Books of the Week!

Here are my favorites this week!

Have an Artist in your house or someone who loves to draw? These will be a big hit!


Discover the “Little Books” that pack a big punch from Walter Foster Publishing!

In this new series, artists and hobbyists alike will learn a variety of interesting art topics, including manga, hand-lettering, and sketching, in a small and portable format. Filled with practice pages, creative exercises, and fun prompts, these books are great for beginners looking to learn the fundamentals in an entertaining way.

The Little Book of Sketching is my absolute favorite! I love how it really seems to make drawing seem much easier! 

More than 100 quirky and clever ideas for sketching your way through daily life
by Matt Andrews.

$14.99 US, $19.99 CA

I am sure these other two will be a hit with your children!

The Little Book of Manga Drawing

More than 50 tips and techniques for learning the art of manga and anime

by Jeannie Lee and Samantha Whitten

$14.99 US, $19.99, CAN

The Little Book of Lettering & Word Design

More than 50 tips and techniques for mastering a variety of stylish, elegant, and contemporary hand-written alphabets

by Cari Ferraro and John Stevens

$14.99 US, $19.99 CAN

This next one is great for Middle School readers!

Flower Moon

by Gina Linko

Sky Pony Press hardcover, also available as an eBook.

Tally Jo and Tempest Trimble are mirror twins, so alike they were almost born the same person. Inseparable, but more than that. Connected.

 That is, until this summer. The twins are traveling with Pa Charlie’s carnival just like always, but there’s a new distance between them. Tempest is so caught up in her own ideas, she doesn’t seem to have space left in her life for Tally. And, more than that, Tally’s started to notice there’s something between them. Something real, growing with the phases of the moon, pushing them apart. Sparking, sputtering, wild. Dangerous.

 With the full moon approaching, Tally knows it’s up to her to find out what’s going on—and to beat it. If she can’t, she might just lose her sister. Forever.

 For fans of Savvy and A Snicker of Magic, this is a spellbinding story of friendship and family—a poignant ode to both what’s worth holding on to, and what we have to let go.

This one is a truly magical story! 

If you know someone who loves Unicorns, then this next book is a must! I know I loved Unicorns as a young girl! This is a delightful book from Cakespy founder Jessie Oleson Moore – Stuff Unicorns Love.


A whimsical, humorous imagining of what unicorns really think and what they truly love—including the history of these mythical creatures.

Glitter. Sparkles. Rainbows and shimmering manes. Sure, unicorns are magical, and their reputations have taken the world by storm, but how much do we know about what unicorns really think? Would they really drink that pastel milkshake you found on Pinterest?

In Stuff Unicorns Love, you’ll get a guided tour of unicorns’ most treasured things straight from a unicorn’s mouth—from food recipes, to their favorite activities.

Learn the truth about these adorable (and painfully honest) creatures, as well as the facts behind their origins. With illustrations and tons of fascinating unicorn facts throughout, this is a perfect gift for unicorn lovers of all ages.

Even as an adult, I loved this book!

JESSIE OLESON MOORE is a writer, cook, and illustrator. No, that’s not indecision: it’s a unique mix of talents that comes together in a magical and engaging form. She is the creator of, a popular dessert and baked goods related website set up as an online “dessert detective agency” dedicated to seeking sweetness in everyday life. CakeSpy has been featured in The New York TimesSaveurSunset MagazineFood & Wine,Bon AppetitOThe Oprah Magazine, and The Boston Globe. She is the author of two cookbooks and two coloring books, including CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar Filled LifeUnicorn Coloring Book, andAnother Unicorn Coloring Book. In addition to running CakeSpy, Jessie has also written and illustrated forSerious Eats,, Peanut Butter and Company, Pillsbury, The Wisconsin Butter Board,, SaveurTaste of Home, and Microsoft.

Self Disclosure: I received free copies of the above books and only feature books that I highly recommend! Cover images and information were also provided. 

Lily’s Driftwood Bay: Season 1 – Great Plot, Hours of Fun Adventures

Welcome to Lily’s Driftwood Bay. Lily is six years old and lives with her dad and her best friend, who is a seagull named Gull, in a little hut on the beach. Across the way is Driftwood Bay, a special island that exists in Lily’s imagination.  Every day the sea washes up a new treasure which sparks Lily’s imagination about what might be happening on Driftwood Bay. Join Lily and her friends, Salty Dog, Bull, Nonna, Hatsie, Wee Rabbit and Lord Stag as they sail to Driftwood Bay where wonderful adventures await! Along with each adventure is a valuable lesson learned in each story from learning to tell the truth to saying sorry to asking for help. Embark on new adventures with Lily and friends as they travel to Driftwood Bay. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dariana A. comments, “Each episode on this DVD has a great plot that brings you along the adventures in Lily’s imagination. These episodes keep it very interesting and there is never a dull moment. It teaches good lessons in fun ways.” Izzy C. adds, “Lily’s Driftwood Bay, Season 1 is filled with hours of fun adventures in short, easy-to-watch episodes. I can’t lie, when I put in the DVD for the first time I actually watched 16 shows in a row! It was pretty epic!” Rachael V. wraps it up with, “Watching Lily’s Driftwood Bay: Season 1 gives me hope for future generations. Lily is always so kind to those around her and her life is filled with simple adventures that are genuinely interesting, shedding light on the fact that life doesn’t always have to be busy to be enjoyable.” See their full reviews below.

