Archives for 2018

Sesame Place Becomes the First Theme Park in the World to be Designated as a Certified Autism Center

Sesame Place®, the nation’s only theme park based entirely on the award-winning show Sesame Street®, in conjunction with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), today announced the completion of a staff-wide autism sensitivity and awareness training at the theme park.  The completiondesignates Sesame Place as a Certified Autism Center (CAC) as distinguished by IBCCES, — the first theme park in the world to receive such a distinction. The certification aligns with National Autism Awareness Month and comes as the park readies for its 38th season, opening on April 28, 2018.

For almost 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in autism training for licensed healthcare professionals and educators around the globe. IBCCES recognized that many families with children who have special needs have limited travel options, and in response, created training and certification programs specifically for the hospitality and travel industry.

As a Certified Autism Center, Sesame Place is required to provide ongoing training to ensure that team members have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament, and expertise to interact with all families and children with special needs, specifically on the autism spectrum. Training takes place in the areas of sensory awareness, environment, communication, motor and social skills, program development, and emotional awareness as well as a comprehensive autism competency exam.  The autism training must be taken every two years in order to maintain the certification.

“As the first theme park in the world to complete the training and become a CAC, Sesame Place is better equipped to offer families inclusive activities for children with autism and other special needs,” explained Sesame Place park president Cathy Valeriano.  Robust pre-visit planning resources will be added to the park’s website including a sensory guide, developed by IBCCES.  This sensory guide will make it easier for parents to plan activities that satisfy their child’s specific needs and accommodations by providing insight on how a child with sensory processing issues may be affected by each sense for each attraction.  The park will also have two quiet rooms located on Sesame Island.  These rooms will have adjustable lighting, and a comfortable seating area for guests to take a break.

Sesame Place’s certification aligns with Sesame Workshop’s commitment to increasing awareness and understanding of autism.  Sesame Workshop launched the Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children initiative in 2015 and Julia, a Sesame Street Muppet with autism, came to life on the award-winning broadcast last spring, signaling a strong, continuing commitment to the autism community.  Julia made her debut at Sesame Place in 2017 as a walkaround character and is available for guest meet & greets. The park is developing in-park programs that will be implemented this season giving guests additional opportunities to interact with Julia.

“Since her debut, Sesame Street’s Julia has touched the lives of millions of children and families around the world and we’re proud that partners like Sesame Place are committed to providing autism-friendly experiences,” said Scott Chambers, Senior Vice President and General Manager, North America Media and Licensing, Sesame Workshop.  “We applaud them for earning this distinction.”

“IBCCES works with leading travel destinations to create safe, sensory-compatible travel options for parents and individuals on the spectrum. Our Certified Autism Center designation is awarded to premier organizations around the globe that have completed rigorous training and meet the highest industry standards,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman. “Sesame Place is ideal because of its accessibility to families and convenient location, as well as everything the organization has done to be inclusive for all. The CAC certification helps give parents and other guests on the spectrum peace of mind when visiting a new destination or attraction.”

“Sesame Place is honored to be leading the theme park industry through our commitment to making our facility friendly for families with children on the spectrum,” added Valeriano.  “We’re dedicated to providing all of our guests with an exceptional and memorable experience.  We look forward to applying this training and expanding our commitment to help spread awareness about autism.”

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About IBCCES

The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) was established in 2001 to meet the training and credentialing needs of professionals who work with individuals with special needs. IBCCES has since expanded into over 40 different countries with training centers in the United States and Singapore and members all across the globe. Our Certified Autism Specialist, Board Certified Cognitive Specialist and Certified Autism Center credentials were established with the highest standards in the industry. As a result, our programs have become the benchmark for those who work with cognitive disorders around the globe. In addition, IBCCES created and hosts the annual International Symposium on Cognitive Research & Disorders.  This global event brings together top neurologists, education leaders and healthcare experts with a focus on research, innovation and collaboration. For information about training and certification, visit ibcces.org

 

About Sesame Place®

Sesame Place®, the only theme park in the U.S. based entirely on the award-winning show, Sesame Street®, is ideal for families and kids of all ages.   Conveniently located just 30 minutes from Philadelphia and 90 minutes from New York City, the park has over 25 attractions, three live shows, a daily parade and of course, everyone’s favorite furry friends.  NEW IN SPRING 2018: the biggest, most exciting roller coaster ever – Oscar’s Wacky Taxi™! The new wooden-steel hybrid roller coaster will take thrill seekers of all sizes on a crazy, curvy taxi cab ride, with everyone’s favorite grouch at the helm.  Before little kids become big kids, go before they grow® to the nation’s only theme park based entirely on Sesame Street®.  For more information, visit www.sesameplace.com.or call 1-215-752-ELMO.

