THE KID’S AWESOME ACTIVITY BOOK: Games! Puzzles! Mazes! And More!

The Kid’s Awesome Activity Book is a parent’s best friend, guaranteed to entertain your backseat travelers during those endless summer road trips. Readers can create their own comic strips, write a hit song for the hedgehog hoedown, decode pirate word scrambles, and help a little leprechaun find his pot of gold. All they need is a pencil and their imagination!

I really recommend this one for Summer reading fun! This one is a great book to have in the house when you hear those words…”I’m bored…..”

Brimming with bats, hungry unicorns, alien dance parties, monster finger puppets, and SO much more, THE KID’S AWESOME ACTIVITY BOOK: GAMES! PUZZLES! MAZES! AND MORE! (June 12, 2018; Workman; $14.95; By Mike Lowery) is perfect fuel for endless hours of creativity on and off the page. Created by Mike Lowery, the mastermind behind the wildly successful KID’S AWESOME ACTIVITY CALENDAR and DOODLE ADVENTURES® series, THE KID’S AWESOME ACTIVITY BOOK is the boredom-buster guaranteed to infuse those endless summer road trips with imaginative landscapes filled with monster hair salons, circus acts, enchanted forests, and more. With just a pencil and their imagination, readers can decode pirate word scrambles, create their own comic strips, write a hit song for the hedgehog hoedown, and help a little leprechaun find his pot of gold. With more than 400 stickers drawn in Lowery’s iconic style and a pullout poster just waiting to be colored, THE KID’S AWESOME ACTIVITY BOOK offers takeaway items that burgeoning artists can use to decorate their space outside the confines of the book. Featuring nearly 100 wacky prompts, games, and crafts, there’s only one cardinal rule that young artists have to follow: Have fun!

About the Author:

Mike Lowery is the creator of The Kid’s Awesome Activity Calendar and the Doodle Adventures® series. His latest book, Random Illustrated Facts, collects weird bits of news and knowledge. Mike draws in his sketchbooks and posts on Instagram daily at @mikelowerystudio. He lives with his wife and children in Atlanta, Georgia.

THE KID’S AWESOME ACTIVITY BOOK By Mike Lowery $14.95 | June 12, 2018 | 122 pages | Ages 8-12| ISBN 9780761187189

Self Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book to feature. I only feature books that I highly recommend! Images were also provided. 

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – The Best Documentary I’ve Ever Seen! I Still Hear Its Catchy Theme Song In My Head.

Filmmaker Morgan Neville examines the life and legacy of Fred Rogers, the beloved host of the popular children’s TV show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dariana A. comments, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is the best documentary I’ve ever seen! I still hear its catchy theme song in my head.” See her full review below.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

By Dariana A., KIDS FIRST Film Critics, age 12

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is the best documentary I’ve ever seen! I still hear its catchy theme song in my head. I usually don’t like documentaries because they are very slow paced. But this one has jokes throughout that makes it so much more interesting to watch. I not only learned a lot about Fred Rogers’ life and career, but also about how television shows were made and produced back in the 1960s.

This documentary is about Mr. Rogers and his television show for young children “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Produced by  Academy Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville, we learn about Mr. Rogers’ ideas on how important it is to talk to children about every aspect of life and how television can be used as a positive influence. During his show, Mr. Rogers sings songs about specific topics so that kids, as young as pre-school age, can understand the topic of the day.

The film shows scenes from the actual show as well as behind the scenes. I really enjoyed the interviews with the crew from the show. Those parts made me belly laugh. The film brings back the original lessons of the show and re-promotes them. For adults, this film might make them remember watching the show as a child and they might find some episodes to share with their own kids. For children, this film might spark an interest in the show and make them want to watch it, just like I did. The film gives everybody something. One thing I love about the film is that it really goes in depth about Mr. Rogers’ sunny disposition and how he truly was like that in real life, even through all his struggles. It shows us that there are still kind people in the world. My favorite scene is when Mr. Rogers goes to Congress to try to get the funding to save PBS. That scene shows who Mr. Rogers really is, his personality and love for children. By the time he finishes his speech, I was tearing up and could hear the audience sniffing.

