Monitor Picks

Five things we think you'll really like, from Oprah's 'Big Give' to Johnny Cash's TV show to a personalized paper 'Poky' puppy.

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Personal 'poky puppy'

What could better than penning a thoughtful dedication on a book flap? How about having that dedication actually printed as part of the book, along with a photograph. Random House has teamed up with custom publisher SharedBook to let customers personalize "The Poky Little Puppy" (poky.sharedbook.com/poky/index.html). The cost of the hardcover, including the custom dedication – which the puppy gazes up at quizzically – is $25. Everything else about this delightful children's classic remains the same.

The political nerd

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During the 2004 presidential election, the geeks at super-popular tech blog Slashdot.org (motto: "news for nerds") created a subsite for politics (motto: "politics for nerds"). Since then, the editors have refined a product that was strikingly good to begin with: clean presentation, uncluttered interface, and an understated delivery are all hallmarks. If you're tired of the talking heads, or the noise on the Drudge Report, log on to http://politics.slashdot.org/ instead.

The war years

Grammar school, for most of us, was a time of heightened anxiety – the crumpled love letters, the trial by battle on the soccer pitch, the looming prospect of academic failure. So Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules, a graphic novel based on the life of fictional seventh grader Greg Heffley, rings especially true. Cartoonist Jeff Kinney has geared "Diary" – a sequel to last year's New York Times bestseller – for young adults, but amid the madcap classroom antics, there's plenty of room for everyone.

Winfrey's winners

As reality TV shows go, Oprah's Big Give (ABC, Sunday, 9 p.m.) strikes us as better time investment than watching spandexed He-Men bopping each other with giant Q-tips. Ms. Winfrey presides over a contest in which participants compete to see who can best help the needy.

Johnny Be Good

True story: Back in the day, the Man in Black had his own television show, where he performed duets with musical luminaries from Roy Orbison to James Taylor. The Best of the Johnny Cash Show, now on CD and DVD, is a grand ole' record of those years – and a hearty, rollicking tribute to Cash himself.

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