Visit Santa, see him SCUBA dive, see the Penguin Walk, enjoy a snow play area, and a variety of festivities during the holiday season at the Aquarium of the Pacific Aquarium Holidays Ticket Giveaway, plus coupon for Free Child Admission with Paid Adult.

Otter & Snowman

Get into the holiday spirit each weekend from December 2 through 24, 2017 at the Aquarium with a snow play area and photo opportunities with Santa in his traditional attire. Every day from December 2 to 24, Aquarium guests can also see Santa Diver giving “fishmas” gifts to the animals, watch the 10:00 a.m. Penguin Walk, take photos with Aquarium costumed characters in their holiday outfits, witness snow fall in the Great Hall, see the original cartoon Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, view a gingerbread house display, enjoy a special holiday menu at Café Scuba, and explore the gift stores for unique holiday shopping. A toy drive runs daily December 2 through 24 and supports the Long Beach Fire Department Spark of Love Toy Drive. Hanukkah storytelling with opportunities to play dreidel will also be presented weekends December 2 through 17.

 

The festivities include the annual Holiday Treats for the Animals event on the weekend of December 2-3. During this event, the sea otter exhibit will be decked out for the “sea”son with “fishmas” treats and a real snowman, and visitors can watch the otters savor candy cane-shaped lobster treats. Aquarium staff will also give special gift delicacies to penguins, sea lions, and other animals. Children can enjoy holiday crafts along with appearances by Santa Diver, photo opportunities with Santa and holiday characters, and all the Aquarium holiday festivities.

WHEN:           Aquarium Holidays: December 2-24, 2017

Holiday Treats for the Animals Festival: December 2-3, 2017

Hanukkah Storytelling and Dreidel Activity: December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, and 17, 2017

 

WHERE:         Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA  90802

 

INFO:              (562) 590-3100 or www.aquariumofpacific.org

 

COST:            Included with general admission–$29.95 adult (12+), $26.95 senior (62+), $17.95 child (3-11), and free for children under age three and Aquarium members.

 

 

With coupon receive FREE CHILD ADMISSION with paid adult admission. $17.95 savings!

Mobile-device and printable coupon valid Dec 2-24, 2017:

http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/aquarium_holidays

Here is the Aquarium Holidays web page with the full event schedule

http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/events/info/aquarium_holidays/

We have teamed up for a Family 4-pack for a day at Aquarium Holidays, December 2-24, 2017! Aquarium Holidays giveaway tickets can only be picked up by the winner between Dec 2 and 24. To enter, leave a comment below telling us your favorite thing about the Aquarium or the holidays! Deadline to enter is December 1st, 2017 at noon PST. 

Credit: The Aquarium of the Pacific. Photo Credit: Otter (real otter) & Snowman Photo by Hugh Ryono.

 

 

NEW! Sally Hansen Color Therapy Enchanting Gems Collections is a must for the holidays! Sally Hansen’s Color Therapy nail polish blends saturated color with nourishing argan oil in 6 new, elegant jewel tones.

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Stone cold stunning! Inspired by multi-faceted luxurious gemstones, the Sally Hansen Color Therapy range introduces 6 new opulent shades designed to elevate every autumn look. Sally Hansen’s Color Therapy nail polish contains a patented micro-delivery system that delivers an argan oil enhancing formula, resulting in intensive nourishment and instant moisture for healthier-looking nails. The Color Therapy nail polish needs no base coat so the oil complex can directly contact the bare nail. 9 out of 10 women experienced a noticeable improvement in their natural nails after wearing the Color Therapy nail polish. The polish glides on for a radiant, shiny finish with up to 10 days of fade-proof, chip-resistant wear. The Color Therapy nail polish provides the ultimate rich color that cares while you wear, with everything needed to help restore nails without sacrificing luminous, pigmented hues.

I just love these beautiful shades which are great for both Fall and the holidays!

  • Opulent Pearl Opt for over-the-top iridescence in a glossy white pearl hue (photo pictured above).

Other shades available:

  • Rose Diamond This dusty pink shimmery shade adds a touch of sparkle to any ensemble
  • Pink Sapphire Pamper your nails with this luxe electric pink
  • Brilliant Lapis This royal blue shimmer is a total gem
  • Orchid Amethyst You’ll be mesmerized by this dazzling orchid tone
  • Smoky Emerald Embrace evening magic with this blackened midnight teal green

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Complete your manicure with the Color Therapy top coat and nail & cuticle oil, both formulated with the same argan oil contained in the nail polish. The top coat provides an ultra-glossy finish for extended wear, and the nail & cuticle oil, the ultimate in nail therapy, instantly makes nails and cuticles look healthier, restored, and rejuvenated.

