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SOMETHING TO READ

Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt; Clarion Books, $16.99. Ages 10 and up.

A finalist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, this is the story of eighth-grader Doug Swieteck, who is forced to move to the small town of Marysville, N.Y., after his abusive father argues with his boss and gets fired. Doug has a very difficult life at home -- he's close to his mother but suffers abuse from his father and brother Christopher, while his oldest brother Lucas returns home seriously wounded in the Vietnam War.

Doug discovers a new world outside his unhappy home through neighbors he meets making deliveries for the local grocery, through his friendship with the grocer's daughter and through drawing lessons copying the Audubon bird portraits at the local library.

Schmidt wrote about the same character in "The Wednesday Wars." Another book by this author: "Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy."

-- Jean Westmoore

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SOMETHING TO DO

The Riveria Theatre and YWCA of the Tonawandas will continue the Family Film Series with "Kung Fu Panda II" at 11 a.m. Saturday in the theater, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda. Cost is $2.

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SOMETHING TO LEARN

Vampire bats would rather feast on sleeping animals than humans. Vampire bats live in the tropics of Central and South America. One hundred vampire bats can drink the blood of 25 cows in one year. Vampire bats do not remove enough blood to kill an animal, but the bites can cause an infection. A special enzyme in the saliva of a vampire bat keeps the blood of animals from clotting, making the blood easier to drink. Scientists say the first vampire bats that emerged were related to bats that gorged themselves on the parasites of prehistoric beasts. Vampire bats slowly evolved into drinking the blood of animals.

-- Time Book of Why