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TV Smarts

September 17, 1998

Some broadcast and cable programs contain material included in the public school curriculum and on standardized examinations. Here are weekend home-viewing tips:

* Today. "Histeria!" (KTLA, 3:30-4 p.m.) This new animated series, airing six days a week, presents historical subject matter in an amusing way. Today's episode is "The Wild West" VCR+6253. Friday's is "The American Revolution, Part I" VCR+5963. Produced by Tom Ruegger and other veterans of Steven Spielberg's "Animaniacs" production company, the series is intended to spark an interest in history among kids in the early years of elementary school. A teacher's guide to the series is available. E-mail requests to YMIHQaol.com.

Also recommended: "Shane" (TMC, 3:30-5 p.m.). This is the Oscar-winning movie about a frontier family based on the Jack Schaeffer novel widely used in public school English classes. VCR+3702746

* Friday. "Navajo Code Talkers" (History, 9-10 p.m.) This is a documentary about a Native American unit of the Marine Corps that speeded U.S. victory in the war with Japan by devising and using a military code in battle, thwarting enemy efforts to break it. A new book for young readers, "Unsung Heroes of WWII: The Story of the Navajo Code Talkers," by Deanne Durrett, was published this summer.

* Saturday. "Children's Books" (C-SPAN II, noon-1 p.m., repeating Sunday, 7-8 a.m.) This program, a telecast of a panel discussion about the future of children's books held at the recent Maui Writer's Conference, is part of the new C-SPAN II weekend service titled "Book TV". Discussion and reviews of nonfiction books are the sole topics on Saturdays and Sundays. Sunday, for instance, on a regular show called "History Books on TV" (from 5-6 p.m., repeating from 8-9 p.m.), the featured book will be "The Burning of Washington: The British Invasion of 1814," by Anthony Pitch. Complete schedule information for students and teachers is available at the Web site: www.booktv.org.

* Sunday. "Land of the Anaconda" (TBS, 8:45-9:45 p.m.) This documentary, an episode of TBS' "National Geographic Explorer" series, describes research, conducted by Jesus Rivas PhD, on green anacondas. Cameras capture them eating 30-pound mammals in one swallow and birthing 40 offspring at a time. VCR+2706594.

--Compiled by Richard Kahlenberg in consultation with Crystal J. Gips, associate dean, College of Education, Cal State Northridge. For references to books, videos and Web sites recommended in the past month's TV Smarts log on www.calendarlive.com/HOME/CALENDARLIVE/TVENT/TVSMARTS.

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