Diary of A Wimpy Kid’s Latest Installment Is Fun, Upbeat and Unpredictable

Wimpykid.poster

A Heffley family road trip to attend Meemaw’s 90th birthday party goes hilariously off course thanks to Greg’s newest scheme to get to a video gaming convention. This family cross-country adventure turns into an experience the Heffleys will never forget. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Alejandra G. comments, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul has the same wonderful entertaining impact as the rest of the series.” Ella L. adds, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul is an upbeat, fun and humorous movie based on the books by the same name. It has an entertaining script with interesting relationships between characters. This movie also has moments where I burst out laughing.” Maria G. wraps it up with, “I really enjoyed the personality of each character in this film. Their different charisma contributes greatly to tone the film.” See their full reviews below.

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

By Alejandra Garcia, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

 

(Spanish)

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul has the same wonderful entertaining impact as the rest of the series. For those who don’t know, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a fiction comedy novel for children and teenagers written and illustrated by Jeff Kinney. Over the years, these books have been brought to life in films that have the same well-liked effect on the audience as the original books. I was and still am a huge fan of the Wimpy Kid series and I recall always being excited for the new book or the new film to come out.

 

This film follows the Heffley’s taking a road trip to attend Meemaw’s (their grandmother’s) 90th birthday party. But of course, this trip goes off course thanks to Greg’s newest strategy to get to a video gaming convention. They flee from their parents, drive themselves to the convention, violate the no technology rule and many events take place that will make this not-so-family trip unforgettably crazy. Their family adventure turns into an experience filled with different funny moments you don’t get in a normal family vacation.

 

My favorite scene of is when they are entering the grandmother’s house. Greg gets into a boat that is outside and he goes inside the house with it. Somehow, he slides into the house and makes it to the pool, thereby making a special entrance. This is a very funny scene because it shows how Greg’s delirious mind operates.

 

The message that I get from this film is to never give up on what you want and don’t let anyone stop you. The film teaches this message in a funny and comical way. Gregory sees himself in a position that he doesn’t like due to something he does wrong so, he does what he can to clear his image. His way of doing it is to go to the video gaming convention and become famous. This is how Greg thinks he can fix this, by doing all these crazy things. But that’s not the important part. The point is that he goes out of his way to achieve his goal and he never stops until he gets it. I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 15. This opens in theaters on May 19th, 2017 so go check it out.

 

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
By Ella Ladd, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul is an upbeat, fun and humorous movie based on the books by the same name. It has an entertaining script with interesting relationships between characters. This movie also has moments where I burst out laughing. However, although it is delightful, this film falls flat in many areas.

 

The film follows twelve-year-old Greg Heffley (Jason Drucker), his brothers Rodrick (Charlie Wright) and Manny (Dylan Walters) and their parents (Tom Everett Scott and Alicia Silverstone). The family takes a road trip to attend Meemaw’s 90th birthday in Indiana. However, Greg has plans to go to a video game convention that land him (and his family) in some hot water.

 

This film has many positive qualities. One i the clever writing. I really like the scene where Rodrick gets “shot,” when Greg and Beardo remake the scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Also, the scene where Manny and the pig are reunited is absolutely adorable. I applaud the writers for their brilliant writing. Another positive quality that quite impressed me is the story line. The chain of events had me on the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen next. Mischief and misfortune seems to follow the Heffley family wherever they go! It is clear that the writing and the physical humor in this film are quite outstanding.

 

However, although the script is quite good, the direction is not. The shots don’t feel quite right all the time. For example, throughout the movie, the camera is often focused on Alicia Silverstone’s teeth. The scene transition is also choppy and disorganized. It just is not smooth. I feel as though there could be more music underneath the dialogue. The acting falls flat as well. I am quite disappointed by these aspects.

 

I rate this film 3 out of 5 stars. The excessive potty humor throughout the film may appeal to younger kids, so I recommend it for ages 7 to 13. This film is funny and entertaining, yet it lacks several essential components. It opens in theatres on May 19, so if you’re looking for some family-friendly fun, go check it out.

 

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

By Maria Guerrero, KIDS FIRS! Film Critic, age 17

 

This family friendly film will have you laughing as you join the Heffley’s in their first summer road trip. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul  is a fun entertaining film that I highly enjoyed with its funny scenes, unique character personalities and the different adventures the Heffley’s take on.

