Archives for June 5, 2017

A collection of summery road trip tunes from top family music artists Download the list for free via Soundcloud, during June 5 to 11.

A collection of new songs from some of the top artists in independent family music. The list includes classics and original songs, including some never released before! This playlist is sure to spark family sing-alongs on road trips and rainy staycation days this summer.
Please support artists buy purchasing their music. Here they are in alphabetical order:
  • Jazzy Ash  – – “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain.” A touring artist steeped in the early roots traditions of American music, including that of New Orleans. Her next album will be “Swing Set,” coming on July 21.
  • Dana’s Music Playground – – “Five Green and Speckled Frogs.” This mutliply award-winning artist wants kids to get up and move to the music. Her new album is “Dana’s Best Jump and Jam Tunes”
  • Little Miss Ann and Amy D – – “Senses Song” – These teaching artists from the Old Town School of Folk Music present a sweet and singable song to celebrate sensory explorations of the world. It’s from their new and acclaimed album “Keep On.”
  • Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band – – “Paletero Man” – From the forthcoming album “Made in LA,” this Latin Grammy and Emmy winning and internationally touring bilingual band serves up a tasty-icy treat of a song about a hero of the barrio.
  • Tim Kubart – – “Superhero 2017 Remix” 2016 Grammy Award winner and Sprout TV host just released this remix of his kid anthem. Catch him on TV and on tour this summer.
  • Lisa Loeb – – “Moon Star Pie” – One of the best-loved songwriters and authors, Lisa reminds us all that “you can make anything you dream,” and “It’s Gonna Be All Right.” The tune is from Lisa’s Parents’ Choice Gold Award winning new album “Feel What Feel,”
  • Red Yarn –  – “Mockingbird” – This rollicking, harmonica-powered rocker will make any parent smile. And,  kids will love the call-and-response invitations in this song from the new album “Born in the Deep Woods.”
  • Justin Roberts – – “Rolling Down the Hill” –  This Grammy nominated artist’s songwriting powers are in full force on this song about enjoying the moment. It’s from his new and Parents’ Choice Gold Award winning album “Lemonade.”
  • Danny Weinkauf Red Pants Band – – “Transportation” Never before released, this brightly harmonic song from a forthcoming 2017 album kicks off summer with a 60s-esque rocking traveling song.

Check it out!

Credit: Sugar Mountain PR.

Wonder Woman – Lives Up to Its Hype


Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers and her true destiny. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B., comments, “I can say that it is absolutely amazing! It definitely lives up to its potential.” Miles T. adds, “Wonder Woman caught me off guard. I thought it would be a girly movie about her trying to go against gender issues. But that is not the case.” Benjamin P. wraps it up with, “Wonder Woman is a defining example of a great superhero movie. While the movie struggles in its final act, it still delivers compelling action, great directing and good performances.” See their full reviews below.


Wonder Woman
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13




When this movie was announced, I was super excited, but at the same time, skeptical. Because all the recent DC Movies didn’t live up to all the hype. However, once I sat down in the theatre, all comfortable with my popcorn and icee and watched the film, I can say that it is absolutely amazing! It definitely lives up to its potential. Once the movie was over, I started clapping and, after I left the theatre, I realized my hands were red because I had clapped so hard.


The story of this film starts on Themyscira, an island cloaked from society and home to the Amazons. Diana, Princess of the Amazons, finds an allied spy who washed on shore named Steve Trevor. He tells her about the horrors of World War l and she decides to join him to stop The War to End All Wars.


Gal Gadot plays Wonder Woman and, oh my gosh, she is awesome! She is courageous and fierce, but also intelligent and empathetic. She is the perfect role model for every little girl. She is the iconic Wonder Woman! But in all seriousness, all the actors are awesome and really likeable. One particular character that didn’t get enough screen time was Steve’s secretary, Eta Candy, played by Lucy Davis. She is really funny and has some great one liners. She really deserved more time to shine.


The special effects and fight scenes are also extraordinary. During most of the action scenes, I found myself leaning forward, wide-eyed and gripping my seat. Unlike Batman V Superman or Suicide Squad, I could actually SEE what was happening! To me, the best scene in the movie is when Diana, Steve and his crew lead an invasion of a German controlled town and liberate it. The action is so exciting and, when the Wonder Woman theme starts playing, I literally started smiling until the scene was over.


Surprisingly, this film is also extremely hilarious. I was laughing for a good chunk of time. The humor mainly comes from Diana’s lack of knowledge of our civilization. There’s a really funny scene where Eta tries to give Diana a normal outfit and she kicks and rips the skirt.


