DENVER—Discarding a number of twigs that did not conform to his high standards, Nicholas Thompson, 5, finally selected a favorite stick from his backyard Friday, deeming the 24-inch Norway maple branch to be sufficient in length and sturdiness to be brought inside his home. "This is a good stick," said Thompson, who evaluated the piece of wood and determined it made a cool whooshing noise. "And it's magic. So it can turn into a wizard's wand and poke bad guys." Thompson family sources reported that since the beginning of 2009 Nicholas has brought 11 favorite rocks, 17 preferred pinecones, and one beloved handful of dirt into their home.