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Mozart's Magic Cube
(em-bry-on-ics $34.99 Score:) Too bad they forgot the volume control on this musical block. Babies are supposed to press the sides of the block to hear a French horn, flute, violin, piano or the whole orchestra. This is cheaper than Neurosmith's Platinum Award winning Musical Blocks but the latter are far more versatile, playing many kinds of music and have sound quality that is worth the price. These are a pale imitation.

Age: Infants. Award Year: .

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2001 Award
Franklin In the Dark
(USA Home Entertainment $12.95 Score:) If you're dealing with nighttime "monsters", Franklin In the Dark may help. In this little story Franklin is afraid of dark places. Mother Turtle has a story that assures Franklin he is not alone. On the other hand, if you aren't dealing with monsters-don't bring any home.

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

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Music & Lights Sit 'n Spin
(Playskool $19.99 Score:) They added lights and sounds to this classic toy and these electronic extras are anything but a plus. It's loud and totally annoying. But according to one tester the sounds and lights didn't hold up anyway. Another example of less was more. Nor do we think 18 months an ideal age for this kind of toy.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: .

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1995 Awards
The Runaway Bunny
(by Margaret Wise Brown/illus. by Clement Hurd, HarperCollins $12 Score:) A little bunny declares his independence and his mother assures him that she'll still be there for him wherever he goes. For older kids this would be smothering- for preschoolers it's a comforting backup! 3-5.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 1995.

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1995 Awards
A Snowy Day
(by Ezra Jack Keats, Viking $14 Score:)

Peter's snowball may melt away, but the strength of this beautiful book reflects a child's wonderment with snow and all its sensory magic. Keat's collage illustrations are still right on target in this ageless picture book. Also available in Spanish. 3 & up.


Age: Preschool. Award Year: 1995. Click here to purchase the product on

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1995 Awards
The Nutshell Library
(by Maurice Sendak, HarperCollins $12 Score:) Each of the four little books in this collection is a gem in its own right. Fours adore the defiant "Pierre" who declares he doesn't care...until a lion teaches him to do so. Then there's the most delicious compendium of months to sip and chant in "Chicken Soup and Rice". "One Was Johnny" is a counting book and "Alligators All Around" an amusing alphabet. 4 & up.

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

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2001 Awards
Really Wild Animals
(Columbia Tristar $14.95 Score:) A lively blend of splendid film footage, information, and music have made this series a hit with kids. Dudley Moore narrates all three videos: Monkey Business looks at animal families; Dinosaurs and Other Creature Features explores the mysteries and characteristics of some of the weirdest wildlife; Polar Prowl travels from North to South Pole. Closed-captioned. 5-11

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

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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

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