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Don't Miss October 2011

Family-friendly movies and games everyone's talking about.

Donald McDermott

Paw-fect for Halloween
Mayim Bialik and Joey Lawrence, stars of the 1990s sitcom Blossom, reunite on screen to lend their voices to The Dog Who Saved Halloween. A fabulous addition to the Dog Who Saved original movie series, the adventure is sure to get kids into the spirit of the season as the Bannister family and their beloved Labrador retriever Zeus move into a new house just in time for Halloween. A howling good time, the flick is now available on DVD.

Anniversary Celebration
The Magic School Bus celebrates its 25th anniversary this fall. The popular science education brand currently has more than 58 million books in print and has been on the air consistently in the United States since its television series debuted in 1994. The anniversary celebration includes special animated episodes, a new video game and a long-awaited smartphone app. For programming schedules, release dates and more information, visit www.scholastic.com/magicschoolbus.

Scary and Scrumptious
Know a child who thrives on making crazy faces, especially with food? IHOP’s Scary Face Pancake Giveaway returns to participating IHOP restaurants on October 28. This tasty annual event enables kids ages 12 and younger to design and dine on their free scary face pancake creations from 7am to 10pm. Scary face pancakes are also available for purchase throughout October and like all IHOP Just for Kids menu items, the pancakes are less than 600 calories per serving. For more information or to find an IHOP restaurant near you, log onto www.ihop.com.

Are You Game?
An old-school arcade favorite gets a modern-day makeover as Atari presents Centipede: Infestation. The amazing new game has all of the fun off the original version with enough state-of-the-art touches to make it a must-have for today’s generation of gamers. Geared for ages 10 and older, Centipede: Infestation is available in stores and online beginning October 30.

Here Kitty Kitty
Before he was a loyal friend to Shrek and Donkey, everyone’s favorite sword fighting cat set out on an adventure of his own in Puss in Boots. This animated prequel from DreamWorks Animation follows Puss and his sidekicks Humpty Dumpty and Kitty Softpaws as they try to save the world from two outlaws named Jack and Jill. Opening in theaters on November 4, Puss in Boots features the vocal talents of Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis and Billy Bob Thornton.

Trick or Treat
Enable kids to accompany Dora and pals on four exciting journeys in Dora’s Halloween Parade. The festive DVD from Nickelodeon Home Entertainment asks children to participate in situations where each step of the journey consists of a problem or puzzle that Dora and her audience must think their way through. In each episode, Dora teaches Spanish words and phrases to viewers, encouraging kids to sound out the words while assisting in problem solving. The title is available in stores and online.

Searching for a Star
The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute welcomes parents with babies 1 year old and younger to participate in the Baby Star Search Photo Contest. To enter, go to GREENGUARD’s Facebook page, hit “like” and then upload a current photo of your child along with your answer to the question, “What’s the single most important thing you do to keep your baby healthy in your home?” The baby that earns the most votes wins a spot in the limelight as the face of GREENGUARD’s next print advertisement in a 2012 issue of a national parenting magazine. The contest runs until October 20. Find complete rules on the company’s Facebook page, which is the exclusive place to enter.

Grr-eat Costume Ideas
Transform your little ones into wildly adorable creatures this Halloween with the line of costumes recently unleashed from Animal Planet. Choose from a cuddly chimp, cute lovebird, scary raptor and monarch butterfly, just to name a few. The line also brings a variety of costume kits for pets. The costumes are available at Costume Craze, Party City, www.amazon.com and other locations. For further details, check out www.animalplanet.com.

Face Time
Balloon Time questions parents if their 3-11 year olds have what it takes to win the Put a Face on Fun photo contest. In addition to winning a professional photo shoot and a spot on Balloon Time’s packaging next year, the grand prize winner receives a Disney Cruise Line family vacation for four people, subject to availability. Fifty first prize winners receive Balloon Time 30 Helium Balloon Kits. Submissions are accepted through November 6. To enter or learn more, visit www.putafaceonfun.com.

That’s the Spirit
Find the clues, solve the mystery and win the contest. The rules are simple in The Spirit Glass (Seven Footer Kids Press), the delightful new “can you find it” book by Justin Heimberg. Readers use MagicView technology to bring unseen images to life as they search for ghosts in a haunted house, skeletons in a graveyard, hidden messages in spiderwebs and much more. The perfect read for your child’s Halloween revelry, the book is currently on sale.

This column appeared in the October 2011 issue.