"The One and Only Ivan" by Katherine Applegate; Harper, $16.99.

Ivan, the Silverback gorilla, lives in a glass-walled domain at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade with his friend, Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. Ivan likes to watch TV and draw, and his drawings sell pretty well. But then he meets baby elephant Ruby, and her stories of home make Ivan see his life in a new -- and not a good -- way. Ivan promises Stella he'll take care of Ruby. But how will he do it?

This wonderful story, told from Ivan's point of view, will make you look at all animals in a new light. The author of "Home of the Brave" (she also co-wrote the Animorphs series with her husband, Michael Grant) was inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla, known as the Shopping Mall Gorilla, who was moved to Zoo Atlanta after 27 years in a cage at a shopping mall.

-- Jean Westmoore



"Nature's Circle: Hoot for Spring," a program for kids ages 2 and 3, will be held from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. Monday at Tifft Nature Preserve, 1200 Fuhrmann Blvd. Cost is $4 per child and adult, $2 additional child with same adult.

Next Thursday at Tifft Nature Preserve, families (ages 5 and up) can take an evening hike to welcome spring and watch the sunset. Cost is $5.

For both events, Buffalo Museum of Science members save 10 percent. Preregistration is required; call 896-5200, Ext. 338.



Try tickling yourself. Not much happens, right? You might think you would feel the same sensation as if someone else was tickling you. Not so. Scientists don't know why we can't tickle ourselves. Some suspect that the element of surprise has a lot to do with it. When we tickle ourselves, we have lost the surprise. Our brain -- specifically the cerebellum -- knows what is happening and that there's no reason to laugh.

-- McClatchy Newspapers