The message of this film is to love yourself as you are, just like Mr. Rogers says in his song. I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18 because it talks about topics such as divorce and war, in a serious way, which is not appropriate for very young children. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars because of its amazing message and all the cool inside facts about Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. This film opens nationwide June 8, 2018 so check it out. Reviewed by Dariana A., KIDS FIRST Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

 

Ocean’s 8 – Best Comedic Action Movie Ever!

Danny Ocean’s estranged sister Debbie attempts to pull off the heist of the century at New York City’s star-studded annual Met Gala. Her first stop is to assemble the perfect all-female crew: Lou, Rose, Daphne Kluger, Nine Ball, Tammy, Amita and Constance. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Kamryn B. comments, “Ocean’s 8 is the best comedic action movie ever! I enjoyed the way the movie flows, as if it’s a normal day stealing a billion dollar necklace.” Abraham F. adds, “I have never seen any other Ocean films and I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised.  The dialogue is realistic and it is really funny.” See their full reviews below.

Ocean’s 8

By Kamryn B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Ocean’s 8 is the best comedic action movie ever! I like it because of the fantastic animation and storyline. I enjoyed the way the movie flows, as if it’s a normal day stealing a billion dollar necklace. The comedy is the icing on a cake. It makes the movie sweet and enticing to watch.

The movie’s main character is Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock). In the beginning, we see her being released from jail after five years. During that time, she has planned the greatest heist with hidden intentions. Debbie Ocean’s team includes one of her old friends, Lou (Cate Blanchett). Lou and other highly intelligent cheaters are all part of the team, Ocean’s Eight. As the heist unfolds, it exposes the twists and turns behind the storyline to the audience. Sandra Bullock’s charisma in this role draws you to love her even more. The beautiful Rihanna is also in the film as “9-Ball”, the Jamaican hacker. The amazing actress from 12 Years a Slave, Sarah Paulson plays a caring mother who loves to shop for home goods. In the mix of the film celebrities pop up everywhere. You just have to pay attention to notice them.

What I love about the film is the all women cast planning on doing something not good. Most heist movies are about men robbing banks, planning their moves and then executing them. Ocean’s 8 has the same idea, but without the men. The costumes at the Met Gala for each of them are simply amazing and match each character’s personality and abilities.

My favorite part is the ending when everything is pulled together, from Debbie Ocean’s release to the creation of Ocean’s Eight. My favorite character is Constance who is played by Awkwafina, because of her funny attitude throughout the film. Also, her pick-pocketing skills blew my mind.

Ocean’s 8 is a movie to enjoy just because it’s an amazing film. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. Some jokes are questionable and there is some mild profanity, but nothing is extreme. I recommend it for ages 14 to 18 because of some language, alcohol and drug usage. It opens in theaters June 8, 2018 so check it out.

Ocean’s 8

By Abraham F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

I have never seen any other Ocean films and I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised.  The dialogue is realistic and it is really funny. There are some flaws. It does feel like a lot of other heist films. For example, it has a recruiting phase where one character is the hacker and another is talented at stealing things. Also Debbie Ocean has been in prison for five years plotting her plan, but her plan doesn’t take into account that technology changes.

Ocean’s 8 follows Debbie Ocean and her plan to steal a 150 million dollar necklace at the Met Gala. She has spent five years in prison and goes to her friend Lou, who helped her in past crimes and asks her to recruit people for the job. Her plan is to get Daphne Kluger, a world famous model, to wear the Cartier necklace and then they will create a fake one to replace it. After that, she would place one of the gems on the person that framed her with the intent of framing him and making it seem as if he stole it.

My favorite part is Rose’s character. She is entertaining and realistic when she tries to comfort Anne Hathaway’s character when her dress isn’t turning out the way she wanted. In another scene, she acts as if she isn’t interested in her and that makes her want Rose to be her designer.