PBS KIDS Announces Adaptive Apparel Collection Available Exclusively at Zappos

      

PBS KIDS and Zappos Adaptive are introducing a line of gender-neutral two-way reversible adaptive apparel with kid-friendly designs that promote independence for all children. Manufactured by 4WARD Clothing, the PBS KIDS Adaptive Apparel Collection will soon be available exclusively at Zappos.com.

The PBS KIDS Adaptive Apparel Collection includes t-shirts and lounge pants designed to meet unique sensory needs. Each item includes dissolvable tags, has no buttons and is made with soft, machine washable poly-cotton blend fabric. The entire clothing line can be worn either forward or backward, making it versatile for kids.

“PBS KIDS is committed to diversity and inclusion, helping children of all abilities learn and grow,” said Dawn Ciccone, Vice President of Brand Licensing, PBS KIDS. “This collaboration with Zappos Adaptive is one more way we’re honoring that commitment. The PBS KIDS Adaptive Apparel Collection is purpose-driven to help empower children, encourage independence and promote creative expression.”

Additionally, in support of Autism Awareness Month, PBS KIDS will air and stream episodes of ARTHUR, DINOSAUR TRAIN and SESAME STREET featuring characters with autism on pbskids.org and the PBS KIDS Video app. Related digital games can be found on pbskids.org, hands-on activities on PBS Parents, and educational resources on PBS LearningMedia.

As the exclusive home of 4Ward Clothing, Zappos Adaptive promotes inclusion by providing functional and fashionable clothing and shoes to help make getting dressed easier. 4Ward Clothing represents the important underlying concept of providing a garment that fosters independence and inclusion for those who need it most so they can move forward in life.

“We’re so excited to collaborate with PBS KIDS and 4ward Clothing on this collection because it brings something fresh and fun to our assortment of super soft, reversible clothing. Zappos Adaptive is focused on curating a wide selection of products that make our customers’ lives easier, and this definitely helps us fulfill that purpose,” said Derek Flores, Senior Buyer at Zappos.com.

With fun and bright colors using PBS KIDS-branded graphics, the PBS KIDS Adaptive Apparel Collection includes four design themes: dinosaurs, rainforests, oceans and air travel. Offered in child sizes 18m-6x, the clothing line is available at an affordable price, ranging from $26-$32 SRP. One hundred percent of the net proceeds PBS receives from purchases of the PBS KIDS Adaptive Apparel Collection will support PBS KIDS’ mission to empower children to succeed in school and in life.

The PBS KIDS Adaptive Apparel Collection will soon be available at http://www.zappos.com/e/adaptive-pbskids

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About PBS KIDS
PBS KIDS, the number one educational media brand for kids, offers children ages 2-8 the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television, digital media and community-based programs. PBS KIDS and local stations across the country support the entire ecosystem in which children learn, including their teachers, parents and community. Provided by stations, the free PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and live stream is available to nearly 95% of U.S. TV households. Kidscreen- and Webby Award-winning pbskids.org provides engaging interactive content, including digital games and streaming video.

PBS KIDS offers mobile apps to help support young children’s learning, including the PBS KIDS Video app, which is available on a variety of mobile devices and on platforms such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Chromecast. PBS KIDS also offers parent and teacher resources to support children’s learning anytime and anywhere. For more information on PBS KIDS content and initiatives supporting school readiness and more, visit pbs.org/pressroom, or follow PBS KIDS on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

 

About Zappos.com
Established in 1999, Zappos.com has quickly become the leading destination in online apparel and footwear sales by striving to provide shoppers with the best possible service and selection. Zappos currently showcases millions of products from over 1,000 clothing and shoe brands. Zappos is also proud to be rated ELITE by STELLAService and was named a J.D. Power 2011 Customer Service Champion, one of only 40 companies so named in the U.S. More information about the customer service philosophy, unique culture and job openings can be found at www.zappos.com/about/press-kit. More information about Zappos Insights and its business membership program can be found at zapposinsights.com. Zappos.com, Inc. is a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc.

Books of the Month of April 2018!

Here are my favorites for this month!

This one has such cute little dishcloths so if you can crochet, this one is a must-buy!

Dishcloths to Crochet: Fun Designs to Brighten Your Kitchen!

