Archives for September 25, 2017

50 Cities of the U.S.A. Explore America's Cities with 50 fact-filled maps by Gabrielle Balkan and Sol Linero


From the team that brought you the 50 States comes 50 Cities of the U.S.A. Explore skyscraper streets, museum miles, local food trucks and city parks from Anchorage to Washington D.C., and discover more than 2,000 facts that celebrate the people, culture, and diversity that have helped make America what it is today.

I had the opportunity to participate in The 50 Cities Blog Extravaganza and I received a copy of this awesome book!

I really enjoyed seeing all the facts about Los Angeles!

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Here are many of the fun facts:

  • BILL PICKETT RODEO This annual rodeo is named for the cowboy entertainer who invented bulldogging a type of steer wrestling.
  • BURRITO This veggie, bean, and cheese-stuffed tortilla takes its name from the Spanish word for “little donkey.”
  • CALIFORNIA SCIENCE CENTER Explore chemical reactions while making glow-in-the-dark slime in the Ooey Gooey Slime Lab here.
  • CHINATOWN A New Year Parade, lantern festival, Moon Festival, and firecracker run and fun walk are some events held here.
  • ECHO MOUNTAIN The Santa Monica Mountains teams with wildlife and runs through LA, giving urban dwellers a unique chance to experience hikes and nature.
  • GRAMMY MUSEUM celebrates the creative process of music with soundboards and costumes, like the light-up suits worn during the Daft Punk-Kayne 2008 GRAMMY performance.
  • HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME Big Bird, Shrek, and The Simpsons are some of the 16 fictional characters celebrated with this entertainment industry star.
  • LA BREA TAR PITS AND MUSEUM Ice Age fossils, like the skeleton of a Harlan’s ground sloth, are found in these still bubbling tar pits.
  • LOS ANGELES FLAG The three stripes of color represent the area’s plentiful olive trees, orange groves, and vineyards.
  • LOS ANGELES MEMORIAL COLISEUM The U.S. won a record 83 gold medals when L.A. Hosted the XXIIIrd Olympic Summer Games in 1984.
  • MEDICAL HISTORY In 1986, ophthalmologist and inventor Dr. Patricia Bath’s made history with her eye surgery patent, becoming the first African American woman with a medical patent.
  • MISSION SAN FERNANDO REY DE ESPAÑA In the 1800s, Spanish Catholics here raised livestock and made rawhide strips, used to build in the absence of nails!
  • MOUNTAIN LIONS Southern California’s largest carnivore lives and hunts in the mountains surrounding LA.
  • MUSCLE BEACH  Before L.A. Had a professional sports team, sports fans hit up the original Muscle Beach in Santa Monica to see incredible feats of athleticism.
  • OLIVE TREES High in healthy fats, these veggies have excellent anti-inflammatory nutrients and are healthy for your heart.
  • PORT OF LOS ANGELES LOBSTER FESTIVAL This annual event has won four Guinness records and raises funds for local charities.
  • RAMEN This Japanese noodle soup is made with tonkatsu (pork)- and shoyo (soy sauce)-based broths.
  • SHANE’S INSPIRATION AT GRIFFITH PARK This Boundless Playground is fully accessible to disabled kiddos and has awesome features for everyone
  • SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET The L.A. coroner’s office sells souvenirs, like a beach towel that features a chalk-outline of a crime scene murder!
  • THE GREAT WALL OF LOS ANGELES Chicana artist Judy Baca, 80 kids,10 artists, and 5 historians painted this, one of the world’s longest murals.
  • THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN This 90-year-old sign has its own security system with helicopter patrols and infrared technology.
  • TRIFORIUM Joseph Young’s 60-ton, 60-foot-tall tower with rainbow prisms and bells was unveiled to great controversy in 1975.
  • URBAN LIGHT Chris Burden’s sculpture contains 200 street lamps from the 1920’s and 1930’s, arranged like a forest.
  • WATTS TOWERS For 33 years, an immigrant construction worker built these 17 structures, decorating them with found objects like ceramic tiles and seashells.
  • WHAM-O The first super ball was made here in 1982, by the same people who make Frisbees and Hula Hoops.

Find out more here!

Self Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book to participate in this Blog Extravaganza. Photos and facts were also provided.

P. King Duckling: Seize The Day – A Plucky Duck and His Friends Seize the Day


Adventure takes flight with the plucky P. King Duckling! Meet P. King, a slightly hapless but intrepid young duck, and his two best friends, Chumpkins (a sarcastic pig) and Wombat (who helps P. King with his schemes even though she knows better)! Together, they work to seize the day: which always leads to wild adventures and hilarious consequences. Created by award-winning Josh Selig (Sesame Street, Wonder Pets!) and featuring music from Grammy winner Marty Beller of They Might Be Giants, P. King Duckling is a wholly satisfying family experience that engages children in problem-solving and creative thinking: all while quacking you up! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “The lessons that P. King Duckling, Wombat and Chumpkins teach are also quite useful. The animation in this show is simple with lots of colors and shapes. It is perfect for kids.” KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror Rachael V. adds, “This is a cute show about a group of friends who take funny adventures and find solutions to problems along the way.” See their full reviews below.