There are a lot of big names in this film such as Cate Blanchett (Thor: Ragnarok, Lord of the Rings, Cinderella), Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar, Colossal). The director is also a really big name too, Gary Ross who wrote Seabiscuit and the Hunger Games.

 There is some mild profanity but nothing too extreme. It is a heist movie, so there are lots of risky actions such as hanging from rafters and escaping prison. I recommend this movie to anyone who enjoyed any of the previous Ocean films or other heist movies. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, as well as adults. It opens in theaters June 8, 2018 so check it out.

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

Book Gift Ideas for Father’s Day!

Looking for books for Dad this upcoming Father’s Day?

Here are some of my favorites!

Is Dad a Music Lover? He may really enjoy this one! LEO FENDER: The Quiet Giant Heard Around the World.

Leo Fender invented the electric guitar. But what made him even more special is that his guitars were used by giants ― spanning decades of music from Elvis to Eric Clapton to Jimi Hendrix to Keith Richards ― all the greats of rock and roll!  When Rolling Stone Magazine published a list of the world’s top 100 guitarists, 90 of them used one of Leo’s guitars ― and the rest used guitars that basically copied Leo’s invention.

While Fender guitars were recognized around the world, few people knew much about the man behind the legendary guitar. Leo Fender grew up in California, where an interest in electronics led him to open up a radio repair shop in 1938. But he didn’t just work on radios; his reputation earned him the respect of musicians and band leaders who trusted him to repair their equipment. As time went on he founded Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company and later, G&L Musical Instruments.

Now, Leo’s wife Phyllis, along with Randall Bell, Ph.D., give music fans a memory-filled look into the remarkable world of this quiet genius in their latest book, Leo Fender: The Quiet Giant Heard Around the World. Randall Bell also grew up in Leo’s neighborhood and his father was the head of the R&D department at Fender’s company.

While this quirky genius invented the electric guitar that helped produce fist-pumping rock and roll for music icons around the world, in reality this shy, unassuming inventor was nearly deaf and wore a glass eye. Leo was a workaholic and lived very simply. In fact, when he sold his company for $300 million, he was living in a trailer and continued to do so for some time. The book does a great job of showing the private side of this iconic genius, and what made him tick!

Fender’s game-changing contributions to the music world have been widely recognized. He was presented with the Country Music Association Pioneer Award in 1981, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock Walk of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His accomplishments were also acknowledged with a Technical Grammy Award in 2009.

Leo Fender died in 1991. Today, Phyllis Fender volunteers at the Fullerton Museum where she shares with visitors stories about her life with Leo. She also has held numerous positions at her church and serves as the Honorary Chairman of G&L Guitars, based in Fullerton, California.

You can find it at http://amzn.to/2pyi34

Does Dad love Nature? This one will be a hit! 

National Parks of the USA
Price: $30
https://www.quartoknows.com/books/9781847809766/National-Parks-of-the-USA.html
Discover the beauty and diversity of America’s great outdoors in this tour of its most iconic national parks. Explore Florida’s river-laced Everglades, travel down the white water rapids of the Grand Canyon, trek across the deserts of Death Valley and scale the soaring summits of the Rocky Mountains with this book that brings you up close to nature’s greatest adventures. Packed with maps and fascinating facts about the flora and fauna unique to each park, this fully-illustrated coast-to-coast journey documents the nation’s most magnificent and sacred places—and shows why they should be preserved for future generations to enjoy.
Parks include: Acadia, Badlands, Big Bend, Biscayne, Bryce Canyon, Channel Islands, Death Valley, Denali, Everglades, Glacier, Glacier Bay, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky, Mountains, Hawaii volcanoes, Isle Royal, Mesa Verde, Olympic, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Virgin Islands, Yellowstone and Yosemite.

