Children's book expert extraordinaire, Betsy Bird, formerly of the New York Public Library and now head of special collections right here in Evanston, lugged a big bag of books to my home last week to tell all of us on hand about the Best Children's and YA Books of 2016. There are so many terrific books here! if you haven't sewn up your holiday lists, you're in luck. Personal favorites: PAX, Jazz Day, Quite Calling Me a Monster and The Cookie Fiasco! There is something for everyone here: Monsters, the Supernatural, History, Math, Chinese Folk Tales, a Pet Fox, Weird Superpowers, Jemima...

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Preparation -- that's the theme for the New York Times annual Symposium on College Admission. We'll be covering grades, testing, essays, "fit", affordability, how to research colleges, and exactly how relevant all those scarey headlines about hyper-selectivity are. (There actually are more than 10 colleges in America.) I'll be talking with the Deans of Admission and Vice Presidents of Enrollment from University of California at Berkeley, DePaul University and Wesleyan University. And I'll be dicussing what students and families need to know when there are special...

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