I definitely give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. This movie opens in theatres on June 2, 2017. I could say I recommend this movie for comic book fans, but honestly everyone should see this movie. Wonder Woman is an iconic role model and Gal Gadot definitely lives up to the part. Director Patty Jenkins lassoed this hit film and I love that a woman directed it – Girl Power! That’s the truth.



Wonder Woman

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

Wonder Woman is a defining example of a great superhero movie. While the movie struggles in its final act, it still delivers compelling action, great directing and good performances.


Gal Gadot plays Diana, the princess of an island called Themiscyra, inhabited by Amazon warriors. As a child, she is taught to be a fierce warrior. One day, a plane crashes just offshore. The pilot is a spy named Steve Trevor, who is trying to escape the German army after stealing their secrets. Diana saves him from the wreckage. Soon, German troops besiege the island in search of Steve. After a clash between the Amazons and the troops, Steve warns Diana and her people of a war in the outside world. Her strong urge to help others leads her to follow Steve to the frontlines to end the conflict. As her journey continues, she must embrace her destiny and become the hero she was born to be.


Gal Gadot is very good as Diana a.k.a. Wonder Woman. There is something very generous and kind about her character. Gadot is convincing as a strong female heroine who cares deeply about the lives of others and is willing to risk her own to save them. This character make a great role model, someone ready to spring into action to fight for things such as justice and freedom, but also some who cares about other people. Gadot studied a lot of martial arts and other training to prepare for this film and it certainly pays off in the thrilling action scenes. She carries the movie very well and I hope to see her in more DC films.


Diana’s fish-out-of-water dynamic is explored to great effect for some good laughs. She has little knowledge of life beyond the island. Her reactions and conversations in the outside world are very funny. She also has enjoyable banter with Steve Trevor.


Director Patty Jenkins had a very clear vision of what she wanted the film to look like and it translates to the screen very well. She shot it on a very epic scale and used techniques like shooting on film instead of digital to get the grainy feel of the World War I era. This makes for a more real cinematic experience.


One of my main criticisms of the film is its third act. The first two thirds are near perfect. The final act almost descends into a dumb, explosion-filled mess, but redeems itself in a way that doesn’t ruin the first two acts for me. I recommend Wonder Woman for ages 12 to 18 due to some violence and language and give it . It opens in theaters June 2 so, go check it out.


Wonder Woman

By Miles T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Wonder Woman caught me off guard. I thought it would be a girly movie about her trying to go against gender issues. But that is not the case. It fits right in with the other superhero movies. This movie starts off with the characteristic young kid that has a burning fire within them. She grows up and becomes strong. Then she goes out into the real world. It, along with the other origin story films, is a great example of a really good movie.


Wonder Woman instantly became one of my favorite superhero movies because, when there is action, you can actually follow it. Let me explain. Some movies (James Bond) are really difficult to follow when there is action. Because of constant quick editing and constant changes in shots and angles, it becomes really hard to understand the action or see what you are looking at. That is not the case with this film. However complicated the fight scenes are, you can understand what she does and follow her movements. In order to do this, the movie utilized slow motion. It’s not annoying. I kind of liked it, but it happens a lot.


Not only does action dominate the movie, but every second of the movie has a well placed shot. What I’m saying is that the camera angles are amazing throughout and the whole movie looks fantastic. In this way, thankfully, the movie does not follow the usual way of things. There is, let’s just say it, a totally boss battle where they could have easily taken a wide angle shot. And they do, but only for a second. And, the rest is fabulous to watch.


Wonder Woman is played by Gal Gadot. Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis), Steve (Chris Pine) and basically all the other actors are amazing. Every character is necessary and the movie would be poorer without any one of them. Not that I didn’t hate any of the characters. Of course there are ones that the movie wants me to hate. But they are all well built and quite lively. They seem to fit like gloves to the time and place of when the film takes place. This brings me to the sets. Every set looks like they just barged into real and existing buildings and started filming. This realism is especially challenging since it’s set during WW I. The locations and sets make sense and the way the filming is done made me want to visit them. The green screen work is especially amazing because they did not scream “look at me!” Instead, they are just backgrounds and are very believable. So much so that, if I hadn’t known these settings exist I would not think anything was fishy about the backgrounds.


My favorite part of the film is the scene when Wonder Woman jumps out of the trenches and single handedly fights the opposing side. My second favorite is when she completely demolishes an entire building. Yeah, she does not kid around.


