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>SOMETHING TO READ

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay; David Fickling Books, $16.99. Ages 10 and up.

Sixteen-year-old Bernardo lives with his aunt and uncle in the mountain village of San Andres in the Philippines and is just waiting for the day when he can finally join his mother, half-sister and stepfather in London.

The villagers, however, believe Bernardo is their good luck and the only thing that saves them from constant earthquakes, and his departure will mean bad luck for everyone. Meanwhile, in London, his younger sister Andi is eagerly looking forward to having a brother and is hoping Bernardo will be as crazy about basketball as she is. She knows Bernardo is tall, but she has no idea how tall he really is.

This funny and heartwarming novel from an author who was born in the Philippines offers memorable characters and a touching brother-sister relationship along with a vivid look at culture clash and the peer pressure of fitting in, no matter what country you live in.

-- Jean Westmoore

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SOMETHING TO DO

Take some pictures. The fifth annual National Geographic Photography Contest is under way. Contestants ages 6 to 14 may enter through Oct. 31 by submitting one photo in any or all of four categories -- people, animals, scenery and humor -- to kids.nationalgeographic.com. The grand-prize winner will receive a trip to Costa Rica. For more information, visit http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/activities/contests/photo-contest/.

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SOMETHING TO LEARN

You've got mail! People send billions of e-mails by using the Internet. The first person to send an e-mail, or electronic mail, was Ray Tomlinson. In 1971, Tomlinson was working on a computer system that would later become the Internet. He found he needed a better way to leave messages on the computers of his fellow workers. He used the @ sign to separate names of users from names of their computers on the network. So, today we address e-mails like this: janedoe@earthlink.net.

-- Time Book of Why