 

As the Heffley’s embark on their summer road trip to rural Indiana for their grandmother’s 90th birthday, young and witty Greg Heffley (Jason Drucker) will do whatever it takes to get to a video game convention and meet his favorite gamer. To everyone’s surprise, technology will be restricted on the trip since Greg’s mother, Susan (Alicia Silverstone) wishes to grow closer to her son and create unforgettable memories. Throughout the trip the whole Heffley family faces numerous adventures and trials as the trip goes hilariously off course and becomes a mission.

 

I really enjoyed the personality of each character in this film. Their different charisma contributes greatly to tone the film. My favorite character is Rodrick, the older but not so wise brother. His humor, style and spirit brings laughter to the screen. Although he is not the brightest, he is highly funny. One of my favorite scenes is when Rodrick orders an Uber and believes that the ride is free, although the destination is an hour away and it’s charged to his parents’ credit card. Also hysterical is the scene where Rodrick eats one too many fried butter sticks and regrets it later when riding the roller coasters.

 

Young and witty Greg Heffley is played by Jason Drucker of Barely Lethal, Every Witch Way and many commercials. Lead rock singer of Loaded Diper and Greg’s sixteen-year-old brother Rodrick is played by Charlie Wright, known for Ingrid Goes West and Better Things. Alicia Silverstone and Tom Everett Scott play the parents of Greg and Rodrick .

 

Although this film is hilariously funny, it is filled with several life lessons for the viewer to learn from such as, disconnect from technology and connect with those around you. Today, everyone seems to be so attached to technology and social media that they loose the concept of socializing. This film grasps the importance of family values and disconnecting from technology to spend quality family time.

 

I highly enjoyed watching this fun, summer movie and recommend it to families and children between the ages of 5 and 10. This is a great film for kids to watch over summer break and remember the value of family. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars because of its many funny scenes, unique story line and unique characters. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul opens in theaters May 29, 2017 so, be sure to check it out.

 

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

 

 

Books of the Week

unnamed

I Love Sharks, Too!
by Leanne Shirtliffe
Illustrated by Lorenzo Montatore
Shark fans of all ages will want to take a bite out of this funny and informative story! The book is filled with tons of fun facts and information about different shark breeds. This one is a really fun book! Great for ages 5-9.
unnamed (1)
Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. would like to announce the release of Mr. President and The First Lady: The DC Eagle Cam Project by Dr. Teena Ruark Gorrow and Craig A. Koppie. Mr. President and The First Lady provides a detailed chronology of the American Bald Eagle nesting season from their mating to the fledging of their young, and grants a rare glimpse of eaglet antics from the American Eagle Foundation’s DC Eagle Cam Project in the nation’s capital.
I found this book very interesting and even my 13-year-old son enjoyed reading this one! I highly recommend for ages 8-14.
About the Authors
In cooperation with the American Eagle Foundation, Teena Ruark Gorrow and Craig A. Koppie present the celebrated story of the bald eagle family featured on the dceaglecam.org. Gorrow, a professor of teacher education at Salisbury University with more than thirty years of experience as a Maryland educator, lives with her husband on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Koppie, a raptor biologist for over three decades with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay Field Office, makes his home near Annapolis with his family. Through their collaboration, Gorrow and Koppie hope to inspire in others an appreciation for wildlife and promote environmental stewardship. Their other Schiffer titles include the 2014 Green Earth Book Award winner Inside a Bald Eagle’s Nest and the recently released Inside an Osprey’s Nest.
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. From our traditional subjects of antiques and collectibles, arts and crafts, and military history, Schiffer has expanded its catalog to publish books on contemporary art and artists; architecture and design; food and entertaining; the metaphysical, paranormal and folklore; and pop and fringe culture, as well as books for children. Visit www.schifferbooks.com to explore our backlist of more than 5,800 titles.

9780374301156_FC

A fun book in the Tractor Mac picture book series, TRACTOR MAC WORTH THE WAIT, by Billy Steers (FSG, on sale 05/09/2017)!
In this cheerful new story, the pigs, Pete and Paul, learn the importance of patience when they try (unsuccessfully) to speed along the growth of Farmer Bill’s prized watermelons. This one is a fun story that young children will love!
About the author: Billy Steers is an author, illustrator, and pilot! In addition to the Tractor Mac series, he has worked on forty other children’s books.
cover
This one is great for parents!
Doctor offers guidebook for working with children with autism.

