Talking Tails: The Incredible Connection Between People and Their Pets”; Ann Love & Jane Drake, illustrated by Bill Slavin, Tundra Books, paperback $9.95.

Anyone who loves animals or is thinking of getting a pet will enjoy this fascinating book about the ties between humans and their animals. There are chapters about exotic pets, birds, fish, reptiles, rodents and horses, but most of the book is devoted to dogs and cats.

Along with useful advice about how to choose the right cat or dog to fit your home and then how to care for it and train it, there are fascinating chapters about famous pets, including an African gray parrot named Polly who climbed the Chilkoot Pass into northern Canada with men seeking their fortunes in the Klondike gold rush of 1898, lost her owner in an Alaska shipwreck and then lived in a hotel where she (Polly was actually a male) would swear, drink alcohol and bite the customers. Polly lived to be 126 years old! Another fascinating chapter tells the story of dogs who are trained to detect seizures before they happen, enabling their child companions to live more normal lives.

Jean Westmoore


The KeyBank Sunday Film Series continues with a screening of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” (PG) at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda. Cost is $2. For information, call 692-2413.


Did you know that lead pencils aren’t made with lead? “Lead pencils” got their name when someone in 16th century England found shiny bits of stone near the roots of a fallen tree. People started to call the flashy substance “blacklead.” They soon found the mineral was good for writing. Blacklead was really graphite, a form of carbon. The first pencils, then, were sticks of natural graphite wrapped in string or a wooden tube. The term “blacklead pencil” was first used in 1565. Today, some pencils are made of charcoal and other materials.

– Time Book of Why