Lily’s Driftwood Bay: Season 1

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

Lily’s Driftwood Bay: Season 1 is an amazing DVD. It’s a fun way to teach kids about exploring their curiosity and discovering new things. The show takes its viewers into the world of Lily’s fantasy. Each episode on this DVD has a great plot that brings you along the adventures in Lily’s imagination. These episodes keep it very interesting and there is never a dull moment. It teaches good lessons in fun ways.

Lily’s Driftwood Bay focuses on a world in Lily’s imagination called Driftwood Bay. Lily finds new treasures on the seashore everyday that spark her interest. She then travels in her imagination to Driftwood Bay where friends like Salty Dog, Lord Stag and Wee Rabbit help her find out what the object is and what it’s used for.

My favorite thing about this show is the accents of the characters. All have British accents, which I love because it gives a different vibe to the show. Each adventure you take with Lily, teaches you a valuable lesson in such a fun way. This is truly a kid’s dream film, because it shows a 6-year-old having fun in her own world, just like any other kid. My favorite episode would have to be Starfish in the Sky. That episode is about when Lily finds a telescope on the seashore and wants to look at a constellation in the sky that looks like a star. At the end of the episode, everybody comes together to see the starfish and it is nice to see all of the characters in one spot. The show is really interesting and shows Lily’s day to day life as well as the lives of her friends in Driftwood Bay. My favorite character has to be Salty Dog. He is such an amazing character and is always there for Lily. Salty is the one to drive the boat to take Lily to Driftwood and the one who tells her about the stars in the sky.

The message of this show is to not be afraid to ask others questions about things that interest you, just like Lily who asks her friends questions all the time. I recommend this DVD for ages 4 to 8 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. This DVD is available now, so check it out.

Lily’s Driftwood Bay, Season 1

By Izzy Cruz, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Lily’s Driftwood Bay, Season 1 is filled with hours of fun adventures in short, easy-to-watch episodes. I can’t lie, when I put in the DVD for the first time I actually watched 16 shows in a row! It was pretty epic!

The entire series takes place on a hidden, quiet beach with tall grass and a cute little house. Lily and her father live in a little house there. Past the grass, there is a small shore where gentle waves wash up onto the sand. Sometimes the water washes up random items that were floating out at sea. A seagull named Gull watches out for new treasures every day. Gull finds Lily every time a new little treasure washes onto the beach. She gets excited when she sees Gull and the two of them run off to inspect the treasure.

Across the way is Driftwood Bay, an imaginary island. This special island is where Lily’s stories come to life. I will explain just how that happens. Every episode focuses on a brand new treasure. Sometimes the item is a piece or a part that broke off of something bigger. Sometimes it is a common item like a jar. Lily’s imagination always takes off into a fun story whenever a new item comes along, no matter what it is. Lily and Gull take a boat over to the island and that is where every adventure story happens.

There are more than two main characters. Her friends are Salty Dog, Bull, Nonna, Hatsie, Wee Rabbit, and Lord Stag. Lord Stag is somewhat full of himself and has very high expectations of the group. The rest of the group are helpful, but they always get themselves stuck in a pickle. Then it’s left to Lily and Gull to save the day.

The animation is sweet and really unique. I find it interesting. It has 2D paper animation and also uses real life objects. It’s called “Mixed Media.”  This is a great series for young children. It’s not scary at all and there are no villains, so even toddlers can watch it. The short episodes make it good for young kids who can’t watch longer shows.

I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 3 to 9. Moms can watch this with their kids because the animation is so intriguing. Lily’s Driftwood Bay, Season 1 is available now on DVD everywhere so, check it out.

Lily’s Driftwood Bay: Season 1

By Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Juror

Watching Lily’s Driftwood Bay: Season 1 gives me hope for future generations. Lily is always so kind to those around her and her life is filled with simple adventures that are genuinely interesting, shedding light on the fact that life doesn’t always have to be busy to be enjoyable. Lily is an adorable little 5-year-old whom I adore for things like how respectful she is to her father. It is so touching to see a single father raising a daughter represented so positively. In this season, there is an episode called Goodbye Seabird and it is particularly touching and heart-breaking. In this episode, you learn a little bit about Lily’s mom. What makes it so special is that not many children’s shows acknowledge death, especially the death of a parent. The art is extremely cute. It looks like mixed media using colored pencils and paper cut-outs. The music is charming and blends well with the scenery. I highly recommend this for ages 3 to 6 and give it 5 out of 5 stars!  Reviewed by Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.


“Disney Junior Dance Party On Tour” Launching 50 Show National Tour Beginning March 14

Launching March 14 in Southern California, the high-energy “Disney Junior Dance Party On Tour” will perform 50 shows across the country. Inspired by favorite Disney Junior series, the interactive concert tour includes songs from Mickey and the Roadster Racers, Sofia the First, Elena of Avalor, Doc McStuffins, The Lion Guard, as well as newest hit series Vampirina and Puppy Dog Pals. The live concert will also include a brand-new interactive experience featuring Disney Junior’s highly-anticipated series, Muppet Babies, launching in early 2018.

