Short Stuff

For kids: items in the news – from voting for your favorite book online to tae kwon do in the Olympics.

David Bickford

Let's boogie

April 25 marks the beginning of National Dance Week. This celebration of dance started in 1981 when a group of dance-related organizations got together to promote dance across the United States.

Today, dance schools and studios and even public libraries get in on the action with special performances, workshops, dance parties, story readings, and movie screenings about dance.

Dance Week even has its own "spokesmouse" for kids. Angelina Ballerina, a cuddly cartoon mouse dressed in a pink tutu, loves to show off her moves. She appears on posters, as a stuffed animal, and as a real-life, person-size character at Dance Week events to help kids get excited about getting their groove on.

To find out if there are any events in your area, visit

An unusual way to get some air

Most animals need oxygen, and many creatures use lungs to get the air they need. But not a tiny frog that lives in cold, fast-moving streams in a part of the Indonesian rain forest. The frog – no longer than two inches – gets all the air it needs by absorbing oxygen through its skin.

Scientists think that one reason the Indonesian frogs may have "lost" their lungs over time is to help them stay put in the swiftly flowing waters where they live. Lungs help animals stay afloat in water, but if the frogs had such buoyancy, they'd be swept away by the streams' current.

The simplest camera

April 27 is Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. Did you know that you can create a camera from common household items? Yep, all you need is an opaque container such as an oatmeal canister, a sewing needle to make the pinhole, a piece of film or photographic paper, tape, scissors, and a piece of cardboard.

A pinhole camera has no lens. Instead, it projects an image onto film or paper through the pinhole. People in ancient Greece made pinhole cameras using wicker baskets or by crossing leaves.

On the pinhole camera's special day, put away your ultramodern gadgets for a little while and celebrate the low-tech way to take a picture.

To see a video on how to make a pinhole camera, visit

'Book' it to the polls

It's not here yet, but Children's Book Week is coming up May 12–18. You'll want to get a move on now, though, to to vote for your favorites in the first Children's Choice Book Awards.

There are 25 finalists in five categories: author, illustrator, and books for three age groups. Voting continues only through Sunday, May 4. So hurry up and hop on the Web to voice your choice.

For a long time, a "Children's Choices" book list has been developed each year by kids, for kids. But this is the first year you can vote online for the literature you love.

Since 1919, Children's Book Week has been observed at schools, libraries, and bookstores all over the US. It was the brainchild of Franklin Matthiews, who was the librarian for the Boy Scouts of America. He believed children's literature could change lives.

Has a good book ever made you think or act differently?

Kickin' it at the Olympics

For the Lopezes of Sugar Land, Texas, the Olympics is a family affair. Earlier this month, siblings Mark and Diana Lopez won tae kwon do contests at the US Olympic trials in Des Moines, Iowa, so they'll be headed to Beijing this summer with America's tae kwon do team.

Their brother, Steven, is also a skilled martial artist. He won gold for tae kwon do in both the 2000 and 2004 summer Olympics, and he had already secured a spot on this summer's US team before the trials in Des Moines.

The siblings fill three of only four spots on the US team, which their oldest brother, Jean, coaches! The Lopezes' achievement marks the first time since 1904 that three siblings have made it onto a US Olympic team. That year, brothers Edward, William, and Richard Tritschler all secured places on the US gymnastics team.

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