepper, living in a trailer.

Foster loves to bake, a talent she learned from cooking shows, and she soon makes a big impression on the local diner with her muffins and cupcakes. She also makes the acquaintance of a reclusive movie star who discovers Foster's secret -- she has never learned to read -- and starts to tutor her.

Anyone who loves books that mention food will enjoy Foster's love of baking and her experiments with new recipes (including a pineapple upside down cupcake!). The author throws into this book an astonishing number of ingredients (domestic violence, the war in Iraq, Foster's learning difficulties, her mother's singing talent, a town in turmoil over a new prison, a food network star's tragic accident, the movie star's comeback, a dramatic showdown with the ex-boyfriend), but Foster is an appealing character and we do love reading about all those cupcakes!

Other books by this author: "Rules of the Road," "Hope Was Here," "Peeled"

-- Jean Westmoore

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CALLING ALL POETS

Enter a funny, rhyming poem into the Time For Kids Poetry Contest. The winner will receive a virtual class visit from poet Kenn Nesbitt and a signed copy of a book of his poetry. E-mail your poem to contestpoetry4kids.com. The deadline is March 1. For rules, go to timeforkids.com/poetrycontest.

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WACKY FACT

With 150,000 gallons of water going over the falls every second, it's nearly impossible for Niagara Falls or the Niagara River to freeze over. However, an ice bridge often forms at the base of the falls and over a part of the Niagara River below the falls.

-- Time Book of Why