Crocheters of all skill levels will delight in these playful patterns for crocheted dishcloths — they’re as fun to make as they are to use! Animals, flowers, and fruits are among the themes of the 25 patterns, which include Sweet Strawberry, Perky Pig, Dandy Daffodil, and other designs.
Full-color photos accompany the easy-to-follow instructions. The directions also show how to convert any of the dishcloths into a potholder with the simple addition of a ring. Great to stitch during warm-weather months, the dishcloths make cheerful displays, and the textured stitches are ideal for efficient dishwashing. They’re great gifts, too!
Price: $14.95.
If you follow social media at all, you are bound to know who Grumpy Cat is and if you are a fan…then you will want this one!

Grumpy Cat’s Miserable Papercraft Book

Have some papercraft fun with Grumpy! Grumpy Cat hates just about everything, including papercrafts. Nevertheless, this book displays the furrowed-browed feline on several cut-out crafts that include bookmarks, door-knob hangers, masks, gift boxes, signs, paper chains, snowflakes, finger puppets, stand-up figures, origami of Grumpy’s face, a mobile, a paper fortune teller, and other items.

Price: $14.95.

If you have kids and are trying to figure out some fun things for them to do away from their screens.this next one is a must-read! I love all the different creative ideas in this book! 

Screen-Free Fun: 400 Activities for the Whole Family by Shannon Philpott-Sanders.

More about the Author:

Shannon Philpott-Sanders has written extensively about the joys of parenting for local and national newspapers and magazines throughout her fifteen-year career as a freelance journalist. A mother of two, she has dedicated herself to becoming a lifelong learner when it comes to parenting her son and daughter who are now in their late teens.

A graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Philpott-Sanders holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in English. When she is not writing and offering tips for fun-filled experiences with children, she serves as an associate professor of English at St. Louis Community College – Meramec and advises the student-run newspaper.

The next one is known as The Book That’s Changing Millennial Parenting!

“THE BIRTHDAY RULES”

Written by an ivy league psychiatrist and a successful start up founder, The Birthday Rules  applies proven business and  human resources strategies to the world of parenting and offers a structure to help with one of the most important tasks parents have—creating a safe environment to communicate and demonstrate unconditional love.

“A child’s birthday is an excellent opportunity to have important conversations,”  says author Rachel Marsh, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University.

The Birthday Rules provides a fun and flexible framework of an annual review process combined with a structure for increasing permissions, responsibilities and conversations.

I found this one interesting and highly recommend!

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

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Jeff Wald is a serial entrepreneur having directly raised three companies, and, as an investor and advisor, helped raise about 100 more. Jeff is the proud uncle to three nephews and three nieces. In addition, Jeff is a renowned speaker and startups and growing companies. He has a BS and MS from Cornell University and an MBA from Harvard.

Dr. Rachel Marsh PhD is an associate professor of Medical Psychology in the Division of Child Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. She is the mother of three: Milo, Lyla, and Ruby. Dr. Marsh speaks worldwide and has published papers on brain function and development.

These next two books are really fun for kids and adults that love to be creative!

     

Fanciful Sealife Coloring Book

This imaginative collection of 31 wondrous designs features a variety of stylized ocean creatures with highly detailed and decorative backgrounds. Images include schools of exotic fish, a sunken ship and treasure chest, a seashell castle, and such underwater dwellers as jellyfish, an octopus, sea turtles, striped angelfish, whales, and more. Pages are perforated and printed on one side only for easy removal and display. Specially designed for experienced colorists, Fanciful Sea Life and other Creative Haven® adult coloring books offer an escape to a world of inspiration and artistic fulfillment. Each title is also an effective and fun-filled way to relax and reduce stress.

Price: $5.99.

Stone Painting for Kids

This follow-up to the bestselling Art of Stone Painting offers a kid-friendly version of an engaging activity that helps promote creativity. Popular stone artist F. Sehnaz Bac, a seasoned archaeologist who markets her painted Sassi dell’Adriatico (Stones of the Adriatic) on Etsy, presents step-by-step instructions for simple projects, accompanied by full-color photographs. Her introduction explains how to find and choose stones, which kinds of materials and tools are safe for kids to use, how to set up a workspace, simple techniques, and other helpful tips.
A splendid variety of patterns begins with illustrations of basic shapes and designs for human figures and faces, animals, numbers and letters, and natural motifs—flowers, trees, and stars. Other activities include painting stones for games such as tic-tac-toe, chess, and dominoes. Kids will learn lettering techniques for writing names and words on pebbles and how to design holiday-themed decorations. They’ll also discover how to assemble multiple stones for picture-making and story-telling.