For many parents and caregivers of young children with autism, one of the first questions, after diagnosis is, “What kind of future can I expect for my child?” Parents were often given little hope that their child could succeed in school, make friends and live a happy, meaningful life.

But, this doesn’t have to be the case for many children.

In “Autism: The Potential Within: The PLAY Project Approach to Helping Young Children with Autism,” Richard Solomon, M.D., offers a guidebook that can help parents discover the therapeutic power of play, when working with young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

“Through intensive, early intervention, many children can gain the language and social skills to become highly functional in society,” Dr. Solomon said, “if their families and the professionals know how to help them.”

Dr. Solomon is a board-certified developmental and behavioral pediatrician, with over 25 years of experience as a clinician and researcher in the field of autism. As the founder and medical director of The PLAY Project, an autism intervention program, Dr. Solomon has helped thousands of families develop joyful relationships with their young children with autism.

“In this book I’m giving practical, professional advice, based on years of proven success,” Dr. Solomon said. “But I’m giving it with the highest possible personal standard: what I would do for my child, if he or she had autism.”

For more information, visit:http://www.playproject.org/autism-the-potential-within/.

unnamed (2)

Improve your coloring skills with these simple, step-by-step instructions for techniques using colored pencils. Intended for beginning artists and coloring book enthusiasts, this guide is ideal for those without formal training but with some experience of coloring with pencils. A wealth of suggestions and exercises will show you how to take your skills to the next level.

Discover how to create volume with such shading techniques as crosshatching, long and short strokes, and color gradation. Learn how to form unique textures that add detail to images. Practice blending techniques and layering one color at a time to control values and colors effectively. Full-color photographs throughout the book illustrate each method as well as lessons in color theory. Eight practice pages from Dover’s bestselling Creative Haven® series of coloring books provide the opportunity to test your new techniques.

Price: $19.95

You can find it here.

unnamed (1)

About Sketching: The Art and Practice of Capturing the Moment by Jasper Salwey

Written as a sketching artist’s companion, this guide by a noted author of art instruction manuals attests to the value of sketching as a distinct art form rather than merely a vehicle to achieve more polished works. Artist and author Jasper Salwey details advantages of many drawing media, from pencil to watercolor, and their application to depictions of interior studies, figures, landscapes, seascapes, and architecture.
Suitable for artists and students of moderate to advanced skills, the book makes a case for why the artist needs to sketch and the importance of sketching to the history of art. Salwey’s advice and insights are illustrated by relevant examples that range from works by the Old Masters to those of his great contemporaries, including Frank Brangwyn, Dame Laura Knight, and John Singer Sargent.

Price: $12.95

unnamed (2)

A vivid new paper doll collection pays tribute to the legendary star-crossed lovers
Shakespeare enthusiasts, paper doll collectors, and romantics will prize this charming homage to the Bard’s famous sweethearts. Four dolls depict ardent Romeo, lovely Juliet, sympathetic Friar Laurence, and Juliet’s jolly Nurse. Their wardrobe, consisting of 24 colorful and authentic Renaissance costumes plus accessories, is accompanied by quotations from the immortal play. In addition, the book’s inside covers offer the perfect background: a rose-covered balcony.
Price: $11.99

IMG_5251

HUG IT OUT is a delightful picture book that encourages its readers to do just that, hug your squabbles out! Whether a crazy uncle starts spouting nonsense, or your cooped up kids squabble with each other, this is a cure for any age: just Hug It Out! I love this one! It is a wonderful book for young children!

Self Disclosure: I received free copies of the above books to facilitate this post.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – More Thrilling and Hilarious Than its Predecessor

guardiansgalaxy.2

Set to the backdrop of ‘Awesome Mixtape #2,’ Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Clayton P. comments, “Set to “Awesome Mixtape #2”, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. #2  is more thrilling and hilarious than its predecessor.” See his full review below.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

By Clayton Pickard, KidsFirst! Critic, age 17

 

 

Set to “Awesome Mixtape #2”, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. #2  is more thrilling and hilarious than its predecessor. It is an action packed, sci-fi adventure about a group of intergalactic criminals who are tasked to work together to save the universe. Chris Pratt again stars as Peter Quill, aka Star Lord. The rest of the cast follows suit – Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot and Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket.

