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2003 Award
Talking Math Mat Challenge Game
(Learning Resources $29.95 Score:) This is one way to help kids learn math facts while thinking on their feet! Kids step on the vinyl mat to answer the math quiz that's programmed with two levels of difficulty. Level one asks kids to find a numeral named, simple addition, and subtraction. Level two asks for the "next" number in a sequence of three as in 5,4,? Or 5,6,?; Addition and subtraction jumps to missing factors as in 11 + ? is 15. Keep in mind that beginners need concrete materials to count before they learn the facts in rapid fire fashion. So this is more fun than flash cards, but not very different in content. It's for children who are ready for drill. Labeled 4-7, most fours will do only the numeral game. This is far more appropriate for mid-first and second graders. Forget the newer Factor Frenzy () and Light ‘N Strike Math (). Both require too many steps to enter an answer—totally frustrating. We passed on the Alpha-Bug Step ’n Spell, which became too difficult too quickly and was not especially responsive. Also, testers gave the new-for-2007 ABC Chalk Talk! ($39.95 ) thumbs down because it is “buggy.” Players correctly identified “c” as the first letter of cup, but were told repeatedly that they were wrong. The tone of the machine isn’t mean but isn’t very pleasant, either. (800) 222-3909. SNAP AWARD ChIldren who avoid pencil and paper tasks, for any number of reasons, will find this active math drill game entertaining as well as getting practice with beginning math skills. However this is not a tool for kids who still need concrete materials to count. It's several steps beyond that.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2002 Award
Maisy Cleans Up
(by Lucy Cousins, Candlewick $9.99 Score:) Charley the alligator has come to visit Maisy. But before she can play or share her cupcakes Maisy has some serious cleaning to do. Charley helps and even stays off the wet kitchen floor till it dries. A simple story with a chance to know and name all the cleaning tools Maisy uses.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 2002.

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2002 Award
Maisy Makes Lemonade
(by Lucy Cousins, Candlewick $9.99 Score:) It's a hot day and everyone is thirsty. But Eddie,the elephant has a giant thirst. He drinks up all of Maisy's lemonade. Not to worry! Maisy that resourceful mouse makes another pitcher full. Oh, oh! Guess what happens next? A funny little story that will taste better if you and your little listener stir up a batch of your own lemonade!

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 2002.

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2002 Award
Hisss
(Gamewright $10 Score:)

This game is fun, fast-paced, interactive and helps reinforce color concepts. Comes with 50 snake tiles that are part of the snake (head, tail, body section). The object is to build and collect the most snakes for your snake pit. Players take turns drawing cards and matching colors to the snakes under construction on the desk. The cards are made of sturdy stock and the graphics are colorful and not scary! As the instructions indicate you did need a large playing surface for this game which we believe would be most enjoyed by 4-7s.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2002. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2002 Award
Song of Night
(by Katherine R. Nakamura/ illus. by Linnea Riley, $15.95 Score:) If you need a new and soothing bedtime book, this beautifully illustrated book with animal babies are all geting ready for bed, taking tubs,brushing teeth, listening to storybooks. There's a little ladybug to be found on many pages and other small details that children will enjoy studying before lights out. 3 & up

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2002.

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Award
Sometimes I'm Bombaloo
(by Rachel Vail/ illus. by Yumi Heo, Scholastic $15.95 Score:) You need to read this to yourself before you read it out loud. We think it might be a useful book for talking about angry feelings. In seeing that others have such feelings, children may find comfort as well as ways of handling those feelings. When five year old Kate loses her cool she sometimes uses "feet and fists" instead of words...but then she's sorry. This may not solve such problems but it opens the door to talking about them and even seeing some of the humor of Katie's behavior. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: .

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2002 Award
Fix-It Duck
(by Jez Alborough, HarperCollins $15.95 Score:) Oh, oh! There's something dripping - a leak in the roof? Never fear! This is a job for FIX-IT DUCK! Children will enjoy feeling oh so much smarter than that fowled up duck who truly can fix nothing....but gives everyone a laugh in trying. Not content with repairing his own home, duck takes to the road and ends up fowling up a lot of other homes,too. This fun read aloud has plenty of repetition and opportunities to chime in with the refrain. However, the pictures are a bit misleading. It does seem to be raining throughout- so when Duck's leak turns out to have another source, we felt a bit confused. This will probably not trouble young listeners at all.

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

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2002 Award
Dreamy Ribbon Jewelry
(Creativity for Kids $12 Score:) You'll need to help younger rtists thread the organdy ribbon into the needle and you'll want to keep track of tha needle,too, since it is pretty sharp. That said, this makes an assortment of charming necklaces and bracelets. Kit includes colorful gems and silver beads plus magnetic clasps. We think this will appeal to slightly younger girls than the Bead SHop version which has more serious looking beads and organdy that needs to be cut in a point and stiffened with nail polish. Kids are going to love the finished pieces. This is as the maker says, on the mark (with adult help) for 7s and up.

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

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2002 Award
Dino Riddles
(by Katy Hall & Lisa Eisenberg/ illus. by Nicole Ru, Dial $13.99 Score:) For the mid-beginner who is also a dino-haulic, here is a collection of very corny dinosaur riddles. Oddly enougfh young readers who struggle with little words such as "is" or "the" have no trouble at all with the five dollar variety found in dinosaur books. SO this just might do the trick for a less than avid late first, early second grade reader.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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2003 Award
A Present for Mom
(by Vivian French/ illus. by Dana Kubick, Candlewick $13.99 Score:) Stanley, the youngest kitten in the family is having trouble finding the right gift for Mother's Day. His big sisters and brother each have the perfect gift. But after a great deal of worry, clever little Stanley comes up with a giftbox that Mom loves! Totally priceless and charming! 3 & up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2003.

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