Price: $19.93.

This next one is a delightful story that I recommend for all young children! It is simply a magical story!

It’s late in the fall when Oyster Jack and his boat Dinah sail out to the Chesapeake Bay to harvest oysters. Their friend Wind helps them by blowing against Dinah‘s sails. But Wind is cold and Oyster Jack won’t share his coat or blanket. When Wind hears of a nearby coat of frost and then a blanket of snow, she rushes off to look for them. Oyster Jack and Dinah can’t sail without her. He must find a way to keep Wind warm—and with him. Readers of all ages will be delighted by the clever wordplay and imaginative solution in this feel-good story about the importance of looking out for your friends. Ages 0-6.

Marcia G. Moore has studied the effects of wind upon sail and sailors for more than forty-five years. She and her husband explore the coves and rivers of Maryland’s Eastern Shore in Little Bird, a replica of a Chesapeake Bay skipjack. Her boating stories have been published in Sail magazine and The New York Times.
Heather Crow, winner of numerous awards including the prestigious national Robert Rauschenburg Power of Art Award for Maryland, spent her career as a public school art teacher. She and her husband live on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where she enjoys illustrating stories her big family can read together over and over.

About the Publisher:

Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. is a family-owned, independent publisher of high-quality books. Since 1974, Schiffer has published thousands of titles on the diverse subjects that fuel our readers’ passions. Visit www.schifferbooks.com to explore our backlist of more than 5,800 titles. To receive regular announcements about new releases from Schiffer Publishing, sign up for our e-newsletter.

This next one is really cute and fun for young kids!

Paint by Sticker Kids: Beautiful Bugs just was released this month and it’s a must-buy!

Many view bugs as terrifying little creepy crawlers, but thanks to movies such as A Bug’s LifeAntz, and the Bee Movie, these flying and scurrying insects have been given a cute and adorable appeal for children!

The newest addition to the Paint by Sticker series, PAINT BY STICKER KIDS: BEAUTIFUL BUGS ($9.95; April 3, 2018) features a diverse selection of itsy bitsy critters including colorful butterflies, a glowing firefly, marching ants and more!

With a combined 1.2 million copies in print the Paint by Sticker series has become an amazing success which is sure to grow as children all over being sticking together the images of these enchanting and charming bugs.

The perforated pages make it easy for each picture to be torn out and proudly displayed on the refrigerators and office desks of proud parents everywhere!

And, last but not least..I love these fun and educational books!

   

ABOUT BIGFOOT VISITS THE BIG CITIES OF THE WORLD

Sharpen your search and find skills by locating BigFoot at his favorite metropolis. It won’t be easy! BigFoot is visiting ten major cosmopolitan destinations, from the Big Apple and London to Paris, Athens, Tokyo, Toronto, and more.

This handsome hardcover book presents each urban oasis as an immense two-page visual puzzle, full of teeming people and creatures. Your task is not only to find BigFoot and his legendary footprint, but also more than 500 other unusual and sometimes unexpected personalities and objects. Fun facts and pictures accompany each scene to help you learn more about the world’s most popular cities.

ABOUT BIGFOOT GOES ON VACATION

BigFoot is enjoying his holiday in ten different ways, from deep sea diving and joining a balloon festival to taking a cruise, going to the beach, visiting Yellowstone National Park, and more. This handsome hardcover book presents each getaway as an immense two-page visual puzzle, full of teeming people and creatures.

I gave these two books to a young family friend for Easter and he just loves them! These are perfect for ages 5 and up.

HAPPY FOX BOOKS are for children and all of those who enjoy beautifully illustrated books.

ABOUT D.L.Miller: As with Bigfoot, D.L. Miller is a bit on the reclusive side, rarely seen in public, spending most of his days sketching from his studio located amongst the mighty oak trees only found in the deep dark woodlands far off the beaten path. After spending decades learning the habits of the elusive bipedal humanoid, he has finally agreed to share his illustrative journals that capture the sightings of this larger-than-life creature that has mystified generations.

Connect with Fox Chapel Publishing on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook and learn more about the fun, educational, and friendly BigFoot at ifoundbigfoot.com.

BigFoot Visits the Big Cities of the World and BigFoot Goes on Vacation are now available for purchase in hardcover via Amazon and wherever fine books are sold.

Self Disclosure: I received copies of the above books to facilitate this post and feature the books in my featured book posts. I only feature books that I highly recommend. Images and Information were also provided. 

