Books dig up dirt on being eco-friendly Book Nook; Just for kids


Often when we think about preserving our planet, we think of faraway rain forests or of pandas we've never seen. Truth is, when we talk of the environment, it's easy to forget we have a role in it. The two books below, though vastly different, share a common message: Nature is a part of us, and we are a part of nature.

* "There's a Hair in My Dirt! A Worm's Story," by "Far Side" creator Gary Larson ($16, HarperCollins), is an ecological fairy tale. Junior Worm is sick of being fish bait and of eating dirt. So Father Worm decides to teach his son a lesson: He tells a story about a maiden, Harriet, who strolls the forest. Although Harriet thinks she's helping creatures, in truth, she's a walking menace. Through Harriet's encounters, Larson illustrates how every living thing, even a worm, is connected yet competing for Earth's resources.

Larson's book is no fuzzy-animal children's tale. (Let's put it this way: The cartoonist says he takes his inspiration from Charles

Darwin and Alfred Hitchcock.) But its quirky humor is sure to hook the "Far Side" fans.

Rarely is a new game so bad that you wonder why the developers bothered to release it. "Rascals" by Sony PlayStation ($40) is one of those games.

Funny thing is, the game's premise is actually pretty good. The Evil Time Lord has kidnapped a professor and stolen his time machine. The professor's son, Rascal, must travel through time to save the professor and the world.

Visually, "Rascal" looks pretty good too. But it's a shame the game doesn't play as well as its looks would suggest. The controls are terrible; it's challenging just to get the main character to walk from one room to another.

Another goofy feature is the bubble gun. Rather than kill any of the bad guys, "Rascal" uses the gun to make them disappear. A better use of that gun would be to make this lame game go "poof."

Even if you're really bored, it's our hunch that you'll find cleaning your room is more rewarding than playing "Rascal."

tTC 1997 Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Inc.

Pub Date: 5/28/98


Michael McGehee

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