This movie also explores working with the obvious feminist issues. After all, this is a female superhero! They depict a very strong character, just like all other superheroes, and they are able to add some humor as well. Throughout the movie everyone underestimates and doubts her because she is a girl. Ha! She creams everyone else. Unfortunately, at the very end, the movie pops the great feministic bubble they created by getting sappy and making Wonder Woman say that love is the answer. *POP*


I recommend this movie for ages 7 to 18 and adults will love it too. I say age 7 because, what kid above 5 doesn’t see action movies these days? But if you are one of those parents who doesn’t let their kids see these types of superhero movies, this one has is rated PG-13. I caught no cursing. There is one sexual statement that will go unnoticed by kids who aren’t already knowledgeable about that. I this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars, because the ending is girlish. Everything is great besides that though. It opens nationwide in theaters June 2, 2017 so, go check it out.





Nine Weeks of Ad-Free Stories, Games and Activity Ideas, as part of Cricket Media’s Keeping Tech in Check Initiative, Available FREE to Everyone Via


Research shows that just two or three hours a week of reading helps stop the “summer slide,” where children lose months of academic achievement through inactivity. This summer, families everywhere are invited to discover a world of adventure and learning with Cricket Media’s free BUG CAMP 2017.  Created with engaging content from Cricket Media’s award-winning and ad-free magazines for children and teens, BUG CAMP offers an interactive way to get the family reading and stop the summer slide!


Launching on on June 5, Cricket Media’s BUG CAMP 2017 will offer nine weeks of reading-focused fun, from downloadable stories and games, to recipes and easy craft ideas, and outdoor activities, all crafted by Cricket Media magazine editors for various age and grade levels.  From Day #1, kids may download the colorfully illustrated story, “A Day at the Pond” (originally published in CLICK magazine) and learn all about the animals, plants and environment in a summery pond through the week. Other weekly themes will include

“My Backyard,” “Travel,” “Sports,” “The Environment,” “Fourth of July,” “The Beach,”

“Gardening,” “Art” and “Night/Camping/Hiking”.  Kids, parents, and caregivers may grab great ideas to fill their summer days with engaging activities tied to each week’s reading, like making a water scope to view pond life, playing a “Nature Detective Bingo” game, or making dragonflies out of pretzels.


BUG CAMP 2017 is a feature of Cricket Media’s new Keeping Tech in Check initiative, launched this spring in conjunction with the Parents’ Choice Foundation.  A “Random Activity Generator” at will lead to even more ideas for family activities this summer. With the tagline, “a balance, not a ban,” Keeping Tech in Check offers a wealth of tools, tips and resources to help families find the right balance between technology and real-life experiences.


Also in June, Cricket Media joins with PBS Parents to help bridge the summer learning gap through PBS’ annual summer learning initiative, “Summer of Adventure.” Families may download Cricket Media’s free “My Nature Journal” at PBS Parents’ summer site:


As a special deal to get summer reading rolling, Cricket Media is offering a “3 for 5” magazine exclusive subscription deal, available only from Cricket’s online store. Families may order 3 magazines for $5, for a limited time, from



Cricket Media, Inc. is an education media company that provides award-winning content on a safe and secure learning network for children, families, and teachers across the world. Cricket Media’s 11 popular media brands for toddlers to teens include Babybug®, Ladybug®, Cricket® and Cobblestone™. The Company’s innovative web-based K12 tools for school and home include CricketTogether™, an employee engagement eMentoring program that builds literacy and problem-solving skills that expand students’ world views as well as the ePals community and virtual classroom for global collaboration. Cricket Media serves millions of teachers, students and parents in over 200 countries and territories through its platform and NeuPals, its joint venture with China’s leading IT services company Neusoft. Cricket Media also licenses its content and platform to top publishing and educational companies worldwide. For more information, please visit

Photo:Bug Camp bug by artist Michael Chesworth.



Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie – An Unexpectedly Enjoyable Family Film


George Beard and Harold Hutchins are two overly imaginative pranksters who spend hours in a treehouse creating comic books. When their mean principal threatens to separate them into different classes, the mischievous boys accidentally hypnotize him into thinking that he’s a ridiculously enthusiastic, incredibly dimwitted superhero named Captain Underpants. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic By Benjamin P. comments, “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is an unexpectedly enjoyable family film filled with inventive animation, hilarious humor and charming characters.” Alejandra G. adds, “I freaked out when I went to see this film because I have been a loyal fan reading all the Captain Underpants stories and books since I was little. I’m so happy that they have brought these books to life and have taken another step to continue the story of the series.” Tristan T. wraps it up with, “What I appreciate about this film is the ongoing theme of friendship and the fun of using your imagination.” See their full reviews below.


Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

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



Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is an unexpectedly enjoyable family film filled with inventive animation, hilarious humor and charming characters. An adaptation of the bestselling book series by Dav Pilkey and directed by David Soren, this film chronicles George and Harold, two best friends who love mischief and making comics. Their mean principal Mr. Krupp finally catches them pulling a prank and vows to wipe out their friendship by placing them in separate classes.