 

The film starts out with the classic 70s song “Brandi” by Looking Glass as we see two young people driving down the highway, very much in love. We later learn that this is the back story of Peter’s conception and is foreshadowing the main storyline of the film. The movie jumps 34 years and Peter is now Star Lord, captain of a band of reformed outlaws. The group is hired to guard the uber batteries of the Sovereign planet. Upon leaving, Rocket steals some of the batteries and a space battle ensues. Star Lord and his crew are shot down and make an emergency landing on a nearby planet. Before landing,  they notice a mysterious spaceship, which takes out the entire Sovereign fleet pursuing them. The rest of the film is an emotional, action-packed adventure, having to do with this mysterious personage. There are lots of battles between different factions in this crazy sci-fi, fantasy universe.

 

The movie has lots of lively and entertaining scenes. My favorite is when Rocket Raccoon uses traps to his advantage to defeat an incoming horde of ravagers. Every scene with Drax is terrific because he has a different philosophy of life and has the most infectious laugh of any character in any movie, ever. I also love how Peter is obsessed with 80s pop culture.  He references them all the time, but his companions never understand them, because they didn’t grow up on Earth. I especially love how 80s music is used to evoke nostalgia from Peter’s childhood, making for a terrific oldies soundtrack.

 

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is phenomenal and full of whimsical jokes that don’t get old. It is a perfect family adventure that is suitable for ages 10 to 18. Parents and grandparents will even get a kick out of it. I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars for its engaging humor and captivating action. It opens in theaters on May 5 so, be sure to check it out.

 

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

 

Joanie Leeds – “Brooklyn Baby!” – New Album Grows in Brooklyn May 19 Release

JLeeds_BrooklynBaby_Cover_web

Six years ago, award-winning singer/songwriter Joanie Leeds packed her bags and moved from Manhattan’s Upper West Side to the vibrant, artistic neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Here she found not only a place to start a family, but also a magnificent melting pot metropolis that offered dazzling adventures on a daily basis.  Inspired by her love for all things Brooklyn, Joanie will release her eighth family album, Brooklyn Baby!, on May 19.

Produced by Jesse Lauter (Tedeschi Trucks Band, Elvis Perkins, Carl Broemel from My Morning Jacket), Brooklyn Baby! is a real genre-bender, containing elements of folk, Southern rock, hip hop, pop and punk presided over by a singer whose sheer command of vocal artistry is second to none.

Songs about the park system (“Ferry Nice”), public transportation (“Subway”) and Brooklyn’s most famous dish (“Pizza”) are a given, but the heart of the album embraces both a Brooklyn mentality and sentimentality with love (“Love is Love”), thirst for education (“Library Book”), healthy eating (“Apples in My Apples”), and Yiddish expressions (“Shayne Punim”). The album closes with Joanie’s take on Brooklyn-born Lou Reed’s gentle tune, “Sunday Morning.”

Gifted with a soulful, “rock solid” voice that ranges from low and bluesy to high, light, and breezy, Joanie Leeds is an exceptionally versatile artist who brings serious musicianship to the table right alongside a terrific sense of fun and fashion.  Says SiriusXM’s Kids Place Livehost Mindy Thomas, “Joanie Leeds is that cool babysitter who would let you try on her lip gloss once your mom left the house.  You idolized her, and your mom knew she could trust her.  That’s Joanie.  Only she’s also likely to completely ROCK THE ROOF OFF YOUR HOUSE!”

Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights have performed in dozens of cities nationwide at such prominent venues as The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, The Smithsonian, the CMAs, the Hang Out Festival, Symphony Space, Wolf Trap, and LA’s Skirball Center.

Joanie Leeds’ original kids’ music won first place in the USA Songwriting Competition, as well as winning an Independent Music Award, Parents’ Choice® Gold Award, NAPPA Gold Award, and Family Choice Award, and Joanie was a finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and the International Songwriting Competition.  Joanie’s music has been highly praised in People magazine, Parents Magazine, The New York Times and The Washington Post.  Her tunes are played on many radio stations nationwide and have climbed the chart to #1 on SiriusXM’s Kids Place Live and WXPN’s Kids Corner. Joanie is also a PJ Library musician!

