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2014 Award
Animal Teachers
(By Janet Halfmann/ illus Katy Hudsom, Blue Apple $17.99 Score:)

How do animals learn? They don't go to school or have books. In a charming and informative book, they learn from their teachers, their mothers, fathers and sometimes the herd they live with in the great outdoor classroom of the world. Each new idea is followed with interactive questions that give children a chance to make the connections between their world and how they learn.

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

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2014 Award
Zoe’s Jungle
(By Bethanie Deeney Muruia, Scholastic $16.99 Score:)

Playing a pretend game in the park, Zoe has just five minutes before she has to go home. For the child listener and page turner there is the lively imagined world of Zoe's chase, punctuated with related but realistic reminders that time for play is almost up. A lively romp with delightful action packed illustrations. 4 & up

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

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2014 Award
I Feel Five
(By Bethanie Deeney Murguia, Candlewick $16.95 Score:)

Fritz has been looking forward to turning five, yet when the big day arrives he doesn't feel all that different. Of course, since this is a picturebook there is that moment tucked in at the end to make the story complete, yet, perhaps the bigger story is how many children will relate to the real moments of truth, when nothing feels all that different. It's a good story for talking about the typical impatient feelings kids have and their need for tangible proof that they are growing up in so many ways that can't always be measured in inches or candles on the cake.

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

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2014 Awards
Sassy Peek-a-boo Barnyard Blocks
(Sassy $12.99 Score:)

Four textured fabric blocks with interesting patterns, sounds, and peek-a-boo flaps that make them easier for baby to grab and explore. Use these for looking at, touching, and talking games. Stack em up and use a swipe of the hand or a ball to knock them down. They put numbers, letters, and words on them, but by the time baby is ready for those the blocks will be old news.  Just enjoy them for their sensory possibilities and for playful games.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Sassy Barnyard Animals Activity Books
(Sassy $6.99 Score:)

For laptime sharing, these small fabric books have a squeaker to grab baby's attention and different textures on each page. We like the piggy book best. There is a somewhat fuzzy velour pig page, a silky smooth page and a bumpy one. Might be useful for diverting attention or passing time in a waiting situation. It also attaches to stroller for gazing.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Manhattan Toy My Peek-a-Boo Book
(Manhattan Toy $16 Score:)

A charming all fabric book with lots of lift the flaps for finding peek-a-boo images hidden under a leaf, a cloud, a heart and more. This is interactive fun for the lap baby stage. It ends with a small peek-a-boo moment with a mirror so baby can see her own adorable face. A nice baby shower gift.

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

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2014 Award
Playmobil City Action Crane
(Playmobil $118 Score:)


Talk about big--this is stands almost a yard tall and can be operated with a hand-held remote control. The Crane can move from side to side and the trolley goes forward, back, up and down. There is a construction worker who fits into the cab. There's a forklift for lifting loads up to the construction site. An amazing 32-piece set with step by step directions for assembling. Younger kids are going to need adult help to do this. Once it's put together, it will be a fun prop for moving toy blocks. Takes 6 AA batteries that are not provided in the package. 5 & up

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
Manhattan Toy Groovy Girls Blissful Bubbles Bathtub
(Manhattan Toy $25 Score:)

Who but a Groovy Girl would have a satin lined bathtub? Of course, this fantasy tub can take no water or bubbles, despite its fancy name. But it is perfectly proportioned for on Groovy Girl doll at a time. Come with terry towel and a few other bath accessories. For the Groovy Gal collector. 3 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Wimmer Ferguson See and Say Book
(Manhattan Toy $10 Score:)

Bold high contrast outlines will attract the attention of lapsitting babies. Each of the images also has some bright splashes of color. They call this see and say, but this is a book you will use long before baby has much to say and the images are somewhat more abstract than we would have preferred. That said, this is a sturdy board book for talking with baby. There is no story except for the one you will make up as you turn the pages. This is a prop for interacting, socializing, and introducing little ones to the pleasures of reading together.

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

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2014 Award
Playmobil Wild Life, Noah's Ark
(Playmobil $95 Score:)

Not surprisingly, this is subtitled, Noah's Ark, even though a lot of the animal pairs you might have expected to be here are not. Noah and his wife are here and the Ark could take a lot more passengers. That said, there are 101 pieces in the box and plenty of play potential. You may want to add the African Savannah elephants and rhinos to the other African animals in the set, i.e. giraffes, lions, zebras, monkeys, parrots, and ostriches. There is food on board, a ramp for getting off and on. A classic play setting for the ages. 4 & up.

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

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