The Sally Hansen Color Therapy “Enchanting Gems” collection will be available at mass market retailers for a limited time.

Price: $8.99.

Self Disclosure: I received free samples to facilitate this post. Images were also provided.

“Play Ball” with Chrysler & Sesame Street

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s important to remember the real reason for the season – giving back! Chrysler and “Sesame Street” have always promoted the essential values of acceptance, caring and sharing, and their latest video collaboration “Play Ball” is no different. In this installment, Abby and Elmo learn about Mork’s important work as a Canine Companions® service dog, which includes helping Wallis into an upfitted Chrysler Pacifica.

Chrysler is a proud sponsor of both “Sesame Street” and Canine Companions for Independence, both organizations doing good in their own way.

Credit: Chrysler and “Sesame Street”. This is a courtesy posting, no compensation was received.

Thor: Ragnarok – Excellent Action And Style. Great Acting And Direction. Captures Details With An 80s Retro Feel

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Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against the Hulk, his former ally and fellow Avenger. Thor’s quest for survival leads him in a race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home world and the Asgardian civilization. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “The acting is top level and the wonderful direction captures every detail with an 80s retro feel. This is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for all Marvel fans.” Nathaniel B. adds, “Marvel movies… They are either works of art with great plots, or completely confusing and the plots are like earbuds in a pocket – tangled and time-wasting. This one isn’t (thankfully) the latter. It has humor around every corner…” See their full reviews below.
Thor: Ragnarok
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Thor: Ragnarok impressed me because of its excellent action and style. The acting is top level and the wonderful direction captures every detail with an 80s retro feel. This is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for all Marvel fans.
The story is about Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the God of Thunder and former Avenger, who finds himself in the toughest match of his life when he is pitted against Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, who destroys his hammer in a fierce battle. Thor escapes through a space portal, but is transported to Sakaar, a planet known for its gladiator matches hosted by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). Imprisoned, Thor is forced to fight on the gladiator ring, only to find out his opponent is the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who is unaware of their previous comradery. Meanwhile on Asgard, Hela is the new leader and executes a strict dictatorship. Despite being captured, Thor is trying to set up a team with the Hulk, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to escape and stop Hela before it is too late.


(Talent interview)

Chris Hemsworth, as Thor, excellently presents his desperation, despite being a hero of great power. His new-born comradery with the Hulk is well presented, due to their great chemistry. Cate Blanchett, as Hela, is one of the best villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, due to her nefarious behavior and interesting backstory that shines a new light on Asgard’s history. Mark Ruffalo, as the Hulk, is excellent in his Jekyll-Hyde personality between being Bruce Banner and being the Hulk. Due to this, he is my favorite character in the movie. Jeff Goldblum, as the Grandmaster, is quirky and fun like always. Tessa Thompson, as Valkyrie, provides an initially flawed companion to Thor, but stops running away from her problems and face them, when she decides to team up with Thor. Tom Hiddleston, as Loki, is as deceptive and charismatic as ever.
The direction by Taika Waititi is splendid. Every scene in the movie is filled with style and well-timed comedy. My favorite scene is when Thor activates his true potential in the final battle against Hela because it is a huge leap for the character, and it leads to one of the most epic battles in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe. My only problem with the movie is the tonal shifts the movie faces because the movie is filled with comedic scenes. However, in serious and emotional scenes, they feel rout of place.
The message of the movie is about believing in yourself. Thor is only able to last in the battle with Hela when he realizes his true potential is beyond his hammer. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 because of its intense action and suggestive references. The movie releases in theaters on November 3, 2017 so check it out.
Thor: Ragnarok
By Nathaniel B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Marvel movies… They are either works of art with great plots, or completely confusing and the plots are like earbuds in a pocket – tangled and time-wasting. This one isn’t (thankfully) the latter. It has humor around every corner which blends well into the story, making it quite enjoyable. This new, highly anticipated third film has cutting-edge CGI. Colorful new worlds are brought to life with realistic scenery and quirky new characters. It’s surprising what modern-tech can do for a movie’s quality.

