"Down the Mysterly River" by Bill Willingham, with illustrations by Mark Buckingham; Starscape, $15.99.

Bill Willingham is famous for his fairy tale-inspired "Fables" comics. His first novel for middle-grade readers features a Boy Scout nicknamed Max the Wolf, who wakes up in a strange land full of talking animals and scary cloaked villains with blue swords dubbed "the Blue Cutters."

Max meets up with a badger, a bear and a nasty barn cat and together they brave all sorts of danger as they try to head to safety and Max tries to figure out what's really going on.

The answer to what's really going on is a big surprise that may thrill some and disappoint others.

-- Jean Westmoore



You can easily wrap up a set of these colorful yarn napkin rings, which are perfect for dressing up the Thanksgiving table for the big meal.

For each, create a ring from a strip of card stock (ours is 6 by 1 1/2 inches) and use tacky glue to secure the overlapped ends. For more durable napkin rings, make the ring base from two strips of card stock glued one on top of the other.

Clamp the ends with clothespins until the glue dries. Apply two half-inch wide bands of glue to opposite sides of the ring. Wrap lengths of mix-and-match yarn around the ring, making sure each piece starts and ends in a glue band. Let the glue dry.

(From Disney FamilyFun magazine:

-- McClatchy Newspapers



Giraffes are the tallest mammals on the planet. Some stand up to 19 feet high. Some scientists think giraffes have long necks to reach leaves high on trees, especially during periods of drought. Others say giraffes have long necks to help them fight. Male giraffes use their necks as weapons, clubbing their opponents with their heavy skulls.

-- Time Book of Why