“I Funny: A Middle School Story” by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein; Little, Brown, $15.99.

Jamie Grimm is the new kid in town, in Long Beach on Long Island. He uses a wheelchair and that makes him a target for bullies including the bully he lives with, his own cousin Stevie Kosgrov. (Jamie’s bedroom is the former garage (complete with a weed-whacker hanging on the wall) of the house where he lives with his mother’s sister, nicknamed Aunt Smiley because she never smiles). But Jamie has something going for him: He’s hilarious. And he’s determined to win the Planet’s Funniest Kid Comic Contest, even if he has to do it on the sly and take a taxi to the first round in Ronkonkoma. But will he choke when he gets there? Or will he leave ’em laughing?

James Patterson churns out the books. (Chris Grabenstein has written several thrillers for middle school readers and collaborated with Patterson on “Daniel X: Armageddon.”) This one has humor and heart, as the authors save until almost the end the story of why Jamie uses a wheelchair, lives with his aunt and not his parents, and how he got interested in comedy in the first place. The book has loads of great cartoon illustrations by Laura Park who also drew the pictures for “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” and “Middle School: Get Me Out of Here” (co-written by Patterson and Chris Tebbetts).

– Jean Westmoore


Have you ever wondered why people in photographs sometimes have red eyes? If a subject is close to a camera lens, the burst of light from the camera’s flash goes through to the back of the subject’s eyeball. The retina inside the eye is rich in red blood vessels. When the light strikes those red blood vessels, it reflects the red color seen in the picture.

– Time Book of Why


The Theatre of Youth, 203 Allen St., has added an extra performance of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” at 7 tonight. For information, call 884-4400 or visit