Thor: Ragnarok is action-packed, like most of Marvel Studios blockbusters. The music really helps drive the already epic fight scenes to make them feel even more epic. There is also a really interesting storyline. It takes Thor into many different places and situations. I really enjoyed watching this film and am excited to see how Marvel will wrap up all the films that they have made and will make.

The jokes enhance their fair share to the story. They are witty and fun and take nothing away from the thick plot. Most are quick witted and fit in well into what is happening. Very few are cringe-inducing or make you feel disappointed in the world. Two are especially funny, one is about the battle tactic ‘get help!,’ about which you will have to discover for yourselves. The other joke is when Thor puts together a team to fight Hela (Cate Blanchett) and calls them the ‘revengers.’ An obvious nod to the Avengers.

Like many modern films, there is very realistic CGI, but this one is more artful than most in the computer generated imagery area. All things – the projectiles, spaceships, even monsters look detailed to the point of realism. The scenery is also beautiful, the real ones as well as the computer generated ones.

The fight scenes are quick and smooth and also look great with modern CGI. The camera angles, the weapons, even the grunts all enhance the the action. The music helps the action more than anything else by amplifying the epicness of the combat. The plot is interesting and flows pretty smoothly. It begins with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) who fights monsters and then gets stranded on a faraway planet where people are captured off the streets and forced to fight. He finds Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and tries to get him to help in taking down the death goddess, Hela, who is invading Asgard after breaking Mjolnir, Thor’s magic hammer. She is the reason Thor is stranded.

I like this film a lot, for its humor, CGI, plot and more. It is the best in the Thor trilogy. Some smaller things I like include the short Doctor Strange cameo and the inclusion of the “Contest of Champions.” I liked the cameo because they never really have been placed in previous films, other than the ones from ‘Marvel Man’ Stan Lee. The Contest of Champions is cool because I have heard of it before, mostly from the Marvel game, which I admit to playing a bit myself.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars, because it is very well done and I recommend it for ages 9 to 18. It does have a fair share of violence and some inappropriate language as well. This blockbuster will be in theaters November 3, 2017, so make sure to go see it!
Credit: KIDS FIRST!

Record-Breaking Animated Hit Disney•Pixar’s Finding Dory Makes a Splash as part of Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart Plus Riley and the Emotions from Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out Take the Ice for the First Time in the New Skating Production Coming to the Southland December 14, 2017 - January 7, 2018

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Follow your heart straight to adventure with Disney On Ice! Families will make unforgettable memories with Mickey, Minnie and all your Disney friends when the new ice show Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart arrives to the Greater Los Angeles Area! The ice skating extravaganza features the beloved stories & characters from the smash hit animated movies Disney•Pixar’s Finding Dory and Inside Out for the first time in a live production, with performances from December 14 through January 8, 2018 in Los Angeles (STAPLES Center), Anaheim (Honda Center), Long Beach (Long Beach Arena) and Ontario (Citizens Business Bank Arena).

 

Just keep swimming with Dory, Nemo, Marlin and new pal Hank from Disney•Pixar’s Finding Dory as they embark on a life-changing excursion to find her parents and discover the true meaning of family. Cheer with Joy, Sadness, and the rest of the Emotions from Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out as they help Riley find the confidence to win the big hockey game.

 

Venture to wintery world of Arendelle where Olaf and Kristoff help reunite royal sisters Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen and learn love is the most powerful magic of all. See Cinderella, Rapunzel, Tiana and the Disney Princesses make their dreams come true through their virtues of bravery, kindness and perseverance. And celebrate true friendship with Buzz Lightyear, Woody and the Toy Story gang.

 

L O S   A N G E L E S

 

WHEN:           Thursday, December 14 – Sunday, December 17

  • Thursday, December 14 7:30 PM
  • Friday, December 15 7:30 PM
  • Saturday, December 16 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
  • Sunday, December 17 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM

 

WHERE:            STAPLES Center – 1111 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015

 

TICKETS:         Ticket prices start at $25!

                                Discount Opening Night tickets available for as low as $15 each on select seating (not valid for premium VIP/Front Row seating) 

 

Tickets available for purchase online at AXS.com, charge by phone at 888-9AXS-TIX or in-person at the venue Box Office.             *prices subject to change; additional venue/ticketing fees may apply

 

A N A H E I M

 

WHEN:               Wednesday, December 20 – Sunday, December 24

  • Wednesday, December 20              7:00 PM
  • Thursday, December 21 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
  • Friday, December 22 11:00 AM & 7:00 PM
  • Saturday, December 23 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
  • Sunday, December 24 11:00 AM & 3:00 PM

 

WHERE:            Honda Center – 2695 E. Katella Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92806

 

TICKETS:         Ticket prices start at $25!