 

The Shops at Montebello To Host Prom Preview Showcasing Outstanding Local Students on April 21 Center-hosted shopping spree helps Montebello Unified School District students get ready for prom

With prom around the corner, The Shops at Montebello took 22 outstanding high school girls from the Montebello Unified School District on a prom shopping spree this month, giving them an opportunity to shop the glitz and glam of the latest prom fashions, which they will show off at a Prom Preview runway show at the center on April 21.

 

“It’s a way to recognize outstanding students in our community,“ said Marida Petitjean, Director of Marketing and Business Development at The Shops at Montebello. “We’re a part of the Montebello community, and we like to show our support and give back in any way we can. It’s an experience we hope they’re going to tell their own kids about one day.”

 

With a budget of $150 each, provided by The Shops at Montebello, junior and senior girls from five local high schools were able to shop for their dream dress and matching glitzy accessories and shoes from retailers at the center.

 

Outstanding, top performing students were selected by their school counselors to participate in the shopping spree, and included Schurr High School, Bell Gardens High School, Montebello High School, Applied Technology Center and Vail High School. In addition to girl time, the outing served to start a conversation about college and future plans.

 

Following the shopping spree, the students will unveil their final prom looks in a Prom Preview fashion show on Saturday, April 21, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Center Court. The girls, accompanied by two male models, will strut the runway and present the latest in prom trends, including bright colors, sparkles, maxi-length dresses, short frocks and classic formal pieces. The preview serves to showcase style inspiration in advance of prom night, an adolescent major milestone.

 

For those interested in attending the fashion show, reserved seating will be available with a $10 donation to Simon Youth Foundation. Ticket holders will also receive a swag bag filled with a $10 retailer gift card.  To add to the fun, Alex Gervais, radio personality at KIIS FM 102.7, will act as emcee for the event. 

 

For ongoing updates and upcoming event information, follow The Shops at Montebello on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

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About The Shops at Montebello

The Shops at Montebello is a modern indoor super regional shopping center featuring four department stores and more than 160 shops, eateries, and restaurants—remaining the leader for shopping in the San Gabriel Valley. The Shops at Montebello is home to Macy’s, Macy’s Home, JCPenney, Forever 21, Coach, G by Guess, H&M, Cotton On, Fashion Nova and more, with dining options such as BJ’s Restaurant and Brewery, Hikari Sushi, Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que and Olive Garden. The Shops at Montebello serves communities in San Gabriel Valley and East Los Angeles including Montebello, Monterey Park, and Rosemead. With its modernized look and feel, The Shops at Montebello strives to provide the best shopping experience with its retailer and dining selections for the entire family.

 

About Simon

Simon is a global leader in retail real estate ownership, management and development and a S&P100 company (Simon Property Group, NYSE:SPG). Our industry-leading retail properties and investments across North America, Europe and Asia provide shopping experiences for millions of consumers every day and generate billions in annual retail sales. For more information, visit simon.com.

Blumhouse’s Truth Or Dare – Jump-Scares, Second Guessing – Fun To Watch With Friends

Olivia, Lucas and a group of their college friends travel to Mexico for one last getaway before graduation. While there, a stranger convinces one of the students to play a seemingly harmless game of truth or dare with the others. Once the game starts, it awakens something evil — a demon which forces the friends to share dark secrets and confront their deepest fears. The rules are simple but wicked — tell the truth or die, do the dare or die, and if you stop playing, you die. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Imani B.G. comments, “I am a huge fan of horror and thriller films and was so excited to see the amazing acting and suspense behind this work. This film offers jump-scares, second guessing and is loads of fun to watch with friends.” Arjun N. adds, “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare is a somewhat disappointing thriller with lots of initial potential… Fans of thrillers and horror movies may want to check it out but proceed with caution.” See their full reviews below.

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare

By Imani B. G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Truth or Dare is a new thriller that has the audience questioning their real abilities and intentions behind the fun-filled game. I am a huge fan of horror and thriller films and was so excited to see the amazing acting and suspense behind this work. This film offers jump-scares, second-guessing and is loads of fun to watch with friends.

Olivia (Lucy Hale) and a couple of her college friends take a trip to Mexico for a final getaway before graduation. Little did they know it would turn into something more. While there, they meet a stranger who convinces Olivia to play a harmless, fun game of “truth or dare” with the others. The game starts and so does chaos which follows the group back to their hometown, releasing all their deepest and darkest secrets. The rules are quite simple, but fearful: tell the truth or die; do the dare, or die. No one gets out alive if you don’t play by the rules. Or do they?