Check out the official announcement via Billboard here:

The tour will make stops at marquis venues including Rosemont Theatre (Chicago), The Fox Theatre (Atlanta) and The Grand Ole Opry (Nashville). A complete list of venues and dates are listed below.

Join hosts, Dee and Jay, and the DJ Dance squad as they welcome Mickey, Minnie and other Disney Junior characters on-stage to perform popular songs including “Hot Dog Dance” from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, “Time For Your Check Up” from Doc McStuffins, “Zuka Zama” from The Lion Guard and “Happy Helpers” from Mickey and the Roadster Racers. It’s going to be a dance party you won’t want to miss!

“We are delighted to collaborate with Red Light Management to bring some of Disney Junior’s biggest hit series to the stage for kids and families nationwide to enjoy in a truly immersive concert experience,” said Jennifer Rogers-Doyle, Vice President, Franchise Management, Disney Channels Worldwide.

“The ‘Disney Junior Dance Party On Tour’ is going to be the premiere family concert event of the year and for many years to come. The production is absolutely stunning and working alongside Disney and Amy Tinkham to create this show has been an incredible experience and an honor,” says executive tour producer Jonathan Shank. “Parents and children are going to truly love this show. There are new songs, greatest hits and some mashups, which are really fun!”

Disney Visa Cardmember presale tickets, as well as VIP meet-and-greet packages, will be available starting Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 12:00 p.m. EST, with Disney Junior Facebook pre-sales starting Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 10:00 a.m. (local time). Public on-sale tickets for “Disney Junior Dance Party On Tour” begin Friday, Nov. 17. Parents can go to to get more information and to purchase tickets. Additional dates to be announced.

VIP package offers include an after-party and meet-and-greets following each performance. Kids and families will also have the opportunity to enjoy breakfast with characters including Mickey, Sofia and Doc on weekend show days. Performances during the week will include a special VIP offering, an afternoon tea featuring appearances by Princess Elena, Princess Sofia and Minnie Mouse.

“Disney Junior Dance Party On Tour” Dates:

March 14 / Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza / Thousand Oaks, CA

March 16 / Fox Performing Arts Center / Riverside, CA

March 18 / The Grove of Anaheim / Anaheim, CA

March 21 / Majestic Theatre / San Antonio, TX

March 22 / Smart Financial Centre / Sugar Land, TX

March 24 / Fox Theatre / Atlanta, GA

March 25 / Belk Theatre at North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center / Charlotte, NC

March 27 / The Tennessee Theatre / Knoxville, TN

March 28 / Grand Ole Opry House / Nashville, TN

March 30 / Saenger Theatre / New Orleans, LA

April 3 / Gaillard Center / Charleston, SC

April 5 / King Center / Melbourne, FL

April 7 / Florida Theatre – Jacksonville / Jacksonville, FL

April 8 / BJCC Concert Hall / Birmingham, AL

April 10 / Tivoli Theatre / Chattanooga, TN

April 11 / Durham Performing Arts Center / Durham, NC

April 12 / Lyric Theatre / Baltimore, MD

April 13 / Count Basie Theatre / Red Bank, NJ*

April 14 / Old Dominion University – Ted Constant Convocation Center / Norfolk, VA

April 15 / Benedum Center / Pittsburgh, PA

April 17 / Kodak Center for the Arts / Rochester, NY

April 18 / Bergen Performing Arts Center / Englewood, NJ

April 19 / The Vets / Providence, RI

April 20 / Tower Theater / Upper Darby, PA

April 21 / Warner Theatre / Washington, DC*

April 22 / May Performing Arts Center / Morristown, NJ*

April 24 / Palace Theatre / Albany, NY

April 25 / Santander Performing Arts Center / Reading, PA

April 26 / Altria Theater / Richmond, VA

April 27 / FM Kirby Center of Performing Arts / Wilkes-Barre, PA

April 28 / The Goodyear Theatre at East End / Akron, OH

April 29 / Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences / Charleston, WV

May 1 / Orpheum Theatre / Minneapolis, MN

May 3 / Fox Theatre / Detroit, MI

May 4 / Clowes Memorial Hall / Indianapolis, IN

May 5 / Rosemont Theatre / Chicago, IL

May 6 / Taft Theatre / Cincinnati, OH

May 8 / Riverside Theatre / Milwaukee, WI

May 10 / Peabody Opera House / St. Louis, MO

May 11 / Orpheum Theatre / Memphis, TN

May 12 / Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie / Grand Prairie, TX

May 15 / Paramount Theatre / Denver, CO

May 17 / Comerica Theatre / Phoenix, AZ

May 18 / Cox Pavilion / Las Vegas, NV

May 19 / City National Civic / San Jose, CA

May 20 / Fox Theatre / Oakland, CA

*denotes 2 performances


About Disney Junior:
Disney Junior reflects the emotional connection generations of consumers have to Disney storytelling and Disney characters, both classic and contemporary. It invites mom and dad to join their child in the Disney experience of magical, musical and heartfelt stories and characters while incorporating specific learning and development themes designed for kids age 2-7. Disney Junior’s series blend Disney’s unparalleled storytelling and characters kids love deeply with learning, including early math, language skills, healthy eating and lifestyles, and social skills. In the U.S., Disney Junior is a daily programming block on Disney Channel and a 24-hour channel reaching over 71 million U.S. homes. In total, there are 37 Disney Junior channels in 27 languages around the world.

