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>SOMETHING TO READ

"The Lost Hero: The Heroes of Olympus Book One" by Rick Riordan; Disney Hyperion; $18.99; 553 pages.

Fans of the "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series will love this marvelous follow-up series based on a new prophecy and featuring some Olympians characters in smaller roles. There's nonstop action; the same fascinating interplay of gods, other characters from mythology and teen demigods; familiar locations like Quebec City, Detroit or Chicago, where some very scary things await, and plenty of emotion, as demigods struggle with issues of identity and the legacy of childhood scars.

The action begins a few months after "The Last Olympian." Jason wakes up on a bus with problem kids from the Wilderness School. He has no memory of his past life, or a girl named Piper who claims to be his girlfriend, or Leo, who claims to be his best friend. The bus arrives at the Grand Canyon, when storm spirits attack. Annabeth arrives, hunting for Percy, and takes Jason, Piper and Leo to Camp Half-Blood, where they find out for the first time that they are demigods, something which puts their past troubled lives in a new light. There is a difference: Their parents are the Roman gods (Jupiter, not Zeus, etc.). The nonstop action includes interesting weaponry, terrifying battles, a mechanical flying dragon and all manner of narrow escapes. (How clever that Monocle Motors is the home of a Cyclops with a son named Torque!) The next book comes out this fall.

-- Jean Westmoore

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>FUN FACTS

*Taking your hat off indoors developed in part as a sign of peace -- think of knights removing their helmets after a match -- and of cleanliness. Hats used to get dirty on farms and in factories. Your hat could get soiled even as you walked down the street: People used to throw trash (or human waste!) out their windows.

*Manners are culture-specific. Just because it's OK to burp loudly in one country doesn't mean it's OK here. "Use the rules of your own group," said manners expert Pier Forni.

*The word "manners" comes from the Latin word "manus," which means "hand." "Manners are a way of handling things," Forni said.

*An old book on manners from the Middle Ages explained that "when you blow your nose into your handkerchief, you shouldn't look into it as though rubies and pearls had fallen from your brains," Forni said. Well put!

-- Washington Post

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>MINI HA-HA

What do you get if you feed a lemon to your cat?

A sourpuss.

-- "The Biggest Riddle Book in the World"