If Dad likes to hike then check out  Ranger Rick Kids’ Guide to Hiking
Price: $14.95
Retail link: https://www.quartoknows.com/books/9781633225312/Ranger-Rick-Kids-Guide-to-Hiking.html
Description: Ranger Rick Kids’ Guide to Hiking shows you everything you need to know to have the most amazing hiking experiences! The book includes a real working compass that will help you find your way. Hiking is more than just a walk in the woods. Every outing is an adventure, and you never know what a hike will bring. By reading this book, you’ll learn where to go to hike, when to go, what to wear, and what to bring with you. You’ll also learn how to take care of nature and how to stay safe while on the trail. But best of all, this book shows you how you can have the most fun while hiking. For some kids, hiking itself might be adventure enough. But you can also bring along a nature journal or create land art. Bring a special hiking buddy with you—one who knows lots of good jokes, riddles, and games to pass the time. You can hike with your pooch, and believe it or not, you can even hike with llamas! The more you know about hiking, the more fun you can have on your adventures. So read the tips in this book at home before you go, and then head for the great outdoors and use the compass to help you find your way. Happy hiking!

Does Dad like to build things? This book is great for the Dad who likes to complete DIY projects! BLACK+DECKER has home improvement covered with the ultimate indoor/outdoor DIY book set. This handsome two-volume boxed set is a complete indoor/outdoor reference library for do-it-yourselfers in one affordable package. Boasting 1,160 pages of detailed how-to instructions and photos, this go-to information source has the answer to any home improvement question you may have, from fixing home wiring to showing you how to build a treehouse.

One of my favorite choices is The Yacht Rock Book!  Does Dad like the music of the 70’s and 80’s? The Yacht Rock Book is a must-read! I found this one an interesting read! So if Dad loves music from bands such as The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac..then this one would make the perfect gift!

Find out more here.

 

DUDE by Aaron Reynolds, illus. By Dan Santat (Roaring Brook Press, April 3, 2018, Ages 4-8)

This one is a simple book with only one word..Dude(s) but it is a fun book and I also love the characters and the detailed illustrations! This ingenious picture book tells a complex and hilarious story using only one word: DUDE. And there’s an amazing creative team: Caldecott honor author, Author Reynolds and Caldecott Medal author, Dan Santat.
What could be more fun than a platypus, beaver, and a shark surfing together? Kids will have a fun time figuring out all the different ways to say “dude.”

HOOKED by Tommy Greenwald; illustrated by David McPhail (Roaring Brook Press, January 9, 2018, Ages 2-6)
This is a cute story about Father and Son bonding on a fishing trip. This one would be a wonderful book for Father’s Day! I also like that it encourages children to try new things and learning to enjoy the experience completely. Author Tommy Greenwald’s gentle humor will appeal to parents and kids alike. Veteran illustrator David McPhail brings a classic feel to this book through his art.
I have featured this cute story before but this would make a great gift idea especially for new Fathers!
YOUR BABY’S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA by Jimmy Fallon (Feiwel & Friends, June 9, 2015, Ages 1-3) #1 New York Times Bestseller! Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC’s The Tonight Show, and one of the most popular entertainers in the world, is also a father. His children’s book is funny and warm and adorable—just like he is. Illustrator Miguel Ordóñez’s art will charm readers of all ages.

I WONDER: CELEBRATING DADDIES DOIN’ WORK by Doyin Richards (Feiwel & Friends, May 3, 2016, Ages 3-5)Doyin Richards is a dad whose mission is to celebrate “how fatherhood is the coolest and most rewarding gig a man will ever have in his lifetime.” This one is perfect for Father’s Day but would also be great year-round! This is an adorable picture book and I highly recommend for children and their Dads! 
 

Happy Father’s Day!

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

Dino Dan: Trek’s Adventures: The Complete Series – Lots of Excitement, Adventures and Learning

Dino Dan: Trek’s Adventures: The Complete Series is a series for young kids with a lot of excitement, and fun adventures to go on! Kids will love this series if they have a big imagination and of course, have a love of dinosaurs.

