Archives for February 22, 2015

McFarland, USA – Inspiring and Dramatic Story About Unlikely Champions


A cross country coach in a small California town transforms a team of athletes into championship contenders. More than just physical prowess drives the teens to succeed; their strong family ties, incredible work ethic and commitment to their team all play a factor in forging these novice runners into champions. KIDS FIRST! Critic Gerry Orz comments, “This movie is truly an inspirational story for anyone who watches. McFarland USA will keep everyone on the edge of their seats.” Kayla P. adds, “The message of this film is to not judge a book by its cover.” See their full reviews below.

McFarland, USA
Reviewed by Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Critic, age 12


This movie is truly an inspirational story for anyone who watches. McFarland USA will keep everyone on the edge of their seats.

McFarland USA will make you cry, laugh and more. It is a compelling film based on a true story that is full of drama and a solid feeling of inspiration. However, there is a hint of comedy to brighten things up and a spice of thrill that will keep you engaged throughout the movie.

The story starts when a family moves to a very poor town in central California called McFarland. Track coach Jim White (Kevin Costner) is a newcomer to a predominately Latino high school in California’s Central Valley. He quickly notices that the kids there are faster than he has ever seen and turns the fastest boys into a cross country track team. The movie covers the relationship between the coach and the boys, his relationship with his family and the adventure the boys and the coach go through as they try to win the state cross country championship.

This movie is truly compelling and inspiring. After seeing it I had an urge to do more. It has a fantastic mix between concentrating on the coach’s story but also looks at each person on the team, which I think was a fantastic decision. The acting is impressive especially since some of the actors had never even acted before and some of them actually grew up in McFarland.

My favorite scene is when they have a one on one race with another school. Once the two teams start running, the opposing coach starts teasing Coach White. However, after the team’s fastest player, Thomas (Carlos Pratts) finishes first, he brings back all that teasing but in a very classy way. I love this scene because it shows that the team was looked down on but they rose above the torment and tease and truly believed in themselves and a better future for themselves.

This film has a lot of mature moments that may be a bit too much for younger kids, so I give it an age rating of 10 to18. I also give it 5 out of 5 stars for a truly inspiring and fantastic film.
McFarland, USA

by Kayla Powell, KIDS FIRST! Critic, Age: 13



McFarland, USA is a wonderful family drama based on a true story from 1987.


McFarland, USA is about a coach who gets fired from his job due to inappropriate and harsh behaviors towards his colleagues and students. Coach White (Kevin Costner) and his family have to relocate to McFarland, a town populated by farm growers.  McFarland is the only place Coach White is able to find a job as a PE teacher and assistant football coach. He notices that a few of the kids are  very fast runners. Coach White learns that there is a state wide cross country tournament. When coaching football fails, he decides to form a cross country team. He trains the kids to compete at different tournaments with hopes of taking them to the state championship to win money for the school.  During the journey of preparing the team, Coach White, his family and the teammates learn an important lesson of dedication and commitment.


My favorite character is Danny Diaz, (Ramiro Rodriguez). He is focused and a determined member on the cross country team. Although he is not one of the fastest runners, he learns to never quit no matter how far behind he is and to keep pushing.


The message of this film is to not judge a book by its cover. When the McFarland team travels to different tournaments, some of the competitors pick on them because they are different and do not have the newest clothes or shoes like everyone else. Most of the other racers, as well as the other coaches, make fun of the McFarland team. They all learn not to underestimate anyone by merely judging them by their outward appearance.


My favorite part is when Jim White, Kevin Costner, tries to plan a Quinceaňera  for his daughter. He sends his wife and daughters away to the salon and goes outside to plan the party with Senor Diaz (Omar Leyva).  As Coach White tells Senor Diaz how to prepare for the party, Senor Diaz tells Coach White to sit down and says,  “we are the Indians, not the chiefs.” Once Coach White sits down, a group of women come in and tell the men what they need to do.


McFarland, USA is a wonderful movie great for the entire family.  I recommend this movie for kids and teens ages 8 – 18 years old. I give this movie 5 out of 5 golden stars. McFarland will be in theaters February 20, 2015.



You can make the difference for a shelter pet today! The Shelter Pet Project

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Each year approximately 3-4 million pets are adopted from shelter and rescue groups, but 2.4 million healthy and treatable pets still need our help to find a home each year. I’m reaching out to you on behalf of The Shelter Pet Project, a collaborative effort between The Humane Society of the United States, Maddie’s Fund®, and the Ad Council, to ask for your support.

The goal of The Shelter Pet Project is to make shelters and rescue groups the first place people turn when looking to get a new pet.

Actress Bellamy Young, who plays First Lady Mellie Grant on ABC’s “Scandal,” in partnership with the Shelter Pet Project, stars in a new online video featuring her adopted dog Bean and adopted cat Sadie. The video helps break down misconceptions surrounding shelter pets and spreads the word that pets in shelters are wonderful and loveable.

