The Chatterbox | June 20

File under: "Hitting the big time"

  • Big Bird is set to become even bigger. According to The Hollywood Reporter, movie studio 20th Century Fox has acquired the film rights to Sesame Street and has tapped show writer Joey Mazzarino to pen the script.

  • Grayslake tween Abby Goldberg has started an online petition asking Governor Pat Quinn to veto a bill that's already on his desk. If it becomes law, it would prevent Illinois municipalities from banning plastic bags. The 12-year-old lives in the Chicago exburb (in Lake County, about 40 miles north of the Loop), and as she writes on her profile page, "I live near a landfill and have to live with [plastic bags] flying everywhere. They’re hanging from trees, caught in our crops and floating in our waterways. Animals are dying from ingesting them!" Kudos to Abby for spurring others—more than 14,000 people, as of this morning—to get involved in the legislative process.

  • This stunning piece at Forbes examines the breakthrough discovery by 15-year-old science savant Jack Andraka that will likely save time and money in diagnosing and treating cancer, along with other devastating diseases. The Maryland native recently won a teen science competition and then discussed his findings in a TED talk; now he's got a patent lawyer to deal with the diagnostic companies that have come a-calling.

File under: "Learning curves"

  • A New York Times contributor (begrudgingly) makes a case for computer time helping kids get in touch with, rather than disconnect from, nature.

File under: "Drinks on me"

  • A Chicago Tribune report offers little hope for families planning to fly together (and sit together on the plane) this summer. Apparently airlines have little control when it comes to shuffling seating assignments. So what can you do if Junior's stuck between two strangers? "Beg your fellow passengers...see if someone will volunteer to move so said 4-year-old can sing to you instead of that other passenger all the way home."

  • One of the cardinal rules of pregnancy came into question this week when a Danish study announced that children whose mothers drank low to moderate amounts of alcohol during pregnancy showed no negative effects in terms of IQ, attention span or thinking skills. But how much is "moderate," anyway? The study defined it as five to eight drinks per week. In response to the study, Bruce Goldman, director of Substance Abuse Services at the Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., told US News and World Report that the findings could send a dangerous message to pregnant women, especially those who may have trouble acknowledging how much and how often they drink.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)