On this DVD, there are 50 dino-filled adventures with the dinosaur expert, Trek Henderson. Trek imagines different types of dinosaurs in the real world throughout all of his experiences! While Trek’s brother, Dan is away helping his dad with something, Trek takes over and entertains himself with his dinosaur world. The goal is to finish up some of the experiments that Dan has started. Trek even meets some new dinosaurs and marine reptiles that he hasn’t seen before! Join Trek on his wonderful adventures throughout the world of dinosaurs!

One reason I really like this show is how they incorporate educational lessons into it. It’s not everyday that you see a kids TV show that includes all kinds of educational facts within the story line. This is exactly what this series does. For example, in the episode “Trek Rex,” Trek is having trouble figuring out what dinosaur he wants to dress up as for a party. Throughout the episode, he has various encounters with several dinosaurs to help him make his final decision. Trek and the dinosaurs’ encounters happen in the real world, in front of real people, so he is imagining it. I believe that creates a connection between Trek and kids in the real world, since many have big imaginations.

The overall message in this series is that it’s okay to have an imagination and even share it with others! Trek has no problem sharing his findings out loud for everyone to see and has no shame about doing that. This is what kids should feel. And, sharing their findings throughout their childhood is a cool thing to do.

I rate this show 4 out of 5 stars for its playful storyline, exciting cast, imagination and much more. I would love to see the storyline develop more, but it’s perfect for younger kids. I recommend it for ages 5 through 10. This is available on DVD now, so check it out.

Dino Dan Trek’s Adventure: The Complete Series
By Abraham Finer, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 13

This series is great for keeping younglings entertained over the summer. With over 500 minutes in its 50 episodes, this will keep them busy and will keep them interested. I found Trek talking to an imaginary dinosaur somewhat strange but hey, it doesn’t seem to bother his mom.

The storyline is about when Trek’s brother who goes away to dig up fossils and Trek misses him. Then, one day a package arrives in the mail with a message from Dan asking Trek to help him do some dinosaur experiments. In later episodes, he gets better and better at conducting these experiments. One of his tasks is to find out if albertosaurus hunt in packs. For this, he gets a ham sandwich and gets the albertosaurus to chase him.

Trek is played by Trek Buccino who lives in Toronto, Ontario and attended Claude Watson School for the Arts. He has also been in Pacific Rim and PJ Masks. Trek’s mom is played by Allana Harkin who has been nominated for the Primetime Emmy award for Full Frontal which she produced.

What I like about the show is that it is enjoyable to watch while you learn some facts along the way. I recommend it for ages 3 to 8 and give it 3 out of 5 stars. It is available now on Digital and DVD/Blu-ray so, check it out.

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

Perfect for Father’s Day! New Album from Like Father Like Son – “Sun is a Star”

In Time for Father’s Day!
SUN IS A STAR

the Debut Album Release from
LIKE FATHER LIKE SON
Real-Life Father & Son 
Lou Gallo (Lou Gallo & The Very Hungry Band)
& Frank Gallo (Rolie Polie Guacamole)
plus Grammy winner Dean Jones
w/special guests Grammy nominee Brady Rymer & Katie Ha Ha Ha
Celebrating this Father’s Day with a father-and-son musical bonanza, Frank Gallo, of Brooklyn’s award-winning titans of kindie music, Rolie Polie Guacamole, and his dad, veteran children’s musician Lou Gallo of Lou Gallo & The Very Hungry Band, have teamed with GRAMMY-winning producer/performer Dean Jones of Dog on Fleas to create a bona fide kindie super-group: Like Father Like Son. Mix in splendid contributions from GRAMMY nominee Brady Rymer and Katie Ha Ha Ha, and you have Sun is a Star, a stellar album for families that’s set for release on June 8, 2018.

Frank Gallo explains, “My dad and I are a father-and-son team who have each had a lot of experience in kindie music. In fact, Sun is a Staris the 7th family album for both of us. Adding Dean Jones to the mix actually bridges the generations. In our band, Like Father Like Son, we have Baby Boomer Lou Gallo, Generation X-er Dean Jones, and Millennial Frank Gallo!”