Growing up, my friends and I always played the game “truth or dare” at sleepovers. This movie made me question what secrets are we all hide in this game? If the consequences were real, such as they are in this film, how would we react? My favorite part of this film is how I was able to somewhat relate to the characters. They are all teens, as am I. So, it really had me feeling as if I was in their shoes and made me question what I have done in order to survive. I adore the cast, because each one has something to offer to the character they play.

The message in this film is about being honest with your friends and family and to trust one another in any circumstance. Olivia and her friends are torn apart towards the beginning of the film, due to their belief about whether or not the game was real. Once their eyes are opened, they work together in hopes of beating the game and surviving.

I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars. It has a great storyline, cast and cinematography. I it for ages 13 to 18. I recommend seeing it with a group of friends to really get the full effect. Also, it would be more fun! It opens nationwide in theaters on April 13, 2018 so, be sure to check it out. Think about this film the next time you play “truth or dare” with your friends!

Blumhouse’s Truth Or Dare

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare is a somewhat disappointing thriller with lots of initial potential. However, the acting and direction allow for some fun thrills. Fans of thrillers and horror movies may want to check it out but proceed with caution.

The story follows teenage friends Olivia (Lucy Hale), Lucas (Tyler Posey), Markie (Violett Beane), Penelope (Sophia Ali), Tyson (Nolan Gerard Funk), Ronnie (Sam Lernie) and Brad (Hayden Szeto) on a trip to Mexico. Along the way, they encounter Carter (Landon Liboiron), an amicable person with a dark secret, playing a game of “truth or dare”. This quickly takes a turn for the worst, once the game summons a curse among the friends. Upon returning home, the curse sequesters the friends, forcing them to play a deadly game of “truth or dare” – one which will result in death if lost. Realizing they are all being forced to play the same game, the friends try to find a way to remove the curse.

Lucy Hale, as Olivia, delivers a commanding performance as the main lead, willing to go to any lengths to stop the curse. She excels in presenting her unstable relationship with her best friend Markie. Tyler Posey, as Lucas, is extremely determined to save his friends using logic to outthink the curse. Violett Beane, as Markie, is excellent with what she is given, but her character could have been more aptly written. She denigrates a repetitive plot point used to propel her inconclusive relationship with Olivia. Sophia Ali, as Penelope, wonderfully presents her character’s nonchalant attitude to circumstances, until it’s her turn to play the game. Nolan Gerard Funk, as Tyson, prominently portrays a smart yet misguided teen. Sam Lernie, as Ronnie, is the most careless of the group. Hayden Szeto, as Brad, is my favorite character due to his clever comic relief. Landon Liboiron, as Carter, mysteriously presents his character’s involvement in the story.

Jeff Wadlow directs the movie with some fun thrills, but also many that are predictable. My favorite scene is Olivia’s first dare for Markie to break her hand. It is well-acted with a visceral intensity. The flaws in the movie are in its inconsistent writing, which completely steal all the potential we see initially. Most of the characters end up in situations that are unintentionally funny. The characters are written to be hate-able and bipolar for the sake of the movie’s plot. The conclusion ends up feeling rushed and used as bait for a sequel.

The message of this film is to always be careful of strangers and unknown places. I give this film 2.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 because of the horror, sexual references and language. The movie releases in theaters on April 13, 2018, so check it out.

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

 

Acclaimed Bay Area Songwriter Sara Lovell Releases ‘Wild Is Everywhere’ on April 20 Giveaway Opportunity!

Award-winning songwriter Sara Lovell celebrates the release of her fanciful new album “Wild Is Everywhere” with this all-ages acoustic show. Furry alligator puppies, pickleberry wormnut pies,  run-away socks, rhinos under the bed, and flying children are just a few of the wonders you’ll encounter in Sara Lovell’s fanciful worlds. With two full-length albums of songs for kids and families, it’s apparent that Sara is not so much singing to children as she is reporting back with love from a magical landscape she inhabits.
Her music is fun and guaranteed to inspire your children and dancing, smiling and singing along is guaranteed!~SoCal City Kids. 

Sara Lovell, an award-winning songwriter and producer known for “imaginative lyrics, sparkling harmonies, intriguing musical layers” and “a voice rich in both purity and nuanced detail,” will release her second all-ages music album Wild Is Everywhere, on April 20 (Unbreakable Chord Music/ distributed by Burnside Distribution). With a wide range of topics and musical styles, these 14 original songs journey through a landscape populated with flying children, misplaced animals of a certain size, and insects or flowers that turn up in the most unexpected places.

