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2003 Award
Spirit
(Dreamworks $26.99 Score:) Early reviewers indicated that this was a film no one over six would watch. We'd say this is a beautiful film that no one under six should see. Like an old fashioned western (only more politically correct) this is part one of "How the West was Won". It has the requisite chase through canyons and a fall into rapids with a waterfall drop that the main characters survive. Only here the main characters have manes and the story is told from the point of view of a wild mustang that is captured by the cavelry and rescued by a Native American. This has more than one frightening moment and might lead some young viewers to believe that the Plains are still home to the Lakota People and wild mustangs. Still the images are beautiful and the story has more meaning than all too many so called family films. 6-10.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Where the Wild Things Are
(Scholastic $14.95 Score:) Welcome back! For years Children's Circle videos were the benchmark of excellence in the world of children's videos bringing award winning storybooks classics to the video screen. For the past several years they were only available to libraries. Now part of the collection has been reintroduced at an affordable price for the home market. This represents the best news to the world of children's videos! Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen are delightfully narrated by Peter Schickele and The Nutshell Library is sung by Carole King. How wonderful that Sendak's art comes to life for a new generation! 4-8.

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

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FurReal Friends Kitten
(Hasbro $35 Score:) If you have a child who is allergic to cats but wants one madly, this might do the trick! Our tester loved the way this big white furry angora type cat responded with motion and sounds to the touch. Looks a lot like Snowbell in the Stuart Little movie. With sensors in its cheeks, head, back, shoulder and tail this is the most life-like cat we've ever tested. But it doesn't always do what's expected. It purrs, meows, moves its head and tail. The problem is it also seems to roar with some very un-cat like sounds! Comes with a brush for grooming and an adoption certificate. 6 & up. (800) 752-9755.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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Awards
TotSports Bowling Set
(Little Tikes $14.99 Score:) Six see-through plastic pins are loaded with colorful balls that shake rattle and roll when they are knocked over with the big but lightweight bowling ball. A good classic toy with a fresh new look. Fun for active play indoors or out. Says 2 & up, but 2's won't understand this or enjoy it as much as preschoolers and even early school aged kids. See the SNAP suggestions for making a math game for older kids (800) 432-5437. SNAP Activity: This is a good game that develops eye hand coordination and requires repetitive setting up and fetching the ball. Taking turns and following rules are also built into the fun. Young kids love such games for their own sake and especially if the grown-ups in their lives are bowlers, too. If appropriate, you can build some simple counting or adding skills with this,as well. With preschoolers, keep track of how many pins were knocked down. Keep a tally with chalk or pencil and paper. Make bundles of five stick marks. Player who gets two bundles first is the winner of that round. For school aged kids, tape numerals 1-6 to the pins and have your child add up the scores. Set a number for grand slam winner. First player to knock down ten wins the round!

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

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2003 Award
Champion: The Story of Muhammad Ali
(Jim Haskins/ill By Eric Velasquez, Walker Books $17.95 Score:) Starting with his childhood and following his rise to fame and the downturns along the way, this young people's biography does not sugar-coat the tough times as well as the triumphs in Ali's career. Haskins gets into the spiritual as well as political side of the Ali, who became more than an athlete- a larger than life icon and role model for young black men and women. 6-10.

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

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2002 Awards
Little Louie the Baby Bloomer
(by Robert Kraus/illus. by Jose Aruego and Ariane D, HarperCollins $15.95 Score:) Little Louie is late in learning how to throw a ball, pull a wagon, rattle his rattle, and talk. But Leo, his big brother and the original late bloomer, takes the time to teach him, and in Little Louie's own good time, he blooms. Also, Leo the Late Bloomer. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2002.

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Awards
Plan Toys Fruit Play Set
(Brio $15 Score:) Like a real knife, there's a right and wrong side of the wooden "knife" that kids use to cut apart Velcroed halves of three wooden fruits. Veggies set also available. SNAP: Wooden fruits and veggies can be “cut” apart with wooden knife that seems to cut the Velcro-ed segments. Comes with lemon, orange, pear, mushroom, carrot, and tomato, plus board and wooden knife. Activity: Use fraction words when you ask child to cut you a half of one fruit or a quarter of something else. (888) 274-6869.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: .

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2002 Award
Grandpa & bo
(by Kevin Henkes, Greenwillow $14.95 Score:) Bo spends the summer with his grandpa in the country. They go fishing, play ball and share simple everyday events. By summer's end both are unhappy about having to say good-bye. They decide that Christmas is so far off they will celebrate a summer Christmas and make a wish on a shooting star. May be a little romanticised version of visits to grampa's- but it's a gentle, satisfying story. 5 & up

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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Little Pig Is Capable
(by Denis Roche, Houghton Mifflin $15 Score:) It's not Little Pig who is having separation fears. It's his parents who are over the top worriers....in fact one might say they suffer from anxiety disorder. So, when Little Pig goes off with the Snout Scout Troop they have warned him about every eventuality except the big one- a wolf in pig's clothing. But fear not- as the title says- this little pig is capable! 4-8.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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2002 Awards
Lacing Beads in a Box
(Lights, Camera, Interaction! $15 Score:) Thirty painted wooden shapes (rectangles, squares, triangles, circles and ovals) come with colorful patterns. The squares are marked with numerals from 1 to 10. Comes with two long laces (red and green) and all are neatly contained in a wooden box with a plexiglass sliding top for storage. An open ended toy with multiple types of learning possibilities. Talk with your child about making patterns with the numbers, patterns and shapes. SNAP Award: Encourage your child to sequence the numerals in order; also work on making patterns with shapes or colors. If you use a red, then a green, then a red, ...what comes next? Work on simple patterns and gradually make them more complex. This is really an open ended set for developing language, fine motor and math skills.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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