After years of talking about the possibility of working together on an album, in 2017 Frank persuaded his dad, Lou Gallo, that the time was right, proposing that each of them contribute five or six songs. Together they decided to take Dean Jones up on his invitation to record at Dean’s storied No Parking Studio in Rosendale, NY. Having worked with Dean quite a bit through the years, Frank knew this was an offer he could not refuse, for Dean’s production artistry came with the added bonus of his superb performing skills (bass, drums, marimba, guitar, trombone, vocals). Indeed, all indications were that the stars were in the right confluence for a solid record.

As one would expect, Sun is a Star includes several tracks that feature songs with a father-and-son theme.  Some are of a general nature (“Like My Dad,” “Like Father Like Son”) while others explore the Gallo family musical scrapbook, like “She’s a Dog,” which was father Lou’s very first collaboration with two-year-old Frank. Lou wrote “Tennis Racket Song” when he was right out of high school.  As one of the earliest of Lou’s songs that Frank remembers hearing, he encouraged his dad to include it in the Sun is a Star lineup.

Sun is a Star kicks off with the irrepressible, rhythmic energy of the album’s title track and moves right into “Halloween Night,” featuring a spooky use of the theremin throughout the song. The calypso-style “Day-O,” always popular at Rolie Polie Guacamole sing-alongs, is perfect for kids-and-family line dancing. The whimsical dance number “Shake Shake Shake” contrasts hilariously with the ultra-frenetic “Shake Your Shaker.”

Other highlights include the action song, “Sharks and Dinosaurs,” with its ear-catching percussion sounds, and a splendid cover of “Handle with Care,” written by George Harrison for the legendary Traveling Wilburys, in which Frank Gallo faithfully recreates Harrison’s signature solo guitar style.

Sun is a Star will be available at CDBaby, iTunes, Bandcamp, Spotify, and Amazon. Pre-orders may be placed now.

Self Disclosure: I received a free copy to facilitate this post. Images and Information were also provided. 

Maya The Bee 2: The Honey Games

After a slow harvest season, the very survival of the hive is threatened. Maya, and her sidekick, Willy, go to Buzztropolis, where the Empress invites them to participate in the Honey Games. But if they lose, the hive will have to give the Empress all of their summer honey! Needless to say, Maya and Willy’s teammates are neither enthusiastic nor athletic, but Maya remains positive and exclaims that “every bug has a talent!” Can Maya and Team Poppy win and secure her hive’s future? Only if Maya is able to gain new friends and learn about teamwork, responsibility, and overcoming their differences! Bonus features: The Making of Maya the Bee 2; Original teaser and trailers. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jolleen M. comments, “I really enjoyed watching this! This animated film has many underlying messages without becoming confusing.” Raquel Y. adds, “This is definitely a charming DVD for the younger set. My favorite part about this engaging film is the colorful, expressive animation. The voice actors certainly give their all to their whimsical and distinctive roles. Adult juror Tina B. wraps it up with, “The visual appeal of this DVD is appropriate and interesting enough for the youth it was designed for. The DVD is animated and colorful and lively in action to keep the interests of the intended audiences.” See their full reviews below.

Maya The Bee 2: The Honey Games

By Jolleen Mejia, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

I really enjoyed watching this! This animated film has many underlying messages without becoming confusing. Each of the characters have their own strong personalities which makes their interactions interesting. The plotline is intriguing also.

The main character, Maya is a bee who dreams of competing in The Honey Games. One day she has a chance to make her dream comes true, but it will put her entire city at risk. The Empress demands Maya’s city to give up half of their honey to contribute to The Honey Games. They aren’t allowed to participate, but are forced to give up their honey. Maya believes that this is outrageous and challenges the Empress. If Maya wins, she doesn’t have to give up any honey. But if she loses, they have to give up all of their honey and her city will starve.

Maya (Coco Jack Gillies) is a well developed character. Coco Jack Gillies makes her voice distinctly sound differently which is good for Maya who goes through a lot of emotions. Gillies can sound distressed, guilty, ecstatic and hopeful.

