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Award: SNAP
Age: Late Elementary School Years
Review Year: 2012

 

 
2012 Awards
McKenna Shoots for the Stars
(American Girl $14.95 Score:)

Aspiring young gymnasts will relate to McKenna's ambitious dreams of becoming an Olympic star. Even non-gymnists will find common ground with her school problems and need for a tutor and the rivalry that grows when her childhood friend becomes jealous of McKenna's new friendship with her tutor. Though the music is somewhat intrusive and the situations a bit predictable, this is like the old after school specials with lots of good messages and events that echo kid's own experiences. McKenna's tutor is wheelchair bound and though she is older and wiser, McKenna learns a lot about friendship and supporting someone else's needs as the story develops. It also delivers a serious message that needing the help of others is noto something to be ashamed of at any age. This is a film for school aged kids, not preschoolers. I hr. 35 min.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Awards
Helen's Big World, The Life of Helen Keller
(by Doreen Rappaport/ illus. Matt Tavares, Hyperion $17.99 Score:)

A new generation will marvel at the inspiring story of Helen Keller who was unable to hear, see, or speak due to an illness that struck in childhood. Combining a narrative with direct quotes from Helen Keller, Doreen Rappaport has woven the familiar story of Helen and her teacher, Annie Sullivan, with a quiet elegance. Add to this the painterly illustrations by Matt Travares. Though this is a picture book format, it is definitely an inspiring story for older children 7-9.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Awards
4M Bubble Science
(4M Kidzlabs $12.99 Score:)

A great way to explore the science of bubbles! Includes a tray, a pyramid framed wand, a cube frames wand, other shaped wands, yarn, straws, wand sticks, a mouthpiece to form a cone shaped blower, a small container of bubble solution and best of all an experiment booklet for making all sort of bubble magic happen. You will need to add more dish washing detergent. Younger kids will need your help with reading the directions and your participation in making some of the experiments work. That said, this is an interesting kit that our tester really loved. Making a bubble within a bubble took some try-try-again efforts, but in the end there was triumph! 5 & up with parent's help. 8 & up independently.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Awards
Huggalo Collection
(Huggalo $19.95 Score:)

Huggalos are soft huggable dolls with a dedicated place on their chest for placing a photo of someone special. There's Doodle Dude (made of canvas and intended to be written on), Camo Joe (done in green fleece camaflouge), Huggsley (our favorite - he comes with a cape and is clearly the super hero of the line), and Camo Flo (same idea as Camo Joe but done in pink).  We think this collection will have an audience with not only the preschool set--but tweens/teens.  The line has a sense of humor and whimsy to it that will likely have wide appeal.

SNAP: Having a photo of a family member can be a comfort take-along when going out into the world. This one is less young looking than most and a little more amusing.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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