Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978
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Madden NFL 08 Madden NFL 08
Ages: All Ages
Electronic Arts, $49.99

Madden for Wii gives game players plenty to do. The Franchise mode, Superstar mode, Trivia mode, a host of fun mini-games (including YAC Attack, Kicking Combine, 2-on-2, Precision Passing and Chase and Tackle) and new online play mode takes the game deeper. Younger players may especially get hooked on the improved Superstar Challenge mode, which lets them create a rookie with certain attributes, then bring him through the process of becoming a professional football player, from signing with an agent to doing workout drills to getting into games and, eventually, going to the Hall of Fame. EA has also added a Family Play option as well which takes most of the intense control-everything game play out of the hands of the player and lets them focus on passing, delivering big hits, stiff-arming defenders, swatting and kicking the ball, and juking tacklers using the motion-sensing remotes. Call it Training-Wheels Madden.

Oball Oball
Ages: All Ages
Rhino Toys, Inc., $6.95

An affordable, well-made, fun toy that aids in teaching basic skills. Infants and toddlers can learn easily, happily and safely to throw and catch a ball. The colorful hollow O-ball is devoid of unnecessary embellishment. Bravo, Rhino!

Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 08 Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 08
Ages: All Ages
Electronic Arts, $49.99

Wii players who just need to have a golf game are in luck - this is the one golf game players should own before buying any other. There are so many modes to play in this game, it'll take players forever to get through them all. There's normal stroke play, match play, Bloodsome, Greensome, Skins, Stableford, Alternate, Best Ball, and Four Ball. Five arcade-golf games and the brand new and really fun Elimination mode-where players assemble a team of eight players from the roster of 23 pros and each hole eliminates one of them. There are also five mini games -- mini-putt, target, T-I-G-E-R, capture and target2target. While this Tiger doesn't have online play, it is loaded with multiplayer options that make it a great party game. What's really cool about this game is that a kid interested in learning to play golf-meaning real golf-can actually learn a lot about the game starting here.

Easy Score Basketball
Ages: 1 - 5 yrs.
The Little Tikes Company, $25.99

The sturdy toddler sized basketball hoop adjusts to six different heights, growing right along with developing athletes.

KikaFlik KikaFlik
Ages: 3 - 7 yrs.
KikaFlik Inc., $35.00

With this innovative piece of equipment, a child can practice catching and batting a ball without need of a teammate. A 39-inch length of brightly-painted wood has a small fulcrum near one end. As a ball rolls down the incline, it becomes airborne when the child steps on the other end of the board. The child can either catch the ball as it drops, or use a racket or bat to practice tennis or baseball. Three soft, foam balls in different sizes and colors are included.

Good Sports
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Jack Prelutsky   Illustrator: Chris Raschka  
Random House Children's Books/Knopf, $16.99 (Hard Cover)   

With a cheerful poem about almost every sport that children love, the poet captures the pride of success, the disappointment of failure, and the sheer fun of participation. The untitled poems are exuberant without being unrealistic, understanding without being patronizing. They are simply great fun.

Speed Stacks Glow in the Dark Stack Pack
Ages: 4 & Up
Play Along, Inc., $29.99

Stacking and unstacking 12 plastic cups in predetermined sequence may not sound like the work of Nobel scientists, but it does take more than meets the eye. Hand-eye coordination, focus and ambidexterity are required. Practice counts, big time. Play alone to improve your personal best, or play against others.

Hey Batta Batta Swing Hey Batta Batta Swing
Ages: 6 - 10 yrs.
Author: Sally Cook   Illustrator: Ross MacDonald  
Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (Hard Cover)   

Anytime of year baseball fans can spend time brushing up on trivia and historical bits about America's favorite pastime, thanks to the new book Hey Batta Batta Swing! Authors James Charlton (of the Society for American Baseball Research) and Sally Cook have put together an engaging look at the history of baseball in America, including sidebars on the colorful terminology used in the game. While the book is designed for a young audience adult baseball fans will find plenty to engage their interest - this book is for baseball lovers of all ages.

Surf's Up Surf's Up
Ages: 6 - 10 yrs.
mPRm Public Relations, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $28.95 (DVD)   

Apparently, America's young people like penguins - a lot; they also like surfing. So, the keen minds in the motion picture industry bring these two together in Surf's Up, an enjoyable 85 minutes of family entertainment. The plot is that of countless sports movies: a young hotshot learns the hard way that friendship and pure love of the game matter more than winning. Still, the gags are fun, the endearing characters are well-voiced by those including Shia LaBeouf, Jon Heder, Zooey Deschanel and Jeff Bridges, and the animation is first-rate.

