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2003 Award
Little People Cement Mixer Truck
(Fisher-Price $9.95 Score:) Push on the driver's head and the cement mixer tips as the vehicle beeps (not too loudly) with a back-up sound. We also note that the driver is not just female, but she's blond! What next? They say 1 & up. We found this was most enjoyed by 18 mos. & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Mega Bloks Little Builders
(Ritvik (Mega Bloks) $10.99 Score:) Our testers enjoyed playing with this 16-piece set that includes three bases and interchangeable tops, including ambulance, firetruck, and police car. Chunky enough for early road play. There is also a construction set for "road work." They say 1 & up, we'd say more like 2 & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2003.

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2005 Award
Pastel Pancake Bears
(North American Bear Co. $14 Score:)

These scrumptious flat bears in pastel colors. Soft, lovies. Just right for quiet moments. Also available as bunnies, cats and other flat lovables.


Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2005. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2003 Award
Meet Mr. And Mrs. Green
(by Keith Baker, Harcourt $16 Score:) Meet a lovable pair of 'gators in three droll stories to tickle the funny bone. The two go on a camping trip, to the county fair and enjoy a hearty breakfast of pancakes topped with chocolate cake. Yum. 3-7.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
There's a Big Beautiful World Out There!
(by Nancy Carlson, Viking $15.99 Score:) There have always been lots of things to be scared of, but perhaps more than ever, since 9/11. This good natured preachment assures kids that they will miss too much if they let their fears get in the way of living. May be a useful talking book for kids who can't talk about their fears or for those who think they are the only ones with such fears.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
The Mysterious Tadpole
(by Steven Kellogg, Dial $16.99 Score:) This is the 25th anniversary edition of a delightfully funny fantasy. Celebrating advances in printing technology and his own wish to add dimension to some of the characters, Steven Kellogg gives a new generation a more fully realized version of his well loved story of a boy and a magical tadpole that keeps growing and growing. Next, we hope Kellogg will write the sequel about the hatchling that Uncle MacAllister brings for Louis's next birthday! 5-9

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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The Christmas Thingamajig
(by Lynn Manuel/ illus. by Carol Benioff, Dutton $15.99 Score:) Holidays are often tied up with family traditions and the loss of a loved one is all the more poignant when the absent one is not there to celebrate as in years past. This is a moving story of a girl who has recently lost her grandmother and dreads visiting her grandfather in the house that now feel empty. While the story is moving, the illustrations leave much to be desired. Although they cleverly alternate between full color images of the present and sepia toned images of the past, there is an unfinished quality to them that does not do justice to the author's fine story

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Me and Uncle Romie
(by Claire Hartfield/ illus. by Jerome Lagarrigie, Dial $16.99 Score:) When James' mom is about to have twins, he is sent to New York City to Harlem to visit his Uncle Romie, an artist. James is sure his birthday will be ruined, but Uncle Romie shows him a different kind of celebration and inspires the boy to make his own artful memories. Readers may also be inspired to try their hand at making collages with the suggestions from the artist.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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Tomy Ball Party Symphony Tower
(International Playthings $29.99 Score:) Our favorite collection of toddler toys has taken a wrong turn. The newest is a tower with balls rolling down, hitting sound sensors as they go. Unfortunately, the cartoonish sounds are extremely irritating.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: .

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2003 Award
The Nightingale
(retold and illus. by Jerry Pinkney, Penguin $16.99 Score:) Instead of the usual Chinese setting, Jerry Pinkney transports this classic tale to Morocco with lush and beautiful watercolors. Instead of an Emperor, there is a King and the people of his court have different titles, as well. Pinkney's beautiful retelling has a musical quality that matches the rich and delicately detailed illustrations of the people, architecture and animals of Northwest Africa.6-10.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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