The animation is done really well. The quality is great and all of the little details contribute to make it seem very realistic. The music also is very suitable for the film and sets the mood in the various scenes.

My favorite part is when Maya’s best friend Willy realizes that Violet, a bee who is a bully, is trying to sabotage them. Willy has a slight crush on Violet, which blinds him of all the mean things she is doing to Maya. Finally Willy realizes what is happening and stands up for Maya. Even through all these hardships, Maya and Willy find it in their hearts to forgive Violet for everything that she has done. That is one of the messages in this film.

Other messages address how everyone has their own special talent, how you should believe in yourself and that no matter how small you are, you can still make a difference. These messages are really important and give kids a lot of self confidence. I love how they incorporate all of these wonderful messages into the story without making the film trivial.

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 10. This DVD is available now so, be sure to check it out.

Maya the Bee 2: The Honey Games

By Raquel Y., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

This is definitely a charming DVD for the younger set. My favorite part about this engaging film is the colorful, expressive animation. The voice actors certainly give their all to their whimsical and distinctive roles. Bugs and bees are endowed with wonderfully human traits which make this a charming film for families.

Maya (Coco Jack Gilles) is brave, determined and smart. She wants to help all the inhabitants of Poppy Meadow. The bee kingdom’s most royal leader, Empress of the Bees (Marney McQueen) has ordered the bees of Poppy Meadow to “contribute” half their summer honey harvest to her hive in Buzztropolis.

Maya The Bee 2: The Honey Games is the follow-up to the television series Maya the Bee and one previous film called, Maya the Bee Movie. Young Maya is the heroine, supported by her best friend Willy. She is optimistic, brave and loves helping others. Each of Maya’s adventures results in the little bee learning important life lessons and sharing those lessons with others.

It is filled with positive messages, beautifully incorporated into the storyline. Maya isn’t always the best team player, but she takes responsibility for her mistakes. The many featured characters shine as they learn something about their own uniqueness, about self-confidence and trying new things. Honesty counts most of all. Even Violet, the potential bully, and the arrogant and smug Empress are touched by Maya’s contagiously optimistic spirit, love of freedom and passion for fairness. Young viewers who are comfortable with mild cartoon action and suspense will enjoy this. This is a cannot miss film that kids everywhere and anywhere will enjoy.

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. You can catch this film on DVD and Blu-Ray now so, look for it.

Maya the Bee 2, The Honey Games

By Tina Bunche, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

My six-year-old granddaughter really enjoyed this DVD. The storyline is quite interesting in showing the life of bees and how they gather honey and support the Queen and all the other bees in the colony. The story line continues with the Queen Bee of Poppy Meadow and her bees gathering honey for the winter. She realizes that they may not have enough honey for the hive to last the winter when she gets word that the Empress, her estranged sister, has declared that the Queen’s colony has been selected for The Honey Games. The Hive of Poppy Meadow is required to honor the Empress to donate 50% of their honey. They don’t have enough honey for their own hive to survive the winter, so the request is a difficult one to abide by. Maya and her best friend Willie go the Empress and please their case.

The story line is easy to follow and suitable for the target audience. The vocabulary and concepts are also right on target. There is a lot of teamwork shown and sometimes Maya tries things on her own but soon realizes that is a mistake and relies on her friends to help. There are some consequences and they are repaired by the characters in a nice way. Each becomes more respectful of the others as time passes.

The visual appeal of this DVD is appropriate and interesting enough for the youth it was designed for. The DVD is animated and colorful and lively in action to keep the interests of the intended audiences. I feel that the storyline of this is quite entertaining for youth and the pictures of the bees are so cute! The characters on the cover are so interesting you wonder what kind of trouble are they about to get into!

In terms of the message of this story, as the story develops, we discover that the Empress and the Queen are actually sisters that do not get along. Towards the end they make up and realize they love each other and miss being together. Forgiveness becomes the overall theme as we see the sisters resolve their differences. Also, during the competition games the contestants learn a few lessons about fairness and love. I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 9.