From the Sgt. Pepper’s inspired first track, “Get Up,” where listeners are invited to “grab onto the tail of someone’s kite,” the excitement and mystery builds and expands song by song. Wordplay and a vivid fantasy life are apparent with the funky “Rhinoceros under the Bed” and “Raspberry Pickleberry Wormnut Pie.” Blues, disco and funk inflect “Bounce,” “Stand Together” and “Where You Hiding All Day Long?” Every child will recognize the unfairness when “All the Grownups Get To Stay Up Late” and the impatience of “I Want It Now,” showing that Lovell understands the big feelings that live in all of us.

At a time when it can be a challenge to find good news, Lovell reminds us in the songs of Wild Is Everywhere, that joy and imagination are no small offerings. “When we allow curiosity to take hold, it widens our perceptions letting us envision the world we want to see.” As she says in the playfully creepy song, “The Dark Side of My Room,” it’s important to acknowledge: “Oh, I know, I can be a hero in my dreams / Oh, I know, I will see the light in every scene.”

Sara Lovell’s first album for families, You’ve Got Me, won a 2016 Parents’ Choice Gold Award and national critical acclaim. Songs like “Dance Like There’s Music in Your Pants” remain YouTube and radio hits. In fact, her animated and live-action music videos have attracted fans from around the world. Belarus artist Anna Silivonchik, created the colorful album art for You’ve Got Me and Wild Is Everywhere.

A songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer with a clear, strong voice and a wide-ranging musical repertoire, Sara Lovell is also a solo mom to an imaginative eight year old who loves to paint his face and dance in front of the mirror. In her home studio in Berkeley, CA, Sara continues to follow the lead of the myriad characters that show up in her songs and stories. She collaborates with producer/arranger Monica Pasqual and guitarist/engineer B.Z. Lewis to create her kid-friendly recordings. Lovell plans to release new music videos and perform concerts for children and their families this spring. Visit www.saralovell.com for updates.

Connect with Sara Lovell on Facebook * Instagram * YouTube

Sara’s site: www.saralovell.com
Sara also has an upcoming show and we have teamed up for a giveaway! One winner will win a CD and a family 4-pack of tickets to the show! To enter, leave a comment below but hurry! The deadline is April 27th, 2017 at noon PST. One winner will randomly be selected. 
Show info:
Sara Lovell’s “Wild Is Everywhere” concert at McCabe’s Guitar Shop
Sunday, May 6 at 10:30 am
Self Disclosure: I received a free CD to facilitate this post. Information and images were also provided. 
COVER ART BY  ANNA SILIVONCHIK

PHOTOS BY ANDREA SCHER

CD PACKAGE AND PROMO MATERIALS DESIGNED BY ALICIA BUELOW

 

Rampage – What it lacks in complexity, it makes up for in pure spectacle and fun!

Global icon Dwayne Johnson headlines the action adventure “Rampage,” directed by Brad Peyton. Johnson stars as primatologist Davis Okoye, a man who keeps people at a distance but shares an unshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent, incredibly rare albino silverback gorilla who has been in his care since he rescued the young orphan from poachers. But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry mutates this gentle ape into a raging creature of enormous size. To make matters worse, it’s soon discovered there are other similarly altered animals. As these newly created alpha predators tear across North America, destroying everything in their path, Okoye teams with discredited geneticist Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) to secure an antidote, fighting his way through an ever-changing battlefield, not only to halt a global catastrophe but to save the fearsome creature that was once his friend. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “What Rampage lacks in complexity and story, it makes up for through pure spectacle and fun.” See his full review below.

Rampage

By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Rampage is a healthy dose of CGI mayhem, anchored by the star power of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. What Rampage lacks in complexity and story, it makes up for through pure spectacle and fun.

Rampage is loosely based on the classic arcade game of the same name and follows Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson), a primatologist (basically a monkey scientist) who takes care of a gorilla named George. Davis and George share a close bond with one another. When a sample of a mysterious substance lands in his enclosure, George inhales it. The good-natured gorilla turns into a building-sized behemoth. The same thing happens to a few other animals, making the threat even larger. With the help of a scientist with a tortured past and a sarcastic, Southern-accented government operative, Davis seeks out George to protect him from harm, while still trying to end the wrath of these animals.

My favorite part of this film is the extended high-action showdown. This part reminds me of what made the game so fun: seeing these behemoths battle on an expansive urban playground where skyscrapers are like jungle gyms. We get to see the monsters battle each other and all the plot threads unfurl into monster madness. The supporting characters get some memorable character moments and Davis Okoye comes into his own as an action hero.

