Butterfly in a Jar

Gemmy Industries is well-known for introducing products that go beyond the scope of “novelty” to be considered a “craze.” Remember Big Mouth Billy Bass and Frankie the Fish? Well this new item is a little more refined (i.e. it doesn’t talk). It’s a butterfly in a jar. Now before you get upset, it’s not a real butterfly, it’s pretend. But if you’re sensitive, you still might feel a little bit bad for the trapped butterfly. Don’t try to let it go free, it’s not real! You can enjoy the butterfly’s beauty, without any guilt.

Tap on the jar and the butterfly flutters about. Everyone who walks by my desk has asked, “Is that a real butterfly?” No. It’s not. So stop looking at me like that.

For more information, visit www.gemmy.com.

Journey for Change 2 Program Participants Share Stories on KaritoKids.com

Karito Kids and author Malaak Compton Rock, founder of Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service, are partnering to introduce the new awareness project to the Karito Kids audience. In the partnership, 12 girls from Compton-Rock’s Journey for Change 2 program, in which at-risk girls ages 12 to 15 from Brooklyn travel to Johannesburg, South Africa, share stories of their current service trip with the Karito Kids audience on the company’s website, www.karitokids.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. The daily updates include blog posts, photos, and videos.

Participants of Compton-Rock’s program, known as Global Ambassadors, are serving two weeks in the poverty-stricken shanty towns of Diepsloot and Soweto, helping orphans, vulnerable children (OVC), and granny-led households (households in which grandmothers care for grandchildren due to their own children dying of AIDS). The girls will return to New York City on September 3, where they will continue their service and advocacy in the U.S. for a full year.

Image Credit: Karitokids.com

KI.KA Secures Broadcasting Deal for New Babar Series

German broadcaster KI.KA has purchased the first 26 episodes of Nelvana Enterprises‘ new animated series, Babar and the Adventures of Badou. The series will launch on the channel in spring 2011. Babar and the Adventures of Badou is an updated version of the classic Babar series and introduces King Babar’s 8-year-old grandson, Badou. In the CGI series, Badou and his friends Chiku the monkey, Zawadi the zebra, and others explore the exotic world of Celestville. The show, for kids ages 4 to 7, is a co-production by Nelvana Studio and TeamTO, in association with The Clifford Ross Company.

The series will premiere on YTV in Canada this November and is set to air on TFI in France, Playhouse Disney Japan, Disney Channel in Italy and Spain, ABC TV in Australia, TV2 in Norway, YLE 2 in Finland, DR TV in Denmark, Thai PBS, SRC for French Canada, and M-Net in South Africa, among others.

Image Credit: ToonBarn.com

Money Savvy Pig Teaches Kids About Handling Money

The Money Savvy Pig, by Money Savvy Generation, is a unique piggy bank that teaches kids basic money skills. The piggy bank is divided into four chambers—Save, Spend, Donate, and Invest—which can help parents and grandparents spur a conversation about money. The Money Savvy Pig is available in six colors and is recommended for kids ages 4 to 11.

Additionally, Money Savvy Generation has released a book series co-written by the company’s CEO Susan Beacham and author Lynnette Khalfani-Cox. The books bring the four money choices to life with stories that follow Sandy the saver, Dennis the donator, Stephanie the spender, and Isaiah the investor. In the series, the four friends go on various money adventures that children ages 7 to 12 can relate to.

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Monopoly Gives Away the Bank

This summer, Hasbro is celebrating the 75th anniversary of Monopoly by giving away the bank, which totals $20,580. The contest, Monopoly “Money Makes it Real,” started on July 15 and runs through September 3. Fans can visit www.Monopoly.com and describe what they would do if the money in their Monopoly game were real. Entries are limited to 75 words or less and will be based on how they “demonstrate a commitment o the spirit of Monopoly, such as travel, home repair or any other activity inspired by the history of the game, the Community Chest and Chance cards, the tokens, or the game play.” After the entries are collected, participants invite friends and family to vote for their entry to be picked as one out of the 75 entrants with the most votes. The final 75 participants, picked on September 27, will be considered for the grand prize.

