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2014 Award
Maisy Plays Soccer
(Lucy Cousins, Candlewick $12.99 Score:)

For the many preschoolers who have known Maisy and her pals since they were toddlers, this "First Experience" book, reflects a slightly older Maisy. Like many 3-5 year olds, Maisy is learning how to play soccer with her friends Charley, Tallulah, Dotty, Cyril and Eddie. They divide up into teams and dressed in their uniforms, have fun learning the game. Cousin's cleverly puts the emphasis on the fun of playing rather than the competition or winning and losing--something preschoolers are not really ready for developmentally. This might be a winner for your young soccer player. 3 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Honk, Honk! Baa, Baa!
(By Petr Horacek, Candlewick $7.99 Score:)

A true baby book designed for lap sitters and their readers. There is no real story here, but lovely illustrations with easy to lift shaped pages that tots will be able to do independently as they get older. Basically this is a knowing-and-naming book that builds language. Readers will want to ham-it-up as they make the animal sounds of these familiar creatures—a donkey, sheep, pig, dog, ca, goose, and cow. In time, children will like pretending they are reading it themselves.

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

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2014 Award
Pigsticks and Harold
(By Alex Milway, Candlewick $16.99 Score:)

For that young reader who is hankering for a chapter book but not a heavy one with fine print, this makes a fun way to transition into the next stage of reading. It's a light adventure story featuring Pigsticks who wants to reach the ends of the earth and return safely and his innocent assistant, Harold, a hamster whose love for cake leads him to a job he never wanted. Told in breezy language, this just might make a reluctant reader less so. 2nd grade & up.

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

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2014 Award
Otis and the Scarecrow
(By Loren Long, Philomel $17.99 Score:)

When the farmer put Scarecrow in the field, Otis, the tractor and his animal friends cannot get the frown off Scarecrows painted face, no matter how they try. After a while they stop trying and go about the business of the farm until one cold rainy day. Otis, seeing the Scarecrow all alone takes pity on him and decides to sit in the rain alongside him. The others follow Otis' example and in the process, Otis is almost certain he sees Scarecrow smile. A warm and lovely story about friendship and caring. 5 & up.

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

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2014 Award
What If...?
(Anthony Brown, Candlewick $16.99 Score:)

Joe has been invited to a party, but he lost the invitation and while they walk the block trying to discover the right house, Joe is besieged with the what-if jitters. Kids will relate to many of his worries as they step out into the bigger world. As always, Anthony Brown's far-out illustrations will be amusing to some but off-putting for others, since they picture a world that is even scarier than Joe's what if's. 6 & up

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

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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
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 Award
Journey Girls
(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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