George and Harold retaliate by placing Krupp in a trance and they turn him into their signature superhero created for their own comic books, Captain Underpants. George and Harold know how to bring Mr. Krupp back but realize that if they do, he’ll separate them. As Captain Underpants struggles to pretend to be a principal, danger looms over the school in the form of a mysterious new science teacher with an evil hidden agenda.


This film is a pleasant surprise. It dives more into the friendship between George (Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch) than the books do and sidelines Captain Underpants (Ed Helms) to a smaller role. Readers know and love the character of Captain Underpants and may be angered by this decision. By giving you more exposition about Harold and George, the film makes itself more accessible to those who have not read the books. This film is quite different from the books, but has enough callbacks to its source material to still feel linked to it.


The animation is very colorful, bursting with bright and warm colors that will be very appealing to younger audiences. I appreciate the different animation styles used to showcase George and Harold’s infinite imaginations. It’s very creative and makes it stand out from other animated films.


This film is very funny. It’s surprisingly clever for a movie with “underpants” in the title. It’s a film that will have the whole audience laughing. These laughs are well-earned and come at a good pace.


I give Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie an age rating of 4 to 12 for some crude humor. The lesson is never let anyone change who you are. Our heroes constantly see their ideas and creativity challenged and destroyed by Mr. Krupp. He never lets them be creative and instead resorts to confiscating all their comics because he doesn’t appreciate them. Having an imagination is an important part of growing up and helps George and Harold solve their problems. I rate this film 3.5 out of 5 stars. It opens in theaters June 2, 2017 so be sure to go check it out.


Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
By Alejandra G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

I freaked out when I went to see this film because I have been a loyal fan reading all the Captain Underpants stories and books since I was little. I’m so happy that they have brought these books to life and have taken another step to continue the story of the series. This film is extremely well illustrated. The animations are very well designed and very realistic.

The film is about two overly imaginative children named George and Harold, who hypnotize their principal into thinking he’s the incredible superhero they created named Captain Underpants. Along with this comes event after event that makes this adventure unforgettable for these children as they accomplish their dreams watching their very own superhero come to life.


My favorite scene is when they first hypnotize the principal and start playing with him. For example, they tell him to turn into a chicken, a dolphin and many more things. While doing this, they have an awesome idea that will change their lives forever. Bring the superhero they made to life and achieve their goal of watching their invention live. So they tell him to turn into Captain Underpants and they freak out and get very excited. I love this scene because it shows the creativity these two kids have and how they think. It also shows how the makers of the film are so creative at developing the storyline. They could have just made the film based on one of the books, but instead, they go out of their way to create a more interesting plot that makes the film truly stand out!


The important message that I gleaned from this film is to never underestimate the power of laughter. We may view a bad situation or a problem with a bad attitude or with sadness. If we deal with the problem with a bad attitude, the result will not be good.  But if we look at it from a positive point of view, the result will be better and greater. I believe it’s awesome that they teach little kids this message. It’s something they can learn and grow up with and eventually apply it to their own life! I rate the film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 13. You can watch this film in theaters starting June 2 so be sure to check it out!


Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

By Tristan T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14


Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is sure to kick off many kids’ summer breaks with lots of laughs (especially if potty jokes are funny to you). I was never a fan of the Captain Underpants books, so I have to say I am not a big fan of this film.  I feel it lacks plot and humor.


What I appreciate about this film is the ongoing theme of friendship and the fun of using your imagination.  Best friends, Harold and George grow a strong friendship through making comic books and pulling pranks at their “boring” elementary school.  Through some odd force, their comic book hero, Captain Underpants, comes to life.  He soon helps the boys rid the school of an even greater threat than their school principal, Professor Poopypants.


This feature animation from DreamWorks has a great voice-over cast.  This, by the way, is my favorite part of the film.  Kevin Hart plays one of the main characters, George Beard.  But, my favorite character is his partner in prank-playing crime, Harold Hutchins (Thomas Middleditch).  This character is very relatable, funny and true.  And, since I like drawing and illustrating, I found an instant connection with him.


Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is written by Nicholas Stoller, although it is based on the Epic Novels by Dav Pilkey.  You might remember Nicholas Stoller from previous screenplays he has written, including Storks, The Muppets and Gulliver’s Travels – to name a few.  The movie is right in line with the books and gives you insight into the concept origin.


My favorite part is Harold and George’s tree-house.  This is where the friends spend so much time developing their comic books.  It is such a cool tree house with so many moving parts. It made me want to go home and add to my own.


This film is rated PG for mild rude humor.  If you are a fan of the Captain Underpants books, you will enjoy this film.  I recommend it for ages 4 to 11 and I give it 2.5 out of 5 stars.  Catch it in theaters everywhere, June 2.