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2001 Awards
Color Wonder Paper and Markers
(Crayola $7.99 Score:)

This innovative art material is great for travel as well as home because the chunky markers are colorless and won't stain anything. Best of all, they have a magic quality-they turn color as kids draw on the special paper. This comes with coloring books that keep color inside the lines, but we prefer the open-ended paper that kids can use any way they like. 2 & up.

SNAP INFO: There's something magical about these markers with colorless tips that turn to true colors when used on special paper. A great choice for encouraging kids to develop the eye hand skills they need for writing. Activity: Use a crayon or regular marker to make dots kids can connect with the special markers. Draw dots to form letters, numbers, or pictures.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2001. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2001 Award
Tolo Activity Play Triangle
(Reeves International $10 Score:)

Happy to see this Platinum Award winner back in the market! Little hands can easily activate the spinners on this rattling activity toy that's ideal for two-handed investigations. There's a ratchet dial on one side, a reflection bead chamber on the other side, and in the center there's a small spinning mirror, big egg-shaped beads, and a barrel for developing the use of individual fingers and as a colorful rolling toy for small social games. We have not received safety verification for this product and we have not tested it in an independent lab.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2001.

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2001 Awards
The Inventors' Specials
(Devine Entertainment $19.95 Score:) An excellent series about famous scientists introduces young viewers to the past with an artful blend of fact and fiction. Each film pairs a well-known scientist with a young person-and both learn much from each other. Marie Curie (OPPENHEIM TOY PORTFOLIO PLATINUM AWARD 2001) is an exciting tale of two sisters whose lives cross paths with Madame Curie during World War I. The girls believe that the Nobel scientist is a spy, and the story allows us to follow Madame Curie's fight to use her revolutionary x-ray machine to save lives. In the end it is Curie's invention that saves the girls' father. Edison (OPPENHEIM TOY PORTFOLIO PLATINUM AWARD 2001 ) opens with a chase scene as a runaway orphan boy literally runs into the scientist's lab where he becomes an apprentice. A wonderful period piece! 9 & up. Also top rated: Galileo, in which a young prince comes to study with the scientist; Leonardo and his dream of being able to fly; Einstein: Light to the Power of 2 portrays a bigoted teacher, a young black girl in the '50s, and the world-famous scientist who befriends her. 9 & up.

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

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2001 Awards
Arthur's Famous Friends
(Sony $12.95 Score:) This is the best Arthur video we've seen in ages! Each of the three stories features a guest visitor whose voice is used with animated images. In the first segment, Mr. Rogers comes to visit, but Arthur thinks Mr. Rogers is for babies and is surprised to discover his friends want to meet their old friend. In the second story, poet Jack Prelutsky comes to the local library for a poetry contest and recites some of his own verse. There's some gratuitous gross-out verse in this segment that we could have done without, but kids will find it funny. The third episode, with Yo Yo Ma, centers on a debate about jazz vs. classical music. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2001.

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2001 Awards
Behind the Scenes with Robert Gil de Montes
(First Run Features $14.95 Score:) With lots of amusing help from the comedy team of Penn & Teller, playfully introduces viewers to the "tricks of the trade" of color and perspective that artists use on canvas or computer. Watching de Montes' painting evolve may inspire young artists or at least help them to better understand the creative process at work. Like others in this outstanding series, this is a keeper! 8 & up. Also new and top rated: Behind the Scenes with Allen Toussant and Joann Falletta. Previous OPPENHEIM TOY PORTFOLIO PLATINUM AWARD 2000 winners: Behind the Scenes with Max Roach, David Hockey, and Carrie Mae Weems. 8 & up.

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

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2001 Awards
The Artists Special: Mary Cassatt: American Impressionist
(Devine Entertainment $19.95 Score:) Rather than doing biographies of an artist's whole lifetime, these new made-for-TV Artists Series zoom in on a short but significant period in an artist's life. They weave fact and fiction in a relationship between an artist and a young person with very human and universal problems. For example, in Mary Cassatt: American Impressionist, the artist fears her visiting family from America will intrude upon her work in Paris. Instead the children provide inspiration plus a meeting with Edgar Degas. Amy Brenneman (of "Judging Amy") stars as Mary Cassatt. 8 & up. Also top-rated, In Degas and the Dancer, struggling with debt and his own self-doubt, Edgar Degas inspires a young dancer to believe in herself and her talent. In helping her, he helps himself. For those who love Degas, the ballet, or both-this is not to be missed! Also top-rated: Rembrandt: Fathers & Sons and Monet: Shadow & Light. 8 & up.

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

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2001 Awards
Stuart Little
(Columbia Tristar $24.96 Score:)

Those who loved E.B. White's book may feel betrayed yet again with the Hollywood version, but some parents preferred the film to the original. Unlike the book's ending, here Stuart (Michael J. Fox) is happily reunited with the Littles (played by Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, and Jonathan Lipnicki). The mix of animation and live-action high jinks can be confusing and a bit scary to preschoolers who don't have real and make-believe sorted out quite yet. A better choice for 6 & up. Closed-captioned.

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

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2001 Awards
October Sky
(Universal $14.98 Score:) It's 1957 and Homer's sights are on the stars and Sputnik, not the coal mines that have swallowed the dreams and hopes of his father's generation. An inspiring film that speaks to believing in oneself and keeping hope alive. Closed-captioned. PG.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2001.

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2001 Awards
My Dog Skip
(Warner Bros. $22.96 Score:) With the help of his dog, 9-year-old Willie overcomes loneliness, fear, and his small stature. Set in WWII, this is a good blend of humor, adventure, and the bigger issues of growing up, finding friends, and figuring out what being a hero really means. Skip's eventual death, after Willie grows up, is treated sensitively at the end, with just a voice-over. 8 & up.

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

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2001 Awards
Disney Presents Annie
(Disney $19.99 Score:) If you missed this on network TV during the holidays or you wish you could see it again, here's a masterful, made-for-TV production of the musical Annie. Kathy Bates plays the dastardly Miss Hannigan to 12-year-old Alicia Morton's spunky Annie, with Victor Garber as Daddy Warbucks and Audra MacDonald as his secretary. It's better than the movie or other revivals we've seen. This is a keeper! 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2001.

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