Prior to Brooklyn Baby!, Joanie Leeds released seven critically acclaimed, full-length albums and two full-length DVDS, in addition to numerous videos on her Youtube channel.  She is currently at work on more music videos, while maintaining a busy teaching and performance schedule.

Brooklyn Baby! will be available online at www.joanieleeds.com, Amazon, iTunes, CDBaby, TuneCore, and other related digital outlets.

I recommend this one for ages 4-8! I like all the different elements of music found in this one! Look for it on May 19th!

 

Self Disclosure: I received a free CD to facilitate this post. Photos and Info were provided

Windy City Kindie from Chicago’s Mr. Dave!

Feeling_Good_Cover_MrDave_web_res

Praised as a “celebrity to kiddos in Chicago and for good reason,” Mr. Dave (a.k.a. Dave Hamilton) is poised to take his place on the national kindie music scene with the June 9 release of his fourth kids’/family album, Feeling Good.

Inspired by such artists as Kendrick Lamar, Paul Simon, the Beach Boys, Frank Ocean, and Dan Zanes, and produced by Grammy-nominated Jamie Candiloro (Ryan Adams, REM, Luscious Jackson, Willie Nelson), Feeling Good is a lyrical mix of upbeat, fresh, and funky tunes that are easy on adult ears and guaranteed to get the little ones movin’ and groovin’. Mr. Dave’s distinctive takes on vocal color, clarity, and balance at the mixing board, highly focused energy, and musical authenticity shine throughout each track.

The roots of Feeling Good’s irrepressible charm grow deep in the soil of Dave Hamilton’s career as lead vocalist/guitarist with the acoustic funk band 56 Hope Road.  For six years, beginning in 1998, they toured the country hitting home runs on the jam band scene, were named #1 Road Warrior Band by renowned online musical resource, JamBase.com, and gained national attention for their energetic live performances and relentless tour schedule that included hundreds of solo shows, as well as opening for such artists as Stevie Wonder, Dave Matthews Band, Page McConnell of Phish, Tom Cochrane and Red Ryder, Devon Allman, Spyro Gyra, Verve Pipe, Bob Schneider, and more.

Imbued with themes of love, learning, positivity, and activity, Feeling Good revs up the fun-o-meter with “Bamboo the Bear,” a Paul Simon-esque number that’s especially easy for kids to sing along with. Inspired by Kendrick Lamar, “Street Smarts” has lots of good information about urban safety, all delivered with an unbeatable beat. “Pelican Kid,” with its focus on diversity and acceptance, is packed with personality to the max, mixing rap and melodic elements. Influenced by the Beach Boys, “Two Wheels,” a 21st century surfer song, rides the waves of universal appeal, and the album’s title track, with a tip-of-the-hat to Dan Zanes, is an exuberant dance tune that sports a jolly, country sound.

During production of his 2014 kids’ album, Come On In, Dave Hamilton came to fully understand that he was meant to be writing and performing for kids.  This life-changing realization spurred a career change, motivating him to become a full-time kids’ musician and teacher. The metamorphosis from Dave Hamilton to Mr. Dave has been hailed by parents as “pure magic,” with his classes and shows being declared, “absolute must-do activities for the entire family.”

In 2016, Dave and his wife, Christina, opened their own children’s music studio, Mr. Dave Music, in Chicago, with the goal of bringing the joy of music into the lives of children, families and adults by providing culturally responsive instruction and creating a warm and authentic educational experience.   Mr. Dave Music is committed to innovative programming that fosters creativity and celebrates diversity through the power of music.

I received a copy of this CD and I really recommend this one! It has a different sound and it’s just simply fun music for young kids!~SoCal City Kids.

Previously released Mr. Dave albums include Come On In (2014), It’s Mr. Dave (2009), and Mr. Dave (2000).

Feeling Good  is available at CDBaby.com, iTunes, and the Mr. Dave Music Store, 1935 W. Division St., Chicago, IL  60622.

Self Disclosure: I received a free copy of the CD to post. 