Design Your Own Soccer Ball Kit Design Your Own Soccer Ball Kit
Ages: 6 - 12 yrs.
Design Your Own, $19.99

This kit combines sports and crafts into one package. Everything you need is included - a real hand-sewn all-weather regulation size soccer ball for authentic play, a pump and needle, specialized non-toxic paints and instructions. Great for both boys and girls.

Hyper Dash Hyper Dash
Ages: 6 - 12 yrs.
Wild Planet Entertainment, Inc., $19.99

If the kids are feeling restless and need to expend a little energy, how about giving them a game that tests their reflexes and speed of thought? Known as Hyper Dash, this electronic action game for kids aged six and up comes with a "tagger" as well as five "targets". Targets can be arranged in any space (as long as it is not too big), and the hand-held unit calls out a target that the kids have to run to and "tag." Played inside or out, Hyper Dash is great for birthday parties, bored kids, siblings looking for a fun diversion or anyone who wants to test their speed, stamina and ability to stop on a dime. No two games are ever the same.

Hyper Jump Hyper Jump
Ages: 6 & Up
Wild Planet Entertainment, Inc., $29.99

This clever, active game gets kids thinking on their feet - literally! - as they jump and hop to follow commands. Kids at the younger end of the spectrum can keep up with simple instructions such as jumping from one color or number to the next. Older kids will be challenged by more complex sequences that get trickier based on skill level, as well as a "reverse" command that requires them to remember the last steps they completed. Races between kids can be timed for added competition or kids can strive to beat their best time in solo play mode. Here, the words hyper and activity are a winning combination.

Stories in Music: Casey at the Bat
Ages: 6 & Up
Magic Maestro Music div. of Simon & Simon, LLC, $16.98 (CD)   

With a performance by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, composer-conductor Stephen Simon has given the symphonic, narrative treatment to American poet Ernest Lawrence Thayer's classic poem about a baseball hero's fall from glory.

Baseball for Everyone: Stories from the Great Game Baseball for Everyone: Stories from the Great Game
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Janet Wyman Coleman   Author: Elizabeth V. Warren  
Harry N. Abrams, Inc., $16.95 (Hard Cover)   

This colorful tour of baseball's history, illustrated with folk art and collectibles, shows why the sport is called "America's Pastime". From pick-up games played by children, Civil War soldiers, firemen, and college students, to the formation of the first professional leagues, this is a democratic look at the sport illustrated with early baseball cards, paintings, quilts, signs, carved bats, and more. Book Description

Play Ball Like the Pro's
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Steven Krasner  
Peachtree Publishers, $12.95 (Paperback)

This is a great instructional book filled with useful and insightful tips aimed at kids working at honing their baseball skills--all in the words of 20 of the game's top major-league ballplayers. Separate chapters cover basics such as catching, pitching, each infield position, playing the outfield, hitting, and base running.

Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam
Ages: 8 - 18 yrs.
Activision, Inc., $34.99

The key word here is "downhill." This one's different than the usual flat courses Tony has sent videogamers into. It's still high-speed boarding with some of the old and familiar tricks and grinds, plus a few new ones - but let's just say the field is anything but level now.

Harry's Grand Slam Baseball Harry's Grand Slam Baseball
Ages: 8 & Up
Out of the Box Publishing, $14.99

Imagine being able to play a complete baseball game on your kitchen table. A reproduction of Harry Obst's original card game from 1962, the game includes 54 illustrated play cards, a baseball "diamond", an outfield scoreboard, both updated and original rules, a card reference sheet, and a history of Harry's Grand Slam Baseball Game, all conveniently housed in a sturdy tin.

SmartLab Face-Off! Air Hockey SmartLab Face-Off! Air Hockey
Ages: 8 & Up
SmartLab, $19.99

Fake left, shoot right, SCORE! Discover why air hockey is the fastest table sport in the world. Kit includes a snap-together mini air hockey table with a blower motor, pucks, and paddles - everything kids need to throw down a championship game of air hockey. Not only will kids revel in the thrill of competition, they'll also learn about the science and physics behind this popular fast-paced sport.

Sports Illustrated Kids Sports Illustrated Kids
Ages: 8 & Up
Time, Inc.,

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED KIDS magazine covers sports for the young enthusiast. Interviews with sports heroes, comics, and plenty of action photos.

The Aurora County All-Stars The Aurora County All-Stars
Ages: 9 - 12 yrs.
Random House/Listening Library, $30.00 (CD)   

In small-town Mississippi, the Aurora County All Stars missed the team's one competitive game the year before due to star pitcher House's broken elbow. Now, the team may miss their chance this year, due to plans for the town's 200th anniversary pageant scheduled for the same day. As friends fall out and the past is shown to have lessons for the present, quiet 12-year-old House finds his voice and the meaning of Whitman's "symphony true"--in the legacy of friendship and compassion left by a mysterious old recluse, and in a sandlot game that exists a world away from steroid scandals and multimillion dollar contracts.

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