About Red Light Management:

With offices in New York, Los Angeles, Charlottesville, Nashville, Atlanta, Bristol and London, Red Light Management is one of the most innovative artist management companies in the industry. Founded by Coran Capshaw in 1991 when he began managing the Dave Matthews Band, RLM’s roster now also includes Phish, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Alabama Shakes, Victoria Justice, Magic!, Lionel Richie and many more. RLM is a leader in live family entertainment having produced the national touring productions of Peppa Pig Live and The Octonauts, along with the Fresh Beat Band Live concert. RLM is known for taking an entrepreneurial approach with its diverse roster of clients. Its managers are also at the forefront of defining the expanding role of personal management in the music and entertainment business. The company’s capabilities include a broad expertise in artist development, touring, commerce, festivals, licensing, branded entertainment, tour production services, artist-driven philanthropy, and more.

Follow “Disney Junior Dance Party On Tour” here: 

Early Man

A plucky cave man named Dug, his sidekick Hognob and the rest of their tribe face a grave threat to their simple existence. Lord Nooth plans to take over their land and transform it into a giant mine, forcing Dug and his clan to dig for precious metals. Not ready to go down without a fight, Dug and Hognob must unite their people in an epic quest to defeat a mighty enemy — the Bronze Age. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Samantha M. comments, “This fantastic, animated film from Nick Park and Aardman Animations had me laughing the entire time. Hands down, it is the best movie I have seen this year.” Morgan B. adds, “Early Man really caught my eye with all the quirky characters, fun scenes and the excitement throughout the film. It is sure to be a film that you will never forget.” See their full reviews below.

Early Man

By Samantha M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 18

This fantastic, animated film from Nick Park and Aardman Animations had me laughing the entire time. Hands down, it is the best movie I have seen this year. With a unique storyline, exquisite action scenes and a rollercoaster of events, your eyes don’t want to leave the screen.

Set in the Stone Age, when cavemen and wooly mammoths inhabited the Earth, Chief Bonbar and his tribe are driven out of their homeland by a Bronze Age army, led by Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston). Lord Nooth claims the Stone Age is over, and Chief Bonbar’s (Timothy Spall) tribe is forced to remain in the volcanic badlands outside of the new city. A young caveman named Dug (Eddie Redmayne)  tries to attack, but is knocked into a basket heading to the city. He tries to hide, but ends up being mistaken for a football player. When Dug and Lord Nooth finally meet, they make a deal: If Chief Bonbar’s tribe beats Lord Nooth’s team in a game of football, then the cavemen can have their valley back.

Dug looks at every situation with optimism. He cares about his tribe and will do absolutely anything for them. Even though he knows he could lose his valley, he constantly perseveres and doesn’t think about giving up. Hognob (Nick Park) is the funniest character in the film. He is Dug’s pet boar and, although he has no dialogue, he makes the weirdest noises. Hognob is so adorable that I want a pet boar now. The relationship Hognob and Dug share is loving and reminds me of the relationship I have with my pets.

The animation is ingenious, because each character is unconventional. With crooked teeth, messy hair and big eyes, these characters are ones you haven’t seen before. My eyes were peeled the entire time, because I couldn’t stop admiring the unique animation. My favorite part is when Dug tries to steal some balls from the Bronze Age city. Hognob distracts Lord Nooth and has to play the harp for him, while he takes a bath. Hognob tries to sing and play the harp, but it sounds so terrible that it makes you laugh.

The message of this film is to never give up under any circumstances. Don’t ever feel intimidated by somebody, because with teamwork and optimism, you can accomplish absolutely anything. Appreciate your differences and remember that nobody can bring you down.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, because I have never laughed so hard while watching a film. I recommend it for kids ages 8 to 18, and adults would enjoy it too. It is perfect to watch with your family and friends, because it will put a huge smile on your face and show you how important it is to follow your heart.

Catch this film in theaters nationwide on February 16, 2018. Find out what it means to be an early man.

Early Man

By Morgan B. Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

Get your footballs out and be ready to time travel back into the past! Early Man has to be a terrific film especially when the award-winning people who brought you Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep Movie are behind it. Early Man really caught my eye with all the quirky characters, fun scenes and the excitement throughout the film. It is sure to be a film that you will never forget.

The claymation in Early Man is terrific. It is astonishing all the different movement these characters make. There is a huge variety of characters, including a giant mega-teeth mallard duck.