In the video, Bellamy says, “Adoption is very near and dear to my heart” and encourages those who are thinking about pet adoption to take the next step and experience a “love unlike anything you’ve ever known.”

Visit, where they you can “meet” shelter pets through an interactive experience, search for a dog or cat from a local shelter or rescue group, read adoption success stories, and learn valuable information about pet adoption.

Credit: The Shelter Pet Project.

Introducing A Friend-Powered Recommendation Site That Makes Moms' Lives Easier


Momstamp is a new technology platform that allows parents to connect with their extended friend networks to find local service providers.  Momstamp is Angie’s List and Yelp meets Facebook.


The goal of Momstamp is to make parents’ lives easier. Parents are able to search, organize, and save the names of recommended service providers quickly and efficiently.  Imagine getting plumber, pediatric dentist, and math tutor recommendations not from strangers you know little about, but from your friends, or your friend’s friends.  Those recommendations are truly invaluable.


According to co-founder Paulette Light, “Momstamp provides a technology solution to what we do every day – get recommendations from our friends.  We knew there had to be a better answer than unorganized mass emails, lost sticky-notes, or buried Facebook posts.  Momstamp provides structure, ease, and convenience around word of mouth recommendations.”


Momstamp was created by three moms with ten kids between them and all with equally impressive resumes.  Having graduated from Columbia, Harvard and with an MBA from Wharton, Paulette Light was featured in Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive and on the Katie Couric Show. Staci Miller a graduate from The Wharton School of Business and with an MBA from Harvard Business School, was the VP of Operations & Strategy at Warner Brothers Online, overseeing design, project management, engineering, and advertising sales for the studio’s online business.  Julie Hermelin is an expert in content and branding in the parent space and is an acclaimed director, producer and writer.  She created the brand launch for The Mother Company and recently directed the Ms. Foundation’s Gloria Steinem special.


“Moving through each milestone in our families’ lives – from decorating a baby’s first nursery, to finding summer camps, to managing our children’s doctors, to remodeling a kitchen – can be both exciting and very overwhelming.  Having the support and recommendations of your friend community is very powerful,” says Staci Miller, co-founder of

Note from SoCal City Kids Publisher: I briefly checked out this website and believe that it will be very helpful for Moms!




Little Miss Sure Shot: Annie Oakley’s World Novel Brings Annie Oakley to Life Little Miss Sure Shot: Annie Oakley’s World by Jeffrey Marshall


Annie Oakley wasn’t a tomboy, but a rather prim and religious woman with a loving 50-year marriage. She was intent on appearing young, and when challenged by a younger woman performer, had publicists change her birth date to make herself younger. Blessed with long chestnut hair, she was horrified when her hair turned white literally overnight following a serious railroad accident.


These are among the true events and insights woven into Jeffrey Marshall’s historical novel about the legendary sharpshooter, Little Miss Sure Shot: Annie Oakley’s World (CreateSpace; May 2014; Paperback $8.95; eBook $3.95). The novel looks episodically at her amazing life, imagining many events and settings through conversations, meetings with famous figures such as P.T. Barnum, Queen Victoria and Thomas Edison, and places Annie could have seen and experienced.


Much of Little Miss Sure Shot is focused on Annie’s starring role in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, which catapulted her to international fame in the late 1880s. Buffalo Bill Cody himself is an important figure in the novel – but far more central is Annie’s husband and manager of 50 years, Frank Butler. Their loving marriage was far and away the most important relationship in Annie’s life – and very unlike the depiction of their courtship in the musical Annie Get Your Gun.


Born poor on the Ohio frontier on the cusp of the Civil War, Annie never had a formal education but thrived on the grace of her prodigious shooting talent. Oakley’s legend lives on to this day, even though the height of her fame goes back well over a century. She maintained her amazing shooting skills even into the last years of her life, and like Amelia Earhart, was a woman ahead of her time – competing and making an indelible mark in a field dominated by men. The novel explores and celebrates Annie’s skill, some of the records she set, and her fortitude in recovering from a pair of serious accidents.


Little Miss Sure Shot is a quick and breezy read that strives to entertain readers with a compelling narrative that allows them to step back into the past and experience the places and events that shaped her life.

I received a copy of this book and found it a rather interesting read. I really enjoyed it since Annie Oakley was a favorite of mine when I was in middle school. A Must-Read!


About the Author

Jeffrey Marshall is a writer, poet and retired journalist. This is his first novel but third book, having published a business book on community reinvestment more than 20 years ago and a volume of collected poetry, River Ice, in 2009. He has an undergraduate degree in history from Princeton and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern. A resident of Scottsdale, AZ, he is a board member of the Desert Foothills Land Trust in Carefree, AZ.


Title:                Little Miss Sure Shot: Annie Oakley’s World

Author:           Jeffrey Marshall

Pages:             147

ISBN:               978-0-9845-5060-0

eBook ISBN:   978-1-3110-5771-6

Available in Paperback $8.95 on Amazon /

Available as an eBook $3.95

Self Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book to facilitate this feature.