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2000 Awards
Math Curse
(Reading Rainbow / GPN $23.95 Score:) Jon Scieszka's PLATINUM AWARD winning book speaks to the big idea that math is a part of just about everything we do. A trip to a giant FedEx center and the studio of an artist designing a giant mural show kids that whatever they do, math is a piece of the pie. Closed-captioned. 5-8 Still top rated, How Much is a Million? helps kids conceptualize what a million represents-includes a visit to the Crayola factory. PLATINUM AWARD '97.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2000.

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2001 Award
The Magic School Bus Greatest Adventures
(Kid Galaxy $12.95 Score:) New for 2001, this best of video includes Busasaurus, a journey back into the time of dinosaurs (PLATINUM AWARD '98); Get lost in Space and In a Pickle. The series features the wacky Ms. Frizzle (voice of Lily Tomlin) and her class. More recent entries have been more cartoonish than ever. We prefer prior winners: Getting Energized, gives kids a look at different types of energy; Gets Ants In Its Pants, takes a trip into the social world of ants; and The Magic Schoolbus for Lunch, takes a trip through the digestive system. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2001.

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1997 Awards
Dare to Dance
(Grey Dawn Productions $19.95 Score:)

This is not a how-to dance-along tape. It is an inspiring and beautifully crafted video with interviews and film of three young talented dancers from ten to seventeen that captures their feelings and love of dancing. 8-17

Also, I Want to be a Ballerina (Big Kids Productions $14.95) features a behind-the-scenes look at the casting, rehearsing, and highlights of the Nutcracker by student dancers.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 1997. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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1995 Awards
Building Skyscrapers
(David Alpert Association $19.95 Score:) Kaboom! down with the old and up, up, up goes a new skyscraper in New York City. Step by step from implosions to raising the steel and concrete oozing out of the hoses, here's a ringside seat for watching a building go from a foundation to finish. Real construction people, both male and female, answer the questions of a seven-year-old child in a well-paced, clearly written film that was shot from many perspectives, including a helicopter. PLATINUM AWARD '95.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 1995.

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2001 Award
The Blue Angels: In Pursuit of Excellence
(Dreams Come True $14.98 Score:) Get a sense of the precision involved, not just in flying in formation in shows, but at all times as the Blue Angels' team of more than 100 works together to make it all happen. Amazing footage puts you right in the cockpit and for a few heady moments you too will have the wings of an angel! The Big Airshow from the same company was too slow paced for our testers. 7 & up.

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

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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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