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2001 Award
The Big Boom!
(Little Mammoth Media $14.95 Score:) Go inside an active volcano, follow a demolition team as it implodes a 22-story building, and watch supersonic jets flying faster than the speed of sound. Although some of the "factoids" about sound vibrations offered are a stretch for young viewers, kids with an appetite for science information will like this one. 6 & up. Still top-rated, The Big Space Shuttle, with splendid footage of the Shuttle, astronauts in training, and space camp. A wonderful way to explore the vast frontier of space. 5 & up. Platinum Award '99.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2001.

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2001 Award
Awesome Adventures
(Blackboard Entertainment $12.95 Score:) Dive into a tropical reef, snowmobile on Polar ice, explore a rain forest and an ancient cave, in a series of kid-centered adventures around the world. No corny jokes or talking puppets needed-these adventures speak for themselves without talking down to kids or over their heads! 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2001.

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Awards
Mama, Do You Love Me?
(by Barbara Joosse/illus. by Barbara Lavallee, Chronicle $15.95 Score:) An ode to unconditional love. With a series about of "what if?" questions a child tests the limits and finds reassuring answers. Set in the Arctic, Lavellee's illustrations convey a picture of another culture along with the universal theme of love between parent and child. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: .

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2000 Awards
Music Blocks
(Small world toys $69.95 Score:)

A new addition to our Blue Chip Award list. Remains one of our favorite toys, ever.  Here's what we wrote in 2000: One of the most innovative toys of the year! We were skeptical about such an expensive musical toy for kids-that was, until we played it! Imagine five colored plastic blocks each side with a geometric shape and representing a different sound. Match the shapes or play them in random order -there's no right or wrong way. Push on the blocks to play musical phrases! What sets this toy apart is the quality of the sound: woodwinds, trumpets, percussion. Comes with "Mozart's Night Music" cartridge. Bring home the "Rhythms of the World" cartridge right away. The new Disney music cartridges are not recommended since they produce a disconcerting disconnected effect so that songs do not make sense. We also found that the new Discovery Block, a big fabric block with peek-a-boo surprises was overly loud, frenetic, and too didactic. Teaching concepts such as "hexagon" to toddlers who are just learning to speak seems out of sync and not especially playful! 2 & up.

snap info: Want a rewarding tool for developing matching skills? Color concepts? Cause and effect? It's all here, plus great sound quality! Players touch blocks to activate a musical phrase or rhythm. Shapes on the blocks determine what instrument you'll hear. It's fun to mix up the shapes on the blocks for a variety of sounds. Kids with visual disabilities can "read" raised symbols on the blocks. Pricey but one of the most innovative toys we've found for kids with or without disabilities. New for 2000, update with extra cartridges ($19.99 each) of Bach, Jazz or Rhythms; a Cyber Cartridge ($49.99) downloads music from the internet.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2000. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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1994 Awards
The Little Engine That Could
(by Watty Piper/illus. by George and Doris Hauman, Putnam $4.95 Score:) Who will help the little Blue Engine and all the toys over the mountain? A well-loved story that talks to the importance of perseverance and confidence.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 1994.

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1994 Awards
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
(by Laura J. Numeroff/illus. by Felicia Bond, HarperCollins $12.95 Score:) What happens if you give a mouse a cookie? Why, of course, he's going to want a glass of milk. Kids love the delicious cause-and-effect way the story builds. This was the first of a delightful series.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 1994.

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1994 Awards
Curious George
(by H. A. Rey, Houghton Mifflin $14.95 Score:) One of many satisfying tales about an adventuresome monkey and the man in the big yellow hat. You probably grew up with this storybook character and his love of independence. Many of the stories will be even more appropriate for early school age kids who identify with George and his hunger for independence and mischievous ways. 3-7

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 1994.

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1994 Awards
Caps for Sale
(by Esphyr Slobodkina, HarperTrophy $3.95 Score:) What happens when an old peddler falls asleep and a tree full of monkeys take his stack of hats? With its repetitive refrain and humor, this favorite read aloud gives kids a chance to feel so much smarter than the peddler. A classic!

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 1994.

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1995 Awards
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
(by Eric Carle, Philomel $15.95 Score:) Toddlers love the repetition of the text, the subject of eating and the sensory fun of poking little fingers into the holes the hungry caterpillar has eaten through. A young science book that will also be enjoyed by preschoolers.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 1995.

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1995 Awards
Wimmer-Ferguson Car Seat Gallery
(Manhattan Toy $12 Score:) We've tried many new entries in this category for car-seat entertainment and found that this remains the best choice for back-facing car seats. Hang this four-way pattern pocket chart on the back seat of the car to entertain your little traveler. There are 20 different patterns in black/white and primary and primary colors to gaze at. Ideal for newborns.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 1995.

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