Dino Dan: Dino Go Seek – Interesting Facts About Dinosaurs And Augmented Reality Technology

DinoGoSeek

Join junior dinosaur expert, Trek Henderson as he imagines dinosaurs in the real world! During an indoor game of hide and seek with his friends and Grandma, Trek discovers that Microraptors use their natural abilities to hide with the best of them! Enjoy playing dino go seek and more dino game-filled adventures with Trek and friends! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Carla P. comments, “I like the look of the animation, it looks very realistic according to what dinosaurs would have looked like.” Rohan F. adds, “I loved the variety of styles in this DVD so I give it 4 out of 5 stars. I also find it quite informational, so I recommend It for kids who love dinosaurs from ages 3 to 10.” See their full reviews below.

Dino Dan: Dino Go Seek
By Carla Paz, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

I like this DVD because it teaches kids about dinosaurs. I like the look of the animation, it looks very realistic according to what dinosaurs would have looked like.

Dino Dan is about a boy named Trek who is fascinated with all things about dinosaurs. He teaches his friends facts related to dinosaurs.  In the story the dinosaurs help Trek with daily activities such as school and fun things like playing with his friends.  I also like how they help Trek on his adventures while Trek teaches us about dinosaurs.

For the animation of the dinosaurs it uses augmented reality technology, so it looks like real dinosaurs that actually existed.  In some occasions, the combination of animation and augmented reality looks a bit fake, but it’s not a big deal.

The actors are great, especially Trek (Trek Buccino). He looks and talks like he’s fascinated with the dinosaurs. I also like his grandma in the first episode. She is great at relating to the kids.

My favorite episode is the one where Trek talks about going to a science school with his friend and his friend’s dad. They talk about robots and how they are made. Trek teaches us about how dinosaurs are protective of their offspring. Trek takes us to a go-cart course where he talks about how fast certain dinosaurs are. The friends race the dinosaurs and learn a lesson about the tortoise and the hare.

I like learning about dinosaurs. They are a very important part of our history. The show tells us about a lot of dinosaurs that I didn’t know about before and presents interesting facts about the dinosaurs too.

I rate this show 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend this DVD to ages 3 to 8. This DVD is available now so, go check it out.

Dino Dan: Dino Go Seek
By Rohan Foxe, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

 

Dino Dan: Dino go Seek is a very educational DVD for young kids. It contains lots of interesting facts about dinosaurs. Unfortunately, there are lots of plot holes that left me wondering what was going on. I enjoyed the concepts of each episode, but found myself getting somewhat bored. Also, in the five episodes, the same dinosaurs are featured in four of them which I found very repetitive. They don’t really change the facts up, so basically three episodes tell the same thing in different ways.

This DVD is a compilation of five episodes that aired on Nick Jr. including Dino Go Seek, Train of Dino’s, Robots & Dino’s, Dino Clash and Dino Racing. In Dino Go Seek, Trek learns about dinosaurs during a game of hide and seek. In Train of Dino’s, Trek incorporates dinosaurs into his friend Penelope‘s train set. In Robots & Dino’s, Trek helps protect a Dromaeosaurs egg using his friend Bobby’s robots. Dino Racing is about Trek and his friends having imaginary races between humans and dinosaurs. Finally, Dino Clash Is about Trek and Bobby playing a game and learning about dinosaurs and teamwork.

I really enjoyed how they used CGI dinosaurs over video footage. I couldn’t tell if his friends knew he could see dinosaurs or not because in some episodes they talk about it to him and in others they are wishing there were dinosaurs.  My favorite episode is Train of Dino’s because, it not only uses the usual CGI over video, it also uses stop motion animation in the form of the train set people moving. This is very creative and I love the variety.

The main character Trek is played by Trek Buccino.  Jordyn Nergri plays Hannah. Katherine Forrester plays Penelope. Bobby is played by Colin Petierre. His brilliant facial expressions are one of my favorite things. Each episode has its own moral. The clearest message ii in Dino Clash. It is about teamwork because, in the end they have to work together to get to the finish line.

I loved the variety of styles in this DVD so I give it 4 out of 5 stars. I also find it quite informational, so I recommend It for kids who love dinosaurs from ages 3 to 10. I also think parents will probably enjoy watching this with their younger children. It’s available on DVD now, so go check it out.