Set your time machines to the Stone Age because that is when Early Man takes place. I like that this film takes place in the Stone Age because it helps with the character development, settings and their lifestyles. I love that the characters are different from the people that we normally see in movies and on TV, because they don’t have technology, furniture or much education. Also the setting is very different because there aren’t very many houses, billboards or fast food stands like we have today. Instead, they replaced all those things with trees, volcanoes, hills and a giant palace. Since the characters don’t have all these things, it makes their personalities very lovable and kind. The tribe wants food and a bit of love from the ones they care about. Lord Nooth only wants gold and a winning team of football players. Then he will be richer than the Queen.

Dug (Eddie Redmayne) is a kind of silly boy who loves his tribe. He is my favorite character because when I see Eddie Redmayne playing a caveman after he played the stupendous scientist Stephen Hawking in the film, The Theory Of Everything, shows what a diverse actor he is. Eddie Redmayne has come a long way from playing Stephen Hawking to Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to a comical caveman saving the world.

Goona (Maisie Williams) is the beautiful and fearless girl who saves the day along with Dug. She loves soccer and is the best in her sport. They do indeed need a good coach and she is just the one. Hognob (Nick Park) is the adorable pet sidekick who helps his friend Dug no matter what. He is willing to be a football golly, a spy, a masseuse and most importantly a cuddly friendly pet for his owner. Fun fact: This is the first time that Nick Park will have directed by himself. He is also the producer and a cast member of the film.

Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) is the evil villain who we love to hate. He wants to keep all the land for himself. He also loves bronze coins and uses football games to get people to spend all their money on tickets and things that the games have to offer. One scene that I found to be visually astonishing is the football scene. I love that they spent so much time and effort on this scene and it all pays off in the end. I love the inside jokes that are in this scene and how each of the charters’ personalities shines. Also, when you really think of it the claymation in this scene is just mind-blowing. They had to move each character ever so slightly so they could capture a moment and they do it a million times to complete just this one scene in the entire masterpiece.

I recommend this for ages 5 to 18. Kids will love the silly charters and funny scenes while teens will like the story and relationship that the charters have. This is definitely a film for the entire family because there are jokes and puns for everyone. Also, there is a bit of history so kids will have a bit of education while having a good time. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. It opens in theaters February 16, 2018, so be sure to check it out.

Credit: KIDS FIRST! Photo Credit: Aardman Animations.

Books for Black History Month!

BLACK GIRL MAGIC by Mahogany Browne 
  • Recognized poet Mahogany Browne has come out with an illustrated version of her poem BLACK GIRL MAGIC, an anthem of strength for all beautiful black girls.
  • Much of what 21st-century culture tells black girls isn’t pretty: Don’t wear this; don’t smile at that. And most of all, don’t love yourself.
  • In response to these destructive ideas, Mahogany challenges the conditioning of society by celebrating African American women in all of their unique beauty. She has traveled the world sharing her vision of BLACK GIRL MAGIC, and now in collaboration with artist Jess X. Snow, presents her acclaimed tribute in visual form.
  • Raw and empowering, BLACK GIRL MAGIC is a journey from girlhood to womanhood and an invitation to readers to find the magic within themselves.

I found this an interesting and inspiring book that I recommend for girls middle school through high school.

THE SILENCE OF OUR FRIENDS written by Mark Long and Jim Demonakos; illustrated by Nate Powell 
  • New York Times-bestselling graphic novel based on the true story of two families—one white and one black—who find common ground as the civil rights struggle heats up in Texas.
  • This semi-autobiographical tale is set in 1967. A white family from a notoriously racist neighborhood in the suburbs and a black family from its poorest ward cross Houston’s color line, overcoming humiliation, degradation, and violence to win the freedom of five black college students unjustly charged with the murder of a policeman.
  • The Silence of Our Friends follows events through the point of view of young Mark Long, whose father is a reporter covering the story. Semi-fictionalized, this story has its roots solidly in very real events. With art from the brilliant Nate Powell (March series) bringing the tale to heart-wrenching life, The Silence of Our Friends is a new and important entry in the body of civil rights literature.
  • “Engrossing narrative about race in America, while honestly dealing with a host of other real-world issues, including familial relationships, friendship, dependency, “other”-ness, and perhaps most importantly, the search for common ground.”
    Publishers Weekly
  • “A moving evocation of a tipping point in our country’s regrettable history of race relations, Long and Demonakos’s story flows perfectly in Eisner and Ignatz Award winner Powell’s graceful and vivid yet unpretty black-and-gray wash.”
    Library Journal

My 14-year-old son is currently enjoying reading this book and we recommend for ages 12-18.

Find out more about the above books here.

Self Disclosure: I received copies of the above books to feature in the SoCal City Kids Featured books. We only feature books that we would recommend. Cover images and information also provided. 

The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That: Season 2 – Where Learning is Adventurous, Upbeat and Engaging

Enjoy volume one of the second season of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! follows the adventures of 6-year-old best friends, Sally and Nick, as they are whisked off on extraordinary voyages of scientific discovery with the Cat in the Hat.  Thanks to the Thinga-ma-jigger and our friends, exploring has never been more exciting! In this season set, learn everything from space topics like gravity, what causes day and night, the planets, earth’s atmosphere to all about the human body like why do we sneeze, how and why the heart beats, why our stomach rumbles, how amazing our skin, and how important each different bone is in our body. The discoveries don’t end there though! Embark on more numerous adventures where we learn all about animals such as why animal ears come in many shapes and sizes, how different animals carry their babies, who are the fastest creatures in the world, why male crickets chirp, how polar bears survive the arctic winter, how a snow leopard balances, and so much more! So let’s go, go, go, go on an adventure, we’re flying with The Cat in the Hat today! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Sahiba K. comments, “The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That: Season 2 portrays a dream-like world where learning is adventurous and engaging! Each episode takes you on a ride to a variety of places, some are even out of this world.” Jolleen M. adds, “Everything is upbeat and entertaining plus, you learn lots of new things. Even I learned some new things from these episodes!” See their full reviews below.

