Short stuff

Pooh party

He might be "the Bear of Very Little Brain," as his creator, A.A. Milne, once wrote, but Winnie the Pooh has delighted generations of readers since the book "Winnie-the-Pooh" was first published 80 years ago this month.

The fictitious character, who "gets into a tight place" when visiting Rabbit in the book, was said to be based on a toy bear owned by the author's son, Christopher Robin.

E.H. Shepard's illustrations brought Milne's characters to life – including Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, Rabbit, Owl, and Roo. Tigger joined the gang in the Hundred Acre Wood two years later in Milne's book, "The House at Pooh Corner" (1928).

In the mid-1960s, the Pooh stories were turned into a series of very short "Winnie the Pooh" films, produced by the Walt Disney Co.

The original Winnie the Pooh stuffed toy and other characters from the Pooh books are on display at the New York Public Library.

Modern Monopoly

The Boardwalk still is going to cost you $400, but you can get there in a new ride.

In the "Here and Now" edition of the Monopoly board game, the Toyota Prius is one of several new name-brand tokens in a group that includes a laptop computer, an airplane, a Motorola RAZR cellphone, McDonald's French fries, and a New Balance running shoe.

The Prius replaced the vintage race car token in the original game, which was created by Parker Brothers more than 70 years ago. More than 250 million copies have been sold since then.

Did you know?

A contraction is a word made up of two words combined into one by leaving out one or more letters. An apostrophe appears in place of the missing letters.

For instance, the contraction of "are not" is "aren't"; "I have" becomes "I've"; and "she will" is "she'll."

Some contractions, such as "he's" and "she's," have more than one meaning – "he is" or "he has," and "she is" or "she has," respectively.

How many contractions can you come up with?

Children's poet laureate

After entertaining kids with his wacky verse and zany characters for more than 40 years, Jack Prelutsky has been named the first children's poet laureate by the Poetry Foundation.

He'll help raise awareness of poetic verse among young poetry readers, many of whom already know his trademark rhymes and punch lines.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1940, Mr. Prelutsky didn't begin writing until he was 24 years old.

He published his first book of humorous verse, "A Gopher in the Garden," in 1967. Since then he has written more than 35 books of children's poetry, including "A Pizza the Size of the Sun" (1996), "It's Raining Pigs and Noodles" (2000), and "The New Kid on the Block" (1984).

A pumpkin treat

It's fall and we've been thinking about colorful leaves, hayrides, and pumpkins.

We've also been in the mood for something sweet.

Malcolm Kushner, author of a new children's cookbook, "California Squisine," (Robert D. Reed Publishers; $11.95), has a tasty solution: pumpkin frozen yogurt. It's one of more than 100 squeezable kid-friendly recipes that require no cooking.

Mix 1/2 cup canned pumpkin, 1-1/2 to 2 cups nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt, and 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice in a blender. Ask an adult for help if needed. Blend thoroughly. Then put in an ice cream cone. Eat it right away or share with friends before it melts.

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