 

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

 

 

Beautifully Shot Documentary With Fun Narration, Excellent Cinematography And An Inspiring Story

unnamed (3)

 

Narrated by John Krasinski, Disneynature’s new True Life Adventure film Born In China takes an epic journey into the wilds of China where few people have ever ventured. Following the stories of three animal families, the film transports audiences to some of the most extreme environments on Earth to witness some of the most intimate moments ever captured in a nature film. A doting panda bear mother guides her growing baby as she begins to explore and seek independence. A two-year-old golden snub-nosed monkey who feels displaced by his new baby sister joins up with a group of free-spirited outcasts. And a mother snow leopard-an elusive animal rarely caught on camera-faces the very real drama of raising her two cubs in one of the harshest and most unforgiving environments on the planet. Featuring stunning, never-before-seen imagery, the film navigates China’s vast terrain-from the frigid mountains. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “I love the visual splendor of this film and I am still in awe from some of the shots of the vast Chinese landscape.” Morgan B. adds, “Adorable, cuddly, fierce, cunning and hilarious animals all have one thing in common – they all put a tingle in my heart!” See their full reviews below.

 

Born in China

By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

 

Born in China is a beautifully shot documentary with fun narration, excellent cinematography and an inspiring story. I love the visual splendor of this film and I am still in awe from some of the shots of the vast Chinese landscape.

 

Narrated by John Krasinski (NBC’s The Office, Amazon’s Jack Ryan), Born in China chronicles the lives of three animals: Ya Ya, a giant panda who lives surrounded by bamboo and peace with her growing cub, the mischievous monkey Tao Tao who yearns for attention after the birth of his baby sister and later joins a group of outcasts, and the snow leopard Dawa struggling to protect her cubs from predators in harsh conditions. The film also follows the journey of a herd of chiru as they migrate to give birth to their young.

 

Born in China is one of the rare films that perfectly captures the magic and excitement of nature on screen. Not only does it have footage of some of the cutest animals on earth, but you really get to know some of the animals and their personalities. Also it has great shots of the stunning landscape of China that you’re not going to find in any other movie.

 

John Krasinski is very versatile in his role as narrator. He knows his young audience well and adds some fun dialogue to make it more appealing to them. His narration also goes very well with what is going on onscreen and is key in helping you understand the animals. One flaw is that the subplot with the chiru feels unneeded. Unlike other storylines, there is no main character to gravitate toward or follow. It feels like extra baggage that overcrowds the movie.

 

One of the best parts is that it demonstrates the animals showcasing basic values we see in society today. The lesson I took away is that the importance of family outweighs everything else, no matter what situation you’re in. Tao Tao goes to roam with The Lost Boys because he can’t find attention at home but later he learns that those who care for you will be there when you need them.

 

I recommend this film for ages 4 to 18. It’s pretty much suited for all ages, but some animal violence makes it an unsuitable for very young children. It also will be very much enjoyed by adults. I give Born in China 3.5 out of 5 stars.  It arrives in theaters just in time for Earth Day, April 22, 2017. Don’t forget to stay for the credits for a series of bloopers and outtakes.

 

Born In China

By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

 

Adorable, cuddly, fierce, cunning and hilarious animals all have one thing in common – they all put a tingle in my heart! Director Lu Chuan put so much care into making this superb film. It is apparent how much he loves what he is doing and that adds to the charm of this film. I love how the movie made me feel when I watched it.

 

The red-winged crane carries us on a journey to different parts of China. Inspired by nature and adorable fun creatures that live there, we learn the Snow Leopard’s story told through Dwoa. Dwoa is a courageous and cunning Snow Leopard with two adorable baby cubs she is trying to protect. Finding food on the highest plateau on earth proves to be difficult. As much as I wanted to cuddle and pet her, I do not think she is the hugging type.

 

The adorable Giant Pandas’ story is told through Mei Mei and her mother Ya Ya, the stars of the show when it comes to humor. Mei Mei wants her independence and has big dreams and even bigger hopes of learning to climb trees. Her mom Ya Ya wants to do everything she can to keep her safe and keep her close forever. This is a thing that every child struggles with, including me. Fun fact: Giant Pandas eat more than 40 pounds of bamboo a day. That’s a lot of bamboo so, note to self, if you want a pet Panda you need to have a lot of money to buy bamboo plants.