Additionally, Monopoly is giving away the bank to S.O.S. Children’s Villages, a charity organization that builds houses for abandoned and at risk children. For 75 hours starting at midnight GMT on September 27, fans can vote for which project they want to see funded. Projects include daycare, medical supplies, school fees, seeds for family farms, soccer balls, and more.

For more information, visit www.Monopoly.com.

Adams Media to Release Kidz Bop Book Line

Publisher Adams Media will release a new book line starting next May based on the kids music brand Kidz Bop. The Kidz Bop line will feature both fiction and nonfiction books, including a fill-in-the-blank story, a junior novelization chronicling the life of the Kidz Bop Kids, and a rock star’s guide to starting a band. Each Kidz Bop book will be packaged with a special code that will be redeemable for a free Kidz Bop MP3 download. The books will range in prices from $4.99 to $8.99, and e-books will be released simultaneously. Readers will also be able to log on to www.kidzbop.com and vote on story lines, upload original videos for e-book inclusion, and access bonus promotional content.

Record a Story Allows Readers to Become the Narrator

It may be difficult falling asleep when parents and guardians aren’t around to read bedtime stories. Publications International, Ltd., however, has a solution in its new Record a Story line of books, available nationwide this fall. The storybooks feature seven pages that can be individually narrated, with children and adults able to re-record stories as often as they like. The first line of books features classics such as Twas the Night Before Christmas, as well as the contemporary Guess How Much I Miss You.

Publications International is also debuting the program “Operation Record a Story” this November and December. Under the program, which works in tandem with the United Through Reading Military Program hosted by the USO,  military personnel read Record a Story books while being filmed, and both the recorded DVD and the narrated book are shipped to children back home.

Pretty Ugly Releases Exclusive Uglydoll at Learning Express

Pretty Ugly, LLC has released a limited edition Uglydoll character that is available exclusively at Learning Express stores nationwide, while supplies last. The Learning Express Nandy Bear is bright blue with pale pink eyes, and is available in classic, two-foot oversized, and keychain miniature sizes.

As with other Uglydoll characters, Nandy Bear comes with a special story:

“OK, so you may have Nandy Bear all figured out but there’s still a lot about you [that] Nandy has to learn! No time to waste! Hey, that’s why they call it Learning Express. This special edition of Nandy Bear was created special for Learning Express… but he was made for you. And you are a limited edition of one. OK, so now that everyone is special and everything, let’s go have some fun already.”

To find a Learning Express store, visit www.learningexpress.com.

Twenga Reports 150 Percent Increase in Children’s Costumes Searches

Shopping search engine Twenga is reporting that children’s costumes have become the fifth most popular item on its website. According to the site, searches for children’s costumes have increased steadily over the last few months and July reported a 150 percent increase.

The website reports that the most popular theme searches for children’s costumes, from July 17 to August 16, 2010, were (in ranked order): Viking, Bullfighter, Jockey, Wolf, Musketeer, Zebra, Greek, Chinese, Pop Star, and Monkey. The top 10 children’s character costumes for that period were Donald Duck, Pocahontas, Snow White, Bambi, Bleach, Smurfs, Zelda, Muppets, Michael Jackson, and Totally Spies.

Photo Credit: Amazon.com, Child’s Gladiator Costume by Rubie’s

Gumby Gets New Comic Book Series

According to ICV2.com, a new comic book miniseries featuring characters from Gumby is set to premiere in November starting with an issue starring Pokey, Gumby’s sidekick. The four-part miniseries, Gumby’s Gang, will also feature Prickle, Goo, and the Blockheads.

All four issues are written by Michael Aushenker and are illustrated by different artists: Rafael Navarro for the Pokey comic book, Chris Grines for Prickle, Mary Gutfleisch for Goo, and Lord Mesa for the Blockheads.