The Adorable Anticipation of the Google Santa Tracker

by Amy Kraft on December 24, 2014

For years we’ve been a NORAD Santa Tracker family, but today we discovered Google’s Santa Tracker. It’s super cute, filled with funny little animations.

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Being Google, it also give you great data. As I write this sentence, Santa is 14,396 km away from New York City, and he has delivered more than 2.5 billion presents. Olive contends that proves he has elves that do some of the delivering as well, and indeed, Google shows us present-carrying elves wearing jetpacks. We also saw an in-air landing strip where Santa takes a nap while presents are refilled into the sleigh from a Rudolph blimp.

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There are also games. Both kids did well delivering presents over the global grid. We’re exited to see what other surprises await.

Merry Christmas!

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A Sad Day on Birdwell Island

by Amy Kraft on December 16, 2014

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With great sadness I’ve learned that Norman Bridwell passed away. I didn’t grow up with Clifford books, but Clifford has been a massive part of my professional life.

In 1999, I got my first job in kids’ media working as an asset manager on a Clifford the Big Red Dog CD-ROM, Clifford Thinking Adventures. Incredibly, a sullen teenager has posted a YouTube video playing through this game. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane, Shake666Productions!

As a character, Clifford was such fun to work with. His size allowed for great sight gags, and it was always a great challenge to give the Clifford games the heart that the books had. Emily Elizabeth and Clifford really loved each other. Since that first CD-ROM, I think I’ve worked on a total of 6? 7? Clifford games. I went from asset manager to game designer, producer, and writer, always trying to do justice to the world Norman Bridwell created.

One of my most recent titles, Clifford Ready-to-Read on Leapster, has become a favorite of Ozzie’s. What a treat to introduce my kids to Clifford. Out of nowhere tonight, Ozzie chose his Clifford toy to sleep with, and darn it if I didn’t get choked up a bit.

Clifford is a big presence in pop culture, too. I’ll always love this Louis C.K. bit about Clifford.

Thank you, Norman Bridwell, for my favorite big, red dog.

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Gift Guide: Graphic Novels and Other Books for Big Kids

December 14, 2014
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I’ll confess that as I receive books to review, my 9-year-old voracious reader works through them much faster than I do, so I asked Olive’s help with this gift guide. She endorses the gift-worthiness of this list. Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi I’ve only read the first few books of this beautiful graphic novel series, but I’ll […]

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Gift Guide: Music

December 12, 2014
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I’ve moved away from doing music reviews lately, but I thought I’d gather up some music love in a handy dandy gift guide. These albums are perfect to stuff stockings or download to all of those new devices the kids may be getting. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, The Perfect Quirk Secret Agent 23 Skidoo remains the undisputed king […]

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Gift Guide: Klutz

December 11, 2014
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You can recognize my love for Klutz by giving the creator of kid kits its own gift guide. Whenever I’m stuck on what to get for a kid, I know that I can go to a store that sells Klutz kits and find something. They’ve gotten better and better at introducing skills and ideas that […]

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Gift Guide: Toys and Games

December 7, 2014
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Gravity Maze We’ve been big fans of the game Laser Maze, so it’s no surprise we like Think Fun’s follow-up, Gravity Maze. Solve the puzzle on each cart by adding pieces to the board so the marble drops down in just the right way. Like many of the games we love, outside of playing the […]

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Gift Guide: Picture Books

November 29, 2014
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First up for gift guides this year are picture books! These books are great for your younger readers, and some are super fun for grown-ups, too. You can find all of these an more in the Media Macaroni store. I’m Brave! by Kate McMullan, illustrated by Jim McMullan One of our favorite books of all […]

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Tiggly Toys: Counting on Your iPad

November 28, 2014
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Every time I see toys that work in conjunction with the iPad, I tend to think that they’re a one-note cool trick. “Yeah, that’s interesting,” I’d thing, “But my kid would play with it for about three minutes.” Also, I’ve been hypothesizing that toys + screens are outside of kids’ play patterns. Why would they […]

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The High Line for the Vehicle-Obsessed

November 23, 2014
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Last weekend, Olive and I were leaving Chelsea Piers and decided to walk the new north section of the High Line. If you’re unfamiliar with New York’s High Line park, it’s a park filled with beautiful plantings and cool design, built on old railroad tracks that run along Manhattan’s west side. It was a cold […]

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Highlights from the KidzVuz Holiday Party

November 22, 2014
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Last weekend marked the 3rd annual KidzVuz Holiday Party, where the lovely people behind the tween review site KidzVuz bring together people, products, and sponsors with a kid-focus. Olive and I picked out some of our favorite things. Downtown Bookworks had a few new additions to their catalog that we loved. I know a bunch […]

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