The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That: Season 2

By Sahiba K., KIDSFIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That: Season 2 portrays a dream-like world where learning is adventurous and engaging! Each episode takes you on a ride to a variety of places, some are even out of this world. The animation brings you into the realm of Dr. Seuss. I did not want to leave.

The story follows Sally (Alexa Torrington) and Nick (Jacob Ewaniuk) traveling through everyday life, curious and eager to understand the ways of the world. The Cat (Martin Short) always pops in at the right time to help them find the answers to their dilemmas. Together they hop on the Thinga-ma-jigger and fly on adventures to discover wonders.

Martin Short, the voice of the Cat, uses the perfect accent and voice to compliment the Cat’s personality. He emphasizes certain words to achieve the goofiness in his voice. Alexa Torrington and Jacob Ewaniuk are the voices of the children, Sally and Nick, who grasp the innocence and youthful spirit by their voices. Rob Tinkler voices Fish, Thing 1 and Thing 2. The way he changes the tone and pitch of the various voices is quite unique. The voices for Thing 1 and 2 are high pitched and humorous, while the voice for Fish is lower and more serious.

The animation offers a portal into Dr. Seuss’s world. The houses are crooked, yet appealing. The background hills, bushes and trees are slim and tall. The abstract Thinga-ma-jigger flies through the sky with its misshapen helicopter blades and bright red and orange colors.

My favorite part of this show is the Cat’s personality. He brings fun to learning and, when explaining different conceptions, he adds a sense of humor. For example, when explaining that the brain receives and sends signals from the nose, a phone rings in his hat asking for his nose. He is clumsy and modest about being smart. He makes the children laugh and ends each episode with a joke.

The message of this DVD is learning can happen anywhere and is always an adventure. I give this DVD 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 10. It is available now so, be sure to check it out.

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That: Season 2
By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That episodes are very colorful, exciting and educational. This season is no exception! Everything is upbeat and entertaining plus, you learn lots of new things. Even I learned some new things from these episodes!

Season 2 is mostly about science topics. These episodes have lots of songs, jokes and puns, and they can travel anywhere. They can shrink or enlarge themselves to learn about everything. Also, the characters are extremely energetic, which makes you feel energized and uplifted because they are having such a good time.

The voice acting is amazing. All of the characters laugh so much and have a great time. They all sound so happy and amazed at everything they learn. Martin Short, as the voice of The Cat is perfect. His laughs are so contagious and he laughs so often. The children, Sally and Nick (Alexa Torrington and Jacob Ewaniuk) are just as ecstatic and energetic. They laugh a lot as well and are very positive kids. Short, Torrington and Ewaniuk all have wonderful singing voices that enhance the episodes.

The animation in these episodes is bright, colorful and detailed. The animation perfectly suits the educational side of these stories, because you can learn about the object, while seeing it clearly. The music and songs are quite clever and pleasing. The music is a vital part to these episodes.

My favorite episode is “Bounce” because, in that episode they teach many different things besides the topic of rubber. It is interesting to learn everything related to and around rubber.

The message of this DVD is to go outside on adventures, after first asking your parents permission (of course) as Sally and Nick do, and to enjoy what’s around you. The Cat goes to Sally and Nick’s and makes them happy every time by teaching them about their surroundings and showing them around. These episodes inspire you to learn more and shows how learning about new things is fun and exciting.

I give this DVD 5 out to 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 13. It is available now so, definitely go check it out.











Black Panther – Pure Marvel Action/Adventure Steeped in Timely Political and Social Issues

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T’Challa returns home to the reclusive, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as his country’s new leader. However, T’Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the throne from factions within his own country. When two foes conspire to destroy Wakanda, the hero known as Black Panther must team up with C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross and members of the Dora Milaje, Wakandan Special Forces, to prevent Wakanda from being dragged into a world war. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “Honestly, this movie is just amazing. There are so many things this movie does incredibly correctly. This might be one of the greatest Superhero movies of all time!” Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror adds, “The film is pure Marvel action-adventure with a broad political and socially aware feeling. It is awake and unique. It may be a superhero film, yet it is also steeped in real political and social issues similar to those we face today, especially diversity and inclusion.” See their full reviews below.

Black Panther

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

Honestly, this movie is just amazing. There are so many things this movie does incredibly correctly. This might be one of the greatest Superhero movies of all time!

The story is about T’challa, prince of the secluded, incredibly advanced nation of Wakanda, who struggles to defeat an enemy wanting to take his throne. He teams up with some phenomenal females to secure his role as King.

