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EX LIBRIS FLORIDA

I DID MY HOMEWORK, BUT THE HARD DRIVE CRASHED: No more excuses. How to Help Your Child with Homework, by Marguerite C. Radencich, a professor at the University of South Florida, and Jeanne Shay Schumm, a professor at the University of Miami (Free Spirit, $14.95), gives parents courage, advice and resources to help kids do their homework. Children do better with schoolwork when their parents are involved. After school whining _ and nagging _ can be circumvented when the problem is approached consistently and positively. These education professionals suggest the student have something nourishing to eat after school. Relax a little. Then do the hardest homework first. A specific time and place to work, goals and praise are part of it, but the book also goes into computer work and specific help with reading, spelling, math and foreign languages. There are 42 reproducible handout masters for book report outlines, game boards and penmanship practice. Other resources for help are listed. This is an excellent tool for ending the homework wars.

FROM THE KIDS: Kids' Little Instruction Book (Troll, $4.95) is written by North Palm Beach teenagers Jim and Steve Dodson, 18 and 15, respectively. The brothers write a column for their newspaper, Kidzette, and have compiled advice for kids from the rich and famous. "After all," they say, "kids will listen to Shaquille O'Neal if he says to stay in school." Here are some examples:

+ "In life you are given two ends: one to think with and the other to sit on. Your success in life depends on which end you use most. Heads you win, tails you lose!" _ Conrad Burns, U.S. senator, Montana

+ "Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle." _ Dennis Connor, yachtsman, America's Cup winner

+ "You can't live without ideas." _ Alexandra Danilova, ballerina

+ "Words are the best weapons. Guns are for cowards." _ Paul Ilyinsky, mayor, Palm Beach

+ "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like the devil. And advertise." _ Willie Stargell, Baseball Hall of Fame, Pittsburgh Pirates

+ "Do not spit gum in the drinking fountains." _ Dave Barry, humor columnist

AN ARMADILLO'S ADVENTURE: The Saving of Arma Armadillo, written by Palm Beach Gardens resident John Harms and illustrated by Brian Nelson (Frederick Press, $18.95), for children 8 to 12, is the story of an armadillo with long eyelashes who gets lost when a rainstorm washes her from her burrow. Humans were building a bridge, which upset the natural terrain and Arma's life. She is found by Buster, a child who lives on the lagoon. Buster helps Arma return home to her sister, Erma. At the end of the book, a glossary of words such as salvaged, spark plug and torrent helps children learn to use more advanced texts. A third section, "More on Armadillos," more interesting than the story, offers these tidbits:

"In the 1920s, a circus train wrecked as it toured Florida and a family of armadillos escaped. So Arma has circus blood in her family!"

We also learn that all of Arma's siblings are sisters because "the female gives birth . . . to usually four babies that are either all girls or all boys. That's why Arma had a sister, Erma!"

BRIEFLY NOTED: Ghosts of St. Augustine, by Dave Lapham (Pineapple Press, $8.95). Things go bump in the night in Florida's oldest city in 24 hair-raising stories. . . . Victory at Any Cost: The Genius of Vietnam's Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap (Brassey's, $25.95). Lutz resident Cecil B. Currey ranks Giap as one of the great generals of history. . . . A Handbook of Gemstones and Jewelry: Revealing the Magic . . . Unveiling the Mystique, by St. Petersburg residents Nancy and Al Benedict ($15.95). Information on buying and enjoying jewelry. . . . Murder Under the Palms, by Stefanie Matteson (Berkley Prime Crime, $21.95). In this latest addition to the Charlotte Graham series about a septuagenarian actress-turned-sleuth, a prominent jeweler is murdered. The series is set in Palm Beach and Clearwater. . . . Outside Agency, by Conor Daly (Kensington, $18.95). In this mystery focused on the competitive world of professional golf, the hero's lucky streak ends with a blow to the head on the 17th hole at Orlando's Bay Hill Classic.

Niela Eliason's Ex Libris column appears monthly.

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