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Game review: Sesame Street: Elmo’s A-to-Zoo Adventure for the Wii

November 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Eric Goodwin, McClatchy-Tribune

For over 40 years, Sesame Street has been teaching preschoolers about the ABCs and 123s. Those decades of experience and expertise are put to good use in the new Wii game “Sesame Street: Elmo’s A-to-Zoo Adventure” (The Wii version has a suggested retail price of $39.99. The game is also available for the PC and Nintendo DS, which both retail for $29.99).

In the game, your child helps Elmo, Zoe, Zookeeper Chris and their animal friends solve word, letter, shape and color puzzles. Instead of passively operating a joystick, they’ll get to jump, scoop and shake their way through the activities. While the game targets preschoolers, even kindergarten-aged kids will benefit from some of the exercises, especially the word family and spelling games.

Each puzzle begins with audio instructions and an animation showing how to use the Wii-remote to complete the activity. The directions were very clear — I was able to sit back while my 5-year-old daughter figured out everything on her own.

“Elmo’s A-to-Zoo Adventure” features parental controls that, among other things, let you set a limit on the number of games your child plays in a sitting. When that limit is reached, a screen pops up letting him or her know that time’s up. No need to fight over that “one last game” before bath time!

For those times when your child gets stuck during an activity, parents can “tag in” with a second Wii-remote, help out, then just as easily “tag out.” Your child retains their autonomy the whole time.

My one minor gripe with the game was with the control system. “Elmo’s A-to-Z Adventure” requires that you hold the Wii-remote sideways, like a handlebar. To cycle through the selections on the screen, you have to tilt it either to the left or right. My daughter experienced trouble when there were more than three selections on the screen to choose from, like in the Zoe Treasure Hunt activity. Some of the selections were stacked on top of each other, and she got a little frustrated that she had to go through the choices one-at-time rather than using the Wii-remote as a pointer and picking her selection right away. But, I understand how the system might be easier for younger players to comprehend.

My daughter enjoyed playing along with some of her favorite characters, and as a parent, I liked that the activities reinforced the lessons my daughter was learning in school, letting her experience them in a fun, new way.

“Elmo’s A-to-Zoo Adventure” will make a great gift for your youngster this holiday season.

72,000 kids drinking glasses recalled

November 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

By JUSTIN PRITCHARD, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — It didn’t take long for federal regulators to put new rules on what makes a consumer product a “children’s product” to a very public test.

Last month, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission published a detailed explanation of the distinction between the two — a distinction that makes a big difference because it can trigger a range of strict rules.

On Monday, commission staff declared that sets of drinking glasses depicting comic book and movie characters were indeed children’s products, undercutting the position of the importer of the glasses, which said they were marketed to adults.

That decision meant the glasses — which featured images of superheroes including Superman and Wonder Woman, and characters from “The Wizard of Oz” such as Dorothy and the Tin Man — couldn’t have more than 0.03 percent lead. Lab testing commissioned by The Associated Press showed they contained up to 1,000 times that limit in their colored designs.

If they were not children’s products, there would be no limit.

As it turns out, they are. Even as the company that imported the glasses insisted they were adult collectibles, it announced it would voluntarily recall them. Vandor LLC of Utah said it would work with the CPSC to remove from circulation the approximately 72,000 glasses already sold.

The agency, meanwhile, was collecting samples of other glasses that may be deemed children’s products cited in an ongoing Associated Press investigation into dangerous metals in children’s merchandise. The agency’s own inquiry would extend beyond the superhero and Oz glasses to include others cited by AP “that have decorations that children would be attracted to,” said spokesman Scott Wolfson.

In all, about 160,000 glasses have been recalled by two companies since the AP disclosed Sunday that its laboratory tests showed colored designs in a range of glasses contain high levels of lead or were made in such a way that lead or cadmium could escape and contaminate the hands of someone handling them.

Federal regulators have worried that toxic metals rubbing onto children’s hands can get into their mouths.

The concern is long-term, not immediate. While the superhero and Oz glasses had high levels of lead in their designs, they did not release enough to hurt anyone. The issue is whether the glasses, made in China and purchased at the Warner Bros. Studios store in Burbank, Calif., comply with federal limits on lead in children’s products.

Soon after agency spokesman Wolfson said Monday that the CPSC considers the glasses children’s products, Warner Bros. said it would stop selling them. Then Vandor said it would pull them from the broader market.

Both Vandor and Warner Bros. said in separate statements that their decisions were made in “an abundance of caution.” Vandor said the “themed glassware falls within legal limits for lead and cadmium content,” according to its own tests.

Last week, while commenting on AP’s test results, Warner Bros. said, “It is generally understood that the primary consumer for these products is an adult, usually a collector.” On the entertainment giant’s website, however, the superhero glasses were sold alongside a lunch box and children’s T-shirts with superhero images. By late Tuesday, the glasses were no longer available.

Vandor CEO Tom Russo said his company would “work with the CPSC to develop a recall plan.” Details of the recall will be posted on www.vandorproducts.com when available, the company said.
In addition to the Vandor recall, the Coca-Cola Co. voluntarily recalled 88,000 glasses that shed cadmium during AP testing that recreated what could escape from decorations during regular handling. The glasses came in sets of four and were designed to look like cans of Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Sprite.

