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2014 Award
Bruno and Titch, A Tale of a Boy and His Guinea Pig
(By Sheena Dempsey, Candlewick $16.99 Score:)

The longings of a Guinea Pig as told by Titch who longs for a Big Person and a home of his own. An original and amusing way of telling a familiar tale by switching the point of view to the pet who longs for a boy. Sheena Dempsey's light and humorous telling goes hand in hand with her amusing illustrations. For anyone who has longed for a pet, this is a breezy and entertaining tale. 4-7

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
Melissa & Doug Mega Race Car Carrier
(Melissa & Doug $29.99 Score:)

Hours of play possibilities will take off with this wonderful wooden car carrier that is loaded with six race cars. The blue truck cab attaches to the two-level carrier that opens into one long rampway. There are grooves on the carrier to hold the vehicles in place. Kids will like loading and unloading the race cars and having races with the vehicles. Want to add some math? The vehicles are numbered, so load them up from 1-6. This is one of those toys that will be used with blocks or solo. 3 & up

SNAP GAME: A playful way to reinforce colors and counting, recognizing numerals, putting things in number order. Play a what's missing game: Line up three cars in numerical order with one car missing. Can your player name the missing car? Find the missing car?

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Awards
Leap Frog LeapPad3
(LeapFrog $99.99 Score:)

A new, improved, 5-inch touchscreen and Wi-Fi protected content that keeps kid safe but gives them access to more content. This is the fastest 5-inch tablet that us designed to withstand drops and such unavoidable wear and tear. It has kid-friendly web content that is 100% pre-screened and approved by learning experts and has 4GB of memory; enough to allow kids to store 20,000 photos plus a two-megapixel front and back cameras and a video recorder for young film makers. It has a built in rechargeable battery. LeapPad3 includes 10 Apps:Music player plus 10 songs; Pet Party, 5 utility apps and a choice of 1 App download. Like previous LeapPads it gives kids access to a learning library with more than 1,000 games, ebooks, and videos approved by educators. For more memory (8GB and a larger 7-inch screen consider the LeapPad Ultra XDi ($129) comes in green and pink. 3-9

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

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2014 Awards
Faber-Castell Gel Crayons
(Faber-Castell $15 Score:)

Delicious! That is the best word to describe what rich beautiful color you get from the 12 Gel Crayons you get in this set of washable gel crayons with intense colors. The blue gel crayon pictured here is just one of a dozen brilliant colors. They are nothing like any crayons you have ever used. An exciting new medium that will invite kids to develop their creativity as well as their dexterity. Using big arm motions these crayons glide over the paper leaving bright lines that are as bold as tempera paint without the problem of dripping. They do not blend as well as ..

paint, but they do offer an easy way to encourage kids to explore color, line and expressing themselves in non-verbal ways. The set comes with 12 buttery crayons in chunky plastic that turns up as the color is used. Includes red, yellow, orange, dark blue, grass green, black, silver, neon yellow, neon orange, neon pink, neon blue and neon green. Color on textures and it shows through. They say these can be used on windows and mirrors and washed off; we have not tried them that way.These are marked 3 & up, but we suspect these make a better choice for slightly older kids. For interesting ideas on how to use these and other art projects visit greatartstartshere.com

Also fun, but water-soluble, try Faber-Castell Gel Sticks that can be applies like crayons and then wet them with water and paint brush to transform drawings into water color painting.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Awards
Toys R Us Journey Girls 2014
(Toys R Us $39.99 Score:)

This year's Journey Girl Dolls are off to London. These 18-inch play dolls spent last year in Paris and now they have moved on with a change in their clothes. They are still a great buy for the price and this year's costumes are spot on for riding in Hyde Park, shopping in Regent Street, sightseeing on the Thames, London Tower, Westminster and the British Museum. A multi-ethnic collection with tons of accessories and furnishings that you can add as other gift events arise. Check out Kyla, a brunette in a khaki trench coat and leggings; Kelsey, a red head in a tartan skirt; Chavonne in a denim vest and red pants; Callie with a Union Jack shirt and pink skirt; Dana in a blue and white two piece outfit; Meredith in a red trench coat and jeans. You can't go wrong with any of these playdolls for girls of 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Roominate Chateau
(Roominate $49.99 Score:)

Newest in this award winning construction set, all the makings for building a chateau with pieces for creating a spiral staircase, bunk beds and more. It has a motor and light circuits for running elevators, lamps, and windmills. The 131-piece set has walls, wheels, axles, and more. Along with ideas in the box there is a website with even more creative ideas for making the chateau run. This is more about building and less about typical dollhouse pretending. For future engineers, scientists and architects, this is the dollhouse of choice.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
A Letter for Leo
(By Sergio Ruzzier, Clarion $16.99 Score:)

There's a lovely roundness to this low-key tale of a mailman who never has received a letter. One day he finds a small bird in his mailbox and takes care of it until spring comes. With the arrival of the birds from their winter migration, the little bird leaves Leo, but before long what should arrive? Of course, a letter filled with cheeps.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Me and My Day
(By Liesbet Slegers, Clavis $11.95 Score:)

A sturdy knowing and naming book about a typical day from morning to night. Familiar objects in the world of babies are shown in isolation on one page and in use on the facing page. There is a short text for each item, but basically this is a book for talking and relating to the lap sitter and his world. Also: Me and the Seasons. 12 months & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Take a Look, Vroom
(By Liesbet Slegers, Clavis $11.95 Score:)

Toddlers love transportation and this is one with plenty of ways to travel with extra action slide pages. A step beyond a naming and knowing book, each illustration is named in simple language and opens to reveal hidden passengers. These are sturdy board books with slide action instead of flaps require some hand power and dexterity that may take some practice to do independently. Also see Take a Look, Bunny, on a swing, on a slide, in a sandbox and other familiar toddler haunts. 18 months & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Can You Say It, Too? Roar! Roar!
(By Sebastian Braun, Candlewick $8.99 Score:)

A stout little picture book with flaps that reveal wild animals of the African bush. It purports to teach tots the sounds these less than familiar animals make. This is a stretch, but after a visit to the zoo, some toddlers might like knowing and naming the wild animals they have seen and this is a place you can begin. 2 & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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