                                Discount Opening Night tickets available for as low as $15 each on select seating (not valid for premium VIP/Front Row seating) 

 

Tickets available for purchase online at Ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or in-person at the venue Box Office.

*prices subject to change; additional venue/ticketing fees may apply

 

L O N G   B E A C H

 

WHEN:           Wednesday, December 27 – Monday, January 1

  • Wednesday, December 27 7:00 PM
  • Thursday, December 28 7:00 PM
  • Friday, December 29 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
  • Saturday, December 30 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
  • Sunday, December 31 11:00 AM & 3:00 PM
  • Monday, January 1 1:00 PM & 5:00 PM

 

WHERE:            Long Beach Arena – 300 E. Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90802

 

TICKETS:         Ticket prices start at $25!

                                Discount Opening Night tickets available for as low as $15 each on select seating (not valid for premium VIP/Front Row seating) 

 

Tickets available for purchase online at Ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or in-person at the venue Box Office.             *prices subject to change; additional venue/ticketing fees may apply

 

O N T A R I O

 

WHEN:           Wednesday, January 3 – Sunday, January 7

  • Wednesday, January 3 7:00 PM
  • Thursday, January 4 7:00 PM
  • Friday, January 5 7:00 PM
  • Saturday, January 6 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
  • Sunday, January 7 11:30 AM & 3:30 PM

 

WHERE:            Citizens Business Bank Arena – 4000 Ontario Center Parkway, Ontario, CA 91764

 

TICKETS:         Ticket prices start at $25!

                                Discount Opening Night tickets available for as low as $15 each on select seating (not valid for premium VIP/Front Row seating) 

 

                                Tickets available for purchase online at Ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or in-person at the venue Box Office.             *prices subject to change; additional venue/ticketing fees may apply.

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To discover more about Disney On Ice, visit www.DisneyOnIce.com

or follow us on these social media platforms:

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/DisneyOnIce

Twitter: @DisneyOnIce #DisneyOnIce

YouTube: www.youtube.com/DisneyOnIce

Instagram: @DisneyOnIce

Credit: Feld Entertainment.

 

9 Simple Tricks You Can Teach Your New Puppy

Many people think that puppies are too young to start basic training.

 

But just because your puppy is walking around aimlessly without a clue in the world, that doesn’t mean you can’t get those mental juices flowing.

 

Starting puppy training early is a good investment in your new best friend. It will ensure good communication, trust and balance throughout your relationship with your puppy.

 

The following nine tricks are super simple to teach, and your puppy will pick them up quickly during its first six months.

 

Here goes!

 

Sit

The first and easiest trick to teach your puppy is sit. You can teach her to sit within five minutes, and it will take about three days for your puppy to sit at command without a treat. Simply hold a treat closed in your hands at nose level and only open your hand when she sits. Once she sits, praise her and then repeat the exercise twice more.

 

Take it & Leave it

The “take it” command is an easy one to teach, which is why I placed it second. “Take it” and “leave it” must be taught together so that your puppy can learn the distinction. Hold a treat close to your puppy’s face. When she tries to take it, gently steer her snout away from the treat with your finger while saying, “Leave it.”. You’ll have to do this about 10 to 20 times before your puppy gives up. Then say, “Take it” and allow your puppy to take the treat. Praise her for doing so well and repeat the exercise.

 

Stay

The “stay” command will take some patience, but once your puppy catches on, it’s a very rewarding experience. This should be taught incrementally. Start by making your puppy “stay” while you slowly back away a few paces. Then start backing away further and further, always giving your puppy a treat if she has successfully stayed put. If not, lead her back and start over until she’s comfortable with the distance you’re at.

 

Lie Down

Dogs with dominant personalities struggle with this one. They see it as a highly submissive move, so when you’re training your puppy to lie down, make sure you’re offering big rewards. Use hand signals to indicate that you want your puppy to lie down. You may have to help her the first few times, but once she works out what you want she’ll be working hard for those treats.