The golden snub-nose monkeys’ story is told by my favorite character, Tao Tao who is only two years old. He is mischievous and feels like an outcast so, like Peter Pan, he joins a group of lost boys. Winter along the Yangtze River is harsh and we watch him shiver, covered with snow and ice. It made me want to grab a warm blanket to cover him.

 

There are many more animals that are incorporated in this 80 minute documentary that follows them for a year of their life, from spring to spring. I especially enjoyed the chiru which are a type of antelope. The red pandas are excellent tree climbers and perfect role models for all baby pandas who try to climb trees after watching them. John Krasinski (The Office) narrates this adorable documentary. His voice style and humor perfectly fit the film.

 

The circle of life is once again Disney’s of this nature documentary. I do not like movies that make me cry but Disney did it once again. I love this movie, especially the eye candy scenes of Mother Nature and her animals. The cinematography is stupendous as it captures close-ups of animals who are rarely seen in their natural habitats. You see every single hair and get to watch them forage for food, play, give birth and protect each other. The aerial views are stupendous and unique. I wondered what it would be like to be one of these animals. Is it fascinating seeing the things that they have to face every day of their lives.

 

I recommend this for ages 5 to 18. It is marvelous, but there are some moments that made me cry.  Animals need to eat and, when watching them hunt to eat, there are scenes that might freak out some kids. It is very informational, humorous and heartwarming. It reminded me that there is a big wide world out there ready to be explored. I give this film 5 out of 5 Mother Nature stars.  This film opens nationwide in theaters on April 21, 2017 just in time to celebrate Earth Day. Brought to you by Disneynature, when part of the box office proceeds will be donated to the World Wildlife Foundation to help giant pandas, snow leopards and many more animals.

 

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

 

 

TOUCH THE EARTH by Julian Lennon with Bart Davis Illustrated by Smiljana Coh

unnamed (3)

From internationally known singer, songwriter, and environmental activist Julian Lennon—along with New York Times bestselling author Bart Davis and beloved Croatian illustrator Smiljana Coh—comes TOUCH THE EARTH, an inspiring and lyrical story about how children can change the world and make it a better place.

In this debut picture book, readers will jump aboard the White Feather Flier, a magical plane that can go wherever you want, just point it up in the air, or down into the water. The White Feather Flier’s mission is to take children to places all over the world, engage them in helping to save the environment, and teach them how to keep it clean for future generations.

A passion project that comes from the heart, this stunningly illustrated book is inspired by the white feather he was given by his father when he was young. TOUCH THE EARTH is the first in a planned trilogy of similarly-themed picture books, and each will be released one year apart on Earth Day. A thrilling interactive experience à la Press Here, readers will participate in the action by pushing buttons within the book to help “fly the plane.”

Lennon has written an original poem to accompany the release of this legacy book, and all proceeds will be donated to the White Feather Foundation.

I received a copy of this delightful book and highly recommend! It’s the perfect book for young children in this day and time! It is inspiring and a magical story about making the world a better place.

About the Authors and Illustrator

Julian Lennon (author) is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, photographer, documentarian, and philanthropist. Born in Liverpool, England, Lennon is an observer of life in all its forms developing his personal expression through his artistic endeavors. In 2007, Lennon founded the global environmental and humanitarian organization The White Feather Foundation whose key initiatives are education, health, conservation, and the protection of indigenous culture.

unnamed

Twitter: @JulianLennon

Website:  http://www.julianlennon.com/

Instagram: @julespicturepalace
Facebook: Julian Lennon Official

Bart Davis (author) is an international bestselling author of novels and nonfiction books. His most recent is Black and White—The Way I See It, the biography of Richard Williams, father of tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams. He has also written two feature films and a wide range of print articles. Davis lives in New York City.

unnamed (1)

Smiljana Coh (illustrator) is an artist who studied film animation and combines traditional and digital illustration techniques in her work. She has illustrated the picture books I Want to Be a Ballerina and wrote and illustrated The Seven Princesses. She lives in Croatia and can be found online at cohillustration.com.

unnamed (1)

You can purchase at  Amazon, B&N, and Indiebound.

Self Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book from Sky Pony Press to facilitate this post.