Dwayne Johnson spews charisma with every line. So this, mixed with his great comedic timing, make him a good choice to play an action hero, which is exactly what he does here. Johnson makes lines that would normally sound poorly written and cheesy, quotable and cool. Johnson also brings to the screen Davis’s bond with George well, considering one half of the pair is entirely CGI. Johnson also delivers certain lines that manage to poke fun at Rampage’s insane concept.

I recommend this film for ages 13 to 18 due to suggestive content, language and violence. Rampage is more violent than average blockbuster and, there are a few scenes that I had a hard time watching. If you are a fan of the arcade game, be sure to look out for some Easter eggs that tie the film back to its source material.

I give Rampage 3.5 out of 5 stars. While not a cinematic masterpiece, if you’re looking for a big-budget battle of large creatures with entertainment to spare, this film is for you. Rampage opens in theaters April 13, 2018. Be on the lookout for it.

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

 

 

Don’t Miss Out: The Habit Burger Grill CharClub Members Get Rewarded With Sneak Peek of New Mission Viejo Restaurant -Pre-Opening Events Include Fundraisers Supporting Capistrano Valley and Mission Viejo High Schools and Open Medicine Foundation-

 Burger fans shouldn’t fear missing out on special events at the New Habit Burger Grill opening in Mission Viejo, located at 27748 Crown Valley Parkway. It’s easy to be in the know – join The Habit’s CharClub! Members of The Habit Burger’s CharClub will be treated to exclusive food specials before the restaurant opens on April 25.

Local CharClub members will receive an exclusive invitation to enjoy a pre-opening event before the store’s grand opening, including:

  • Free Burger Day: The first 200 guests in line will receive a free award-winning Charburger, fries and a drink.

To join the CharClub, guests can visit http://www.habitburger.com/missionviejo to sign up and receive an invitation. The more than 2,500-square-foot Habit restaurant seats 64 people, plus additional patio seating for 32 guests. The restaurant will be open every day, 10:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

As part of The Habit Burger Grill’s commitment to the community, all are welcome to join in three fundraising events before the grand opening.  At each event, 100% of the proceeds raised will be donated back to the cause or organization.

  • Sunday, April 22, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. – Capistrano Valley High School
  • Sunday, April 22, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. – Mission Viejo High School
  • Tuesday, April 24, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. – Open Medicine Foundation

Supporting the Open Medicine Foundation is an important step in improving care for the more than 2.5 million patients who suffer from debilitating complex diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome. The Open Medicine Foundation funds vital research to find treatments to help people live fuller lives as they battle through pain and other unbearable symptoms.

High school clubs and organizations encourage student participation in community building and social activities at high schools, and the funds raised for Capistrano Valley and Mission Viejo High Schools will be used for a variety of upcoming campus functions.

Better burgers are just the beginning at The Habit where the menu also includes hand-cut salads, grilled sandwiches including line-caught, sushi grade ahi tuna, fresh chicken, and hand-filleted marinated grilled tri-tip, and sides including onion rings, sweet potato and French fries, and tempura green beans. Guests can choose from a variety of peppers, lemons, limes, and sauces at a complimentary condiment bar to customize the flavor of their meal.

The Habit is known for its award-winning Charburger which features 100% fresh, never frozen ground beef grilled over an open flame and topped with melted cheese, caramelized onions, pickles, fresh tomato, crisp lettuce, and mayo served on a toasted bun. Their restaurants have been serving the Best Tasting Burger in America exactly this way since the first Habit opened in 1969.

Connect with The Habit on social media at facebook.com/habitburgerinstagram.com/habitburgergrilltwitter.com/habitburger  and youtube.com/habittube.

 Credit: The Habit Burger Grill.

About The Habit Restaurants, Inc. 

The Habit Burger Grill is a burger-centric, fast casual restaurant concept that specializes in preparing fresh, made-to-order chargrilled burgers and sandwiches featuring USDA choice tri-tip steak, grilled chicken and sushi-grade tuna cooked over an open flame. In addition, it features fresh made-to-order salads and an appealing selection of sides, shakes and malts. The Habit was named the “best tasting burger in America” in July 2014 in a comprehensive survey conducted by one of America’s leading consumer magazines. The first Habit opened in Santa Barbara, California in 1969. The Habit has since grown to over 220 restaurants in 11 states throughout California, Arizona, Utah, New Jersey, Florida, Idaho, Virginia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Washington and Maryland as well as three international locations. More information is available at www.habitburger.com.