 

Roll Over

Once you’ve taught your puppy to lie down, you’ve already accomplished half of the “roll over” command. Use a circular hand gesture to indicate rolling over, and help your puppy to understand the command by rolling her over the first several times you give the command. And as always, reward with a treat for success.

 

Find it

This is a fun one and should always be included in your puppy training! You can teach your puppy to use its nose to find toys or treats. Make your puppy wait somewhere while you hide items around your garden or house. Then say, “Find it!” excitedly and watch as your puppy explores the possibilities of her nose.

 

Give Me Your Paw

Cute and easy trick to teach your puppy is, “Give me your paw”. Simply take your puppy’s paw after giving the command and praise her with a treat and some kind words when you’re holding it up. After a while she’ll do it on her own.

 

Play Dead

This was by far the hardest trick I ever taught my dog. It took three months because of his predisposition to stubbornness! But today, Diego plays dead like a pro. Start this command off with “Lie down” and then gently show your puppy what playing dead looks like. Keep rewarding with treats while she’s down.

 

 

BGCA My.Future inspires kids & teens!

Self Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Boys and Girls Club as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

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I had the opportunity to attend a really inspiring and educational event this past month! I was blown away as I watched the staff and the kids at The BGCA My.Future event. I would love to attend more of these events because it was great to see the kids and teens having so much fun! I was also really impressed to see how the staff interacted with the kids and teens.

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The Boys & Girls Club is a great place for both teens & kids. I had previously thought that it was just for younger kids but it really isn’t! It’s a great place for teens too! Kids of all ages have fun, make friends, learn teamwork and receive great care! The staff really seemed excited to be working with the kids and it was wonderful seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces! They now also get to connect and play online with a new social platform called My.Future. What is really cool is that it is safe and fun for kids and teens. The mobile-friendly social platform provides access to 125 BGCA program activities in areas such as STEM, Visual Arts, and Leadership.

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Kids & Teens (with the help of staff) learned how to create stories, make videos, write songs and more during this recent event and it was an amazing thing to see! I really enjoyed watching the kids make videos.  Kids and Teens can also connect and share with their friends socially and in a safe way. Boys & Girls Clubs of America & Comcast NBCUniversal are doing a great job preparing teens & kids for #GreatFutures. This was such an inspiration and I had a great time observing this event!

Check out the following resources:

Photo Credit: SoCal City Kids. Photos were taken with consent. 

 

Wonder – A Touching Film About Differences and Acceptance

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Based on the New York Times bestseller, Wonder tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman. Born with facial differences that, up until now, have prevented him from going to a mainstream school, Auggie becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the local fifth grade. As his family, his new classmates, and the larger community all struggle to discover their compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey will unite them all and prove you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B., comments, “This is a movie I was anticipating since I saw the first trailer. The trailer alone had me in tears, so I already knew it was going to touch my heart. Well, wouldn’t you know, my assumptions were correct.” Benjamin P. adds, “Wonder is an uplifting film that translates to the screen very well, thanks to some spot-on casting and good performances across the board.” Juanita L., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer wraps it up with, “This film has messages of limitless love and developing and building friendships as Auggie says, “If you really want to see who people are…just look.” See their full reviews and Benjamin’s interview with the author of the book and film producer below.

 

Wonder

By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

 

 

This is a movie I was anticipating since I saw the first trailer. The trailer alone had me in tears, so I already knew it was going to touch my heart. Well, wouldn’t you know, my assumptions were correct.

 

The story is about 10-year-old Auggie Pullman, a kid with facial deformities due to a gene disorder. He is starting 5th grade, middle school and struggles to fit in at a new school. Seriously, middle school is tough for everyone, so add to that being different and being home-schooled until 5th grade. It’s a minefield.

 

This movie is an adaptation of the book “Wonder” which is a popular read in middle school. No, I didn’t read the book, but now I want to, since I love this movie for multiple reasons. First, the acting is fantastic, particularly the emotional scenes, which is probably why I cried so much. This movie has some pretty good star power. Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and of course, Daveed Diggs, who stars in Hamilton, are all part of this cast. I absolutely love the characters in this film. A lot of the supporting roles actually have important parts and each character is unique and likeable as well. All except Julian’s mom, the only character that isn’t really redeemable. Still, Auggie’s parents, his sister, his friends, his teachers, and, of course, Auggie himself, Jacob Tremblay, make this movie exceptional. Not only that, the teachers and the principal at his school are so much better than teachers at actual schools. A big theme and important message, is the way parents raise their kids. I believe this is a true and good message.

