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1996 Awards
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
(Disney $12.99 Score:) The story of that very well-loved, hungry caterpillar has been transformed into a totally magical video! Animation and music have enhanced Eric Carle's beautiful illustrations and given them another dimension while retaining their original beauty. Five other gems also appear on this video: "Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me," "The Mixed-up Chameleon," "The Very Quiet Cricket," and "I See a Song." A delicate blend of imagination and information illuminated with great artistry. Closed-captioned. 2-6.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 1996.

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2005 Awards
Mulan
(Disney $24.99 Score:) We have not yet seen the DVD of this winning film. We expect the additioni of games, extra music and behind the scenes features will only make a good thing better. In a season with not too many bright choices, this is a welcome retred of a previous Platinum winner. This is what we wrote in 2000. "Featuring a strong and courageous girl who fights in her father's place and rejects the traditional female role, this video won high marks from our viewers. The music and imagery of China are stunning for any age audience. Although this film is not without violence (it is about war, after all), it is not here for its own sake. There is a bigger story here with clear lines of good and evil. Suspenseful without being overly violent, Disney should use this well-crafted film as a model for future films. 6 & up."

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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1999 Awards
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride
(Disney $26.99 Score:) In this Romeo and Juliet tale (with a much happier ending), Simba's daughter and Scar's son meet, and their love story is the vehicle for making peace with the past and reuniting the two prides. The lines between good and evil are very clear and, therefore, scary scenes are more suspenseful than terrifying. Smaller in scale than the original, it is visually beautiful and clearly conveys that prejudices and grudges need not be passed from one generation to the next. Not for preschoolers. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 1999.

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1999 Awards
Fairy Tale
(Paramount $19.95 Score:) During World War I when so many lost loved ones, sťances and a belief in spiritualism was not at all unusual. In fact, famous people such as Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were well known for their beliefs in the supernatural. Set against that time and place, two girls, who have also suffered losses, discover real fairies in the garden. Their photos cause quite a stir among both believers and others. Not for small children. A beauty! 8-80s.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 1999.

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2001 Awards
Cheerios Play Book Bingo Game
(Briarpatch $19.99 Score:)

An eye-appealing matching lotto-style game with bright easy to "know-and-name" objects. Builds visual discrimination and language. Players get to take the Cheerios from the playing board when they make a match. This game has been discontinued.

SNAP INFO: This lotto style matching game reinforces language as well as matching skills. Clear illustrations of familiar items make this easy for kids to use with an edible reward for matches. Before you play establish that kids know the names of the playing pieces. Like all games from this maker there are suggestions for great variations you can play.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2001.

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2001 Awards
Scratch-Art Magic Packs
(Scratch-Art Co. $4.99 Score:)

Remember making scratch art with crayon scribbles covered with black paint that you scratched away? Now Scratch-Art Dazzle paper is ready made and has glittering foil effects that appear when you scratch the black away. A package with 4 sheets, a stylus, stencil, and instructions makes an inexpensive but special treat. Or look for a Combo pack with Dazzle, Stained Glass and Rainbow, Black & White sheets. 5 & up.

SNAP INFO: Remember making scratch art with crayon scribbles covered with black paint that you scratch away? Now Scratch & Sparkle has glittering holographic foil effects that appear. The Combo 4-Pack is fun with Holographic, Stained Glass, Rainbow, and Black and White sheets. An inexpensive but special treat! A good way to motivate kids to use those fine motor skills needed for writing. ADAPTION: Holding this skinny paper in place can be a problem, especially if kids are using stencils. We suggest taping the paper down so it won't slip.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2001. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2001 Awards
Dino Adventure
(Lauri $14.99 Score:) Dinoholics' hands and imaginations will have plenty of action with this traveling case of take along dinos. There are two large dinos to lace or trace, a play setting with a palm tree and volcano, and lots of little dinos to string, sort by color, or move about for dramatic play. Develops fine motor skills along with language and dramatic play. 4-7.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2001.

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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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