This film is just visually incredible, especially the city of Wakanda. The city looks so amazing. All the buildings and creations are so cool. But that’s not all. The designs of the weapons and spaceships look very realistic and straight up awesome! Kudos to the visual effects team! I also loved the Black Panther suit. I love the idea of the suit absorbing hits into stored kinetic energy and using it as a shockwave like blast. The movie starts with a re-telling of the creation of Wakanda, but it was made out of sand. It looked so cool. In general, the aesthetic nature of this movie is just marvelous.

The nation of Wakanda also has a very interesting culture. I like that it blends futuristic technology with a tribal feel, in terms of the fashions, locations and culture. It may seem like an odd blend, but it works well. Even the music reflects this combination. Speaking of which, the music is also fantastic.

The characters in this film are multi-dimensional. I really enjoyed Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and Black Panther himself (Chadwick Boseman). Plus, Sterling K. Brown (one of my favorite actors) is also in it and, while he has a small part, it is a key role. Hands down, the best characters are the female leads. The Future is Female! And there are some cool dudes. This movie has some wonderful female characters that everyone can look up to such as Danai Gurira, who I already love from AMC’s The Walking Dead, plays the highly skilled warrior Okoye. Letitia Wright plays T’challa’s tech-savvy little sister, Shuri and Lupita Nyong’o plays Nakia. I love these women and I’m sure many young kids will too.

This movie also has very interesting messages. The whole movie presents engaging thoughts on whether or not you should enter in other nation’s affairs and the possible consequences of doing so. This is a pretty intriguing and well done storyline. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18. It opens in theaters February 16, 2018 so go check it out!

Black Panther

By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

In the latest production from Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), we see the original story of the Black Panther. We were introduced to the Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. This film depicts the story of King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and the Black Panther tribe.

When T’Challa returns home to the reclusive, beautiful and technologically impressive nation of Wakanda, a fictional country in Africa, he is named the new leader following the death of his father. True to custom, he is challenged by the tribesman and becomes the new King.

Elsewhere, a cousin unknown to him returns from the United States to challenge T’Challa’s reign, and chaos ensues. Warmonger (Michael B Jordan) and his political beliefs are diabolical and the opposite of T’Challa’s. As foes set forth to destroy Wakanda, Black Panther teams up with a C.I.A. agent and a neighboring tribe to prevent the country from a world war. The path from light to dark, and back to doing good in the world beyond Wakanda is refreshing.

The film is pure Marvel action-adventure with a broad political and socially aware feeling. It is awake and unique. It may be a superhero film, yet it is also steeped in real political and social issues similar to those we face today, especially diversity and inclusion.  The strong female characters – Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Ramonda (Angela Bassett) are phenomenal.

I love this film! From the casting, cinematography and directing, to the special effects and female empowerment, it is fulfilling. The action is believable, many of the fight scenes are based on African martial arts, although the CGI at times is a little whack. Overall, I was displaced, forgetting I was sitting in a theater. The costumes are fantastic with attention to detail befitting royalty. Wakanda forever!

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars for the cast, social and political awareness, technology focus and female empowerment. This film will appeal to ages 8 to 18, as well as adults. I caution younger viewing due to fight scenes which may be disturbing. It opens in theater February 16, 2018 so, check it out!





Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: Rock It to the Moon – Star Trek-ishly Informative and Entertaining

Join Angie and friends as they deal with everything from a remote control dance outfit to gravity to moon rocks and more! Hoping to get on a dance show, Von Bolt wears a remote-control dance outfit. But if he lets someone else dance for him, is he really a winner? Next, the Secret Lab Kids are ready to demo their new science song for web entrepreneur, Mook Zookerboom, when he learns that a satellite is coming down out of orbit, panics and heads for the airport. So the team must gather some data on gravity to convince him to return. Then, when Von Bolt accidentally destroys the museum’s new moon rock, the Secret Lab Kids must find a way to replace it. Guided by fun-loving Edison, Angie and friends will show kids just how fun science can be! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Rohan F. comments, “This is a very educational show. It’s bright, colorful characters and high-level facts make it attractive to most ages.  It manages to be both informative and entertaining.” Talia J. adds, “I am happily surprised by this DVD. I was expecting these episodes to be very child-like and not very humorous. I was very wrong! The episodes kept me interested the entire time.” Damon F. wraps it up with, “


Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: Rock It to the Moon

By Rohan Foxe, KIDSFIRST! Film Critic, age 12

This is a very educational show. It’s bright, colorful characters and high-level facts make it attractive to most ages.  It manages to be both informative and entertaining.

The DVD has eight episodes that follow Angie, Kent, JD and Nicky as they go on adventures using science. The episodes include Dancing Machine, Murphy’s law of Gravity, Rock it to the Moon, Act Your Stone Age, Von Drop-Out, Freaky Furry, The Monster Not Under the Bed and Nanobots Byte. In each episode the Secret Lab Kids, as they’re called, use their hologram projector to visit a scientist from the past. The scientist tells them a bit about his most famous discovery, which gives them a hint to solve the major problem of the episode. I like their decision to use some lesser known scientists such as Thales, instead of just the most famous scientists like Albert Einstein. However, they could have been more diverse in who they chose. Other than the kids, there are no female scientists in the entire episode set.