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

Books of the Week June 5th, 2018

Do you love Puppies and love to crochet? This book is a must-buy!

Dumpling Pups

Beginner- to intermediate-level crocheters will have a doggone good time with these 20 original patterns for dumpling-shaped dogs. Inspired by a Japanese collecting game, the guide offers full-color photos, simple diagrams, and easy-to-follow instructions that assist crafters in “collecting” all of the cuddly pups, each of which comes with its own charming story and personality points. Breeds include corgi, dachshund, pit bull, lab, and many others — a dog bed and bowl are also included.  This book has so many cute Puppy patterns in it! I love it!

And if you also like Cats….

Dumpling Cats

Waffles is a relaxed feline who loves to read, and Cheeks just can’t get enough to eat. These fun-loving characters are just two of the 25 dumpling-shaped crochet cats in this whimsical collection. The cuddly crochet critters were inspired by the Pokémon™-like craze Neko Atsume, a game that enables you to attract cats to your backyard and “collect” them. Each little dumpling has a name and personality points that add up to big fun!

Are they cute or what?!

Both books retail for $19.95 each and can be found at Dover Publications.

This next one is perfect if you have a High School or College student!

Success Skills for High School, College, and Career by Cary J. Green, PhD offers step-by-step guidelines and hands-on exercises to enable students to enhance their academic performance and prepare for future career success. I think this book is a must-read for students and parents too! I like that it has step-by-step guidelines and hands-on exercises that are helpful for high school and college-age students. It’s a great resource and I like that it teaches students how to be successful in school. It’s a real inspirational book that I highly recommend! It is available both in print and digital formats. This would make a great graduation gift too!

Find out more here! 

Are you looking for some Summer reading (not for the kids)….

Chasing the Merry-Go-Round (memoir, special needs, personal growth) Life moves fast. Too fast for some people. This is the true story of what it’s like to live in a world where you can’t keep up. Bobby was ten months old when my mom and dad rescued him from birth parents who were slowly killing him. He was adopted into our family after a lengthy custody battle. Instead of that settling him, it set off a lifelong struggle to find a place to belong, a place to call home. Like an old-fashioned merry-go-round, the world moved at a speed that was just too fast for Bobby. He couldn’t keep up, which prevented him from keeping a job, a roof over his head, and the basics needed to survive. The life he dreamt of was always out of reach. No one knew why. While cultural ideals of what a “normal” life looks like can distort our perspective, Chasing the Merry-Go-Round allows readers to see the world through the eyes of a person with intellectual and physical disabilities, which can often be invisible, especially at first glance. It’s a story about struggle and hope, survival and resilience, and most of all, the gift of acceptance and love.

This book made me cry and it made me smile! I have worked in Child Abuse and Domestic Violence (still do) so this book hit close to home with me. This is a wonderful book that really shows the struggle and how it is to have intellectual and physical disabilities. I recommend this one highly!

Sanity Lost & Found (Memoir, abuse, cult, personal growth, inspirational) How do we become victims of our own irrationality? What makes us vulnerable to the predators among us? Why would an otherwise sensitive, intelligent woman allow herself to return again and again to her abuser? How do we stop the erosion of our self-worth?

Simultaneously recognizable and horrifying, we see parts of ourselves and our own vulnerabilities in this compelling story of one woman’s descent into and climb out of the abyss.

For anyone who has ever allowed themselves to be victimized, for anyone who has ever doubted their value, for anyone wanting to protect their children from such vulnerabilities, SANITY LOST & FOUND is a compelling, informative, and inspirational read that weaves together the how and why for such vulnerabilities and the components necessary for recovery and transformation.

This one shows how emotional and mental abuse can really have a negative impact. If you want more understanding of why a woman continues to go back to an abuser…this book may help you have more understanding.

 

Self Disclosure: I received free copies of the above books to feature as featured books. Cover images and Videos were also received to use in this post.