 

One thing that makes this story unique is the different perspectives of other characters and their lives. Certain characters come off as mean, but you see through their life through their eyes and get a different view. Although the main focus is Auggie, characters like his sister get nice subplots that contribute to providing extra context of the character, but not drawing our attention away from the main plot. Some may complain that the entire story revolves around Auggie and I can understand those impressions. However, I think of it as a way of showing that Auggie changed many people’s lives for the better. The script is also really well done, with a good balance of funny and emotional writing.

 

I definitely give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. This movie comes out November 17, 2017 in theaters nationwide so go check it out.

 

Wonder

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

 

Interview with Author and Director

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

 

Wonder is an uplifting film that translates to the screen very well, thanks to some spot-on casting and good performances across the board.

 

Based on a popular novel by R.J Palacio, Wonder follows Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a boy with a craniofacial disorder. He lives with his parents and his older sister. His mom enrolls Auggie in the fifth grade at a nearby school after years of homeschooling. Hesitant but confident, Auggie struggles to make new friends and encounters bullies. The movie follows different perspectives of people in Auggie’s life throughout the school year. Another key plotline follows his sister Via. She loves her brother, but sometimes feels like her parents ignore her. Now her grandmother, the only person who puts her first, is gone and her best friend has abandoned her for a new group of friends from summer camp. The movie triumphantly brings these and other viewpoints together for a full, rich storytelling experience as Auggie’s personality leads people to care less about what he looks like, but the kind of person he is on the inside.

 

Seeing A-list stars such as Julia Roberts, who plays Auggie’s mom, portray characters from one of my favorite books piqued my interest for this adaptation, but I did not expect the film to be so excellent in its execution. It maintains the spirit of the novel, without feeling sappy, thanks to the direction and screenwriting from Stephen Chbosky, the author and director of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The emotion onscreen is just as raw as conveyed in the book and the scenes carry the same poignant effect. Just like with the novel, you fall in love with these characters and care about what happens to them. Jacob Tremblay is especially fantastic as Auggie and shows a compelling range of emotion. He brings confidence to the character and represents his softer sides as well.

 

The lesson of Wonder is that it shouldn’t matter what a person looks like, but who they are on the inside. Auggie is bullied for what he looks like, but people should not be judged by appearance, but rather by their character.

 

I recommend Wonder for ages 7 to 18. There are some scenes with characters in peril, as well as some scenes of bullying. Bullying is a hard topic to watch on film, but kids should be aware that it is an issue. I give Wonder 4 out of 5 stars. It is available in theaters now so be sure to check it out.

 

Wonder

By Juanita L., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
I enjoyed watching Wonder, based on the book by R.J. Palacio. It is a very uplifting story about Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a young boy with a facial difference who enters private school for the first time in fifth grade. Auggie has been home-schooled by his mother who decides it is time for him to have a real school experience. We can feel Auggie’s pain as he gets a taste of the best and the worst of human nature. He goes through 27 surgeries. Some of the students he meets are kind and accepting, others are not sure and some are just cruel. Auggie wants to do normal things and he is upset and afraid to face the kids’ reactions to his appearance.

 

One of my favorite scenes happens in the beginning when the director of his new school (Mandy Patinkin) introduces Auggie to a small group of students before school starts, thinking this will help ease the transition. I felt this was a wonderful way to help Auggie feel comfortable. You will have to see the film and decide if you think it works.

 

Auggie’s parents (Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson) along with his sister Via (Izabela Vidovic) provide unbelievable love and support to him. It is almost not real. The story and the characters show us a range of human emotions. Auggie wants to be treated like a normal kid.  Via wants her parents to give her some attention and ask about the day SHE HAD at school.  Mom has put her life on hold to care for Auggie and now sees a chance to complete her dissertation. Auggie’s father tries to be a supportive, understanding and caring father. This film has messages of limitless love and  developing and building friendships AS Auggie says, “If you really want to see who people are…just look.”

 

The visuals and music are excellent and bring an element of fun. The elements of bullying and some of the emotion around Auggie’s beloved dog might be intense for younger children. I recommend Wonder for ages 9 to 18 as well as adults. Be inspired and experience Wonder at your local theater when it opens November 17, 2017.

 

Credit: KIDS FIRST!