My favorite episode is Von Drop-Out. Von Bolt is my favorite character on this show. I like him because he is funny and interesting. In this episode, he feels underappreciated and quits. He gets a new job as a rescue robot and the Secret Lab Kids try to find him so they can get him to come back. I like this episode because its explanation on the science of proportion and measurement is easy to understand and is used in the most practical way that could be used by anyone in the real world. Von Bolt is voiced by Dan Russell. I really enjoyed this voice. He manages to show emotion but still keep the voice robotic.

I like how educational this series is. It teaches science, history, technology, math, vocabulary and much more. This isn’t the only thing children might take from these episodes. The educational values are almost over-shadowed by the wacky, unexplained, convenient items the Secret Lab Kids have.

The music on this show is almost better than the show itself. After each episode, there is a song. These songs teach more science than the stories, teach it faster, are equally entertaining and are amazingly well produced. They are, by far, my favorite part of this DVD and the show as a whole. Overall I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 through 14.

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: Rock it to the Moon

By Talia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: Rock it to the Moon is an entertaining DVD gives everyone a better understanding of science.

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: Rock it to the Moon is an animated series of science-themed episodes. The show is about a group of friends who find the famous scientist Thomas Edison’s secret lab. Thomas Edison has made a secret lab where he creates a virtual version of himself and a robot named Van Bolt. The friends embark on fun adventures with one another while at the same time learning valuable scientific knowledge of the world around them.

I am happily surprised by this DVD. I was expecting these episodes to be very child-like and not very humorous. I was very wrong! The episodes kept me interested the entire time. The episodes are rather short which I think is fantastic because it keeps the audience attention the whole time. The episodes are silly, but in a way that got me laughing. These episodes are definitely aimed for much younger audiences. Since I am not in that age range, I did not think I was going to appreciate the humor like a little child would. My expectations were definitely wrong. I absolutely love the little jokes and funny characters. The humor gives these episodes character.

These episodes are perfect for anyone interested in science. What surprised me the most about this DVD is that I didn’t even know most of the science related topics. Some of the topics the episodes discuss are Murphy’s Law of Gravity, fossils, and many more. It is very important for children shows to be both informative and entertaining. Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: Rock it to the Moon definitely incorporates these two ideas beautifully. Each episode helps teach kids that science is actually fun. Perhaps one day it can inspire the next generation of scientists.

I absolutely adore the music in this DVD. There are a total of eight episodes in the DVD. At the end of each episode there is a music video about science. The music is written and produced by Stefanie and Ron Fair. I must say that I am still caught humming some of the tunes. The music is very catchy, and the music videos are entertaining to watch. In the music videos there are always five robots that are doing something crazy. In one episode they float around space and orbit the Earth. The five robots give the music videos a unique touch.

This DVD is a perfect way to introduce children to science. Each episode adds humor and silliness while including a valuable science lesson. I recommend this DVD for anyone between the age of 4 and 9 and give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars. This DVD is out now so go check it out!

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab – Rock It to the Moon

Damon F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab – Rock It to the Moon is a DVD full of episodes about a group of kid scientists who work together on adventures in Thomas Edison’s secret lab. The series is about the group finding problems around their town and solving them by using scientific facts. I always enjoy these episode packs because I like science and they teach us a lot about chemicals and discoveries I didn’t know about before. After every episode there is a song (written by Stefanie and Ron Fair) about the episode that is sung by dancing robots. The songs are very repetitive and younger kids would like that.

The four kid scientists are, Angie (Phillipa Alexander) a modern female version of Thomas Edison, JD (Adam Long), Angie’s brother who  thinks well under pressure, Kent (Shash Hira), who has all kinds of phobias and loves all applications of science,  Nicky,  a scientific genius who is secretly jealous of Angie, and of course Thomas Edison (Livingston Taylor), a hologram of the scientist who is the kids’ inspiring mentor who  doesn’t solve their problems for them, but instead offers advice and guidance.  In the lab they have Edison’s projector which makes his hologram and a virtual reality machine which opens a portal that each episode sends them to a different scientist from the past who teaches them something that will help them solve their current problem. These lessons teach real life facts which I like. This episode pack is about a few of their problems that they solve using all they know about science.

Episodes on this DVD include, Dancing Machines, Murphy’s Law of Gravity, Rock it to the Moon, Act your Stone Age, Von Drop-Out, Freaky Furry, The Monster Not Under the Bed, and Nanobots Byte. My favorite episode is Freaky Furry which is about when Angie accidentally switches brains with her dog during a test. The group must find out what happened and switch the brains back. I like this because it is the only one about the human body which I find fascinating and because I like dogs. My favorite character is Von Bolts, the robot lab assistant, because he is a funny, indestructible machine who features in all the episodes.

The message of this show is that if you work together, you can do anything. I recommend this DVD for ages 4 through 10 because it is funny and very educational but easy to understand. I rate this DVD 4 out of 5 stars because I like to hear facts and some parts are funny. This DVD/Blu-ray is available now so go check it out. This series has its own website called, which you should also look at because it has a lot of added features.