Coke said late Sunday that the all-red Coke glass prompted the recall “for quality reasons,” not because of a “safety hazard or health threat.” A spokeswoman would not elaborate. The company said it retested the entire set after AP shared its results last week, and saw no problem with the other three designs.

The manufacturer of the Coke glasses, French-owned Arc International, emphasized in a statement attributed to CEO Fred Dohn that the glasses “are safe for their intended use and meet all applicable regulatory standards for cadmium.”

The latest AP testing was prompted by a recall this summer by McDonald’s of 12 million glasses because cadmium escaped from designs depicting four characters in the latest “Shrek” movie.
Arc International officials said in June that the “Shrek” glasses, made at its New Jersey plant, were manufactured according to standard industry practices, which includes the routine use of cadmium to create red and similar colors.

To gauge how widespread the use of lead and cadmium has been — and whether their use poses potential health hazards — AP bought 13 new glasses, plus 22 old glasses dating from the late 1960s to 2007.

Those glasses were subjected to a battery of tests, which looked at whether glasses would shed lead or cadmium from their decorations during normal handling, as well as how much of the toxic metals those decorations contain.

AP’s testing showed that while the Chinese manufacturer of the superhero and Oz glasses loaded the decorations with lead, very little came out of the decorations during testing. Overall, 25 of the 35 glasses tested safe — their decorations shed very low or no detectable amounts of lead or cadmium.

The other 10 glasses shed small but notable levels of lead, cadmium or, in two cases, both.

Lead has long been known to damage young brains; recent research suggests cadmium can do the same. Cadmium also can harm kidneys and bones, especially if it accumulates over time.

Ohio gas jumps 2 cents to average $2.81 a gallon

November 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

COLUMBUS — Ohio gasoline prices are up slightly from last week, coming out of the busy Thanksgiving travel weekend.
A survey from auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express shows Ohio’s average price for regular-grade gasoline has risen to $2.81 a gallon. That’s 2 cents higher than last Monday’s average of $2.79.
Ohio [...]

Deer season in Ohio starts for hunters with guns

November 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

COLUMBUS — The state expects hunters with guns will bag up to 125,000 white-tailed deer during Ohio’s nine-day hunt.
The season runs from today through Sunday and later resumes for two more days over the Dec. 18-19 weekend.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife estimates the state had a preseason deer population of 750,000 whitetails.
Officials say hunting is [...]

Colts hold off Knights in fourth-quarter rally

November 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

WESTFIELD TWP.— The real Cloverleaf Colts stood up Sat­urday night. And no, they didn’t need Eminem’s help.
Twenty-four hours after a shocking 55-point loss to Fire­stone, Cloverleaf’s girls basketball team rebounded with a gutsy 61-59 win over defending North­east Ohio Conference Lake Divi­sion champion Nordonia.
“We bounce back,” Clover­leaf junior wing Shelby Dearth said. “We pretended it [...]

Larry Laird’s legend grows

November 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

CLEVELAND — Larry Laird’s great first sea­son with Medina’s football team got even bet­ter Sunday afternoon.
Laird was announced as the winner of the Cleveland Browns High School Coach of the Year award at half­time of their 24-23 win over the Carolina Panthers.
He was one of 10 finalists for the honor — all of whom were [...]

Girls basketball: Hornets fall short against Bears

November 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

GRANGER TWP. — High­land’s girls basketball team had three players score in double figures Saturday night, but fell in its season opener to North Royalton 54-50.
Led by a 17-point effort from junior guard Karissa Steffas, the Hornets (0-1) had enough firepower in their regular-sea­son debut. Junior guard Olivia Petek and sophomore forward Ann Marie Kirchner [...]

Medina man bowls perfect 900 in tournament

November 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

If there’s one thing Matt Latarski learned this weekend, it’s that far-­fetched goals can be reached.
On Sunday, the 23-year-old Medina resident bowled a perfect 900 in a league series at Roseland Lanes in Oakwood.
That’s three perfect games in a row, an achievement only 17 people had accomplished before this weekend, according to the United States [...]

Medina County Historical Society opens house for holiday tours

November 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

MEDINA— The Medina County Histori­cal Society is putting a Victorian twist on Christmas decorations.
The society’s John Smart House, 206 N. Elmwood St., is decked out in holiday attire from the mid-1800s.
From Christmas trees to antique sleigh table-toppers, the house features rooms full of historical holiday spirit.
The society is offering tours of the house’s interior to [...]

Public meetings slated for Nov. 29, 2010

November 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

Editor’s note: Public meeting notices should be e-mailed to copyed@ohio.net or faxed to (440) 329-7282.
TODAY
Cloverleaf Board of Education, 7 p.m., Westfield Upper Elementary auditorium, 9055 S. Leroy Road, Westfield Center.
Hinckley Township trustees, work session, 5 p.m., administration building, 1410 Ridge Road.
Homer Township trustees, 7 p.m., township hall, 8964 Spencer Road.
Lafayette Township trustees special meeting [...]