  1. King Duckling: Seize The Day
    By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12


The fun adventures shared here are creative and quite enjoyable. The lessons that P. King Duckling, Wombat and Chumpkins teach are also quite useful. The animation in this show is simple with lots of colors and shapes. It is perfect for kids. It is easy to follow and understand so you can do some of the experiments that they do in your imagination.

My favorite episode is “Wombats Big Surprise!” This episode is so funny and enjoyable because of the humor and how Wombat doesn’t know about her big surprise birthday party. I also love that Chumpkins and P. King Duckling hide things. It also teaches you about patience, which is a difficult lesson.

My favorite character is Wombat (Courtney Shaw). She is smart, creative and likes to help her friends. Wombat knows how to make lots of fun things such as painting pictures. Courtney Shaw voices Wombat and makes her sound very inquisitive and caring. She fills Wombat’s voice with lots of emotion in all the episodes, which is something I admire.  P. King Duckling (Marc Thompson) is very goodhearted and a silly duck who loves adventure. He finds new fun ways of doing things such as cooling the town he lives in during a heat wave, jogging the Great Wall of China and many more that have great moral values. Marc Thompson’s P. King Duckling has an adorable voice that sounds like a nerd which brings P. King Duckling to life and makes him enjoyable.

Chumpkins (Benjie Randall) is a computer geek and loves technology. Chumpkins is proud of this and wears a shirt with a computer on it. Whenever you need something delivered house right away, have Chumpkins order it online. He also knows a lot about gadgets and gizmos so he is the Pig to call. Benjie Randall makes Chumpkins sound older then he is and that is reflected in his personality and makes you believe he is very smart.

Some of the life lessons in this story are about being a good friend, what friendship really is, how to exercise creativity, using your imagination and learn how to work as a team. The lessons are very valuable, because even I forget how to be a good friend sometimes. It is a great reminder about how to be a good friend for older kids while teaching younger kids the basics of friendship.  It reminds you to use your brains and work with others when trying to solve problems.

I recommend this DVD for ages 4 to 8. Even tweens and teens will benefit from it the life lessons are priceless and everyone will enjoy the characters with their quacky, quirk personalities. I give this DVD 5 out of 5 Quacking Ducks. This is available now on DVD so, check it out. You’ll be glad you did.

  1. King Duckling: Seize the Day
    By Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

This is a cute show about a group of friends who take funny adventures and find solutions to problems along the way. P. King is a funny duckling who constantly gets the group into trouble with his big adventures. Luckily, he has two friends that help keep him centered and out of trouble. There’s Wombat who always supports P. King’s decisions and Chumpkins, an attitude-riddled pig who is the muscle of the group. He is my personal favorite because he is funny and sarcastic all the time. This trio deals with the bad guy, Greg the Goose and teaches us that there are many creative solutions to even the smallest of problems. My 19-month-old absolutely loves this program. The art style reminds me of Phineas and Ferb. I recommend this DVD for ages 3 to 7 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. My only complaint is its lack of story depth. Everything is over simplified, which is expected for the target age group, but I wanted more.



L.A. Zoo Safari Days Select Dates from September 21, 2017 to April 2, 2018 9 am – 4 pm Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

026 ZooCamp16-Jamie Pham

Each Safari Day offers a fun-filled day of exploration through the Los Angeles Zoo led by an adventure “specialist” that will help create an unforgettable and wild experience for every participant. Instead of working on sight words, young guests will have animal sightings; instead of reading comprehension, children will help others comprehend their discoveries by sharing stories about what they saw and did. Bring a backpack, lunch, and some safari gear to join us at the Zoo. All dates correspond to certain LAUSD unassigned days and/or holidays. Safari Days are for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. Morning and afternoon extended care is available for an additional cost. Dates include: September 21, 2017, Thanksgiving week— November 10, 20, 21, 22, 2017, Martin Luther King Jr. Day—January 15, 2018February 19, 2018, and April 2, 2018.

“We’re pleased to present this brand new programming that we hope will provide engaging educational opportunities for youngsters from kindergarten through sixth grade,” explains Education Manager Heather Shields. “Safari Days will complement classroom learning by giving students a chance to exercise their observational skills out in the Zoo, and then take those observations and communicate them with others as stories. We’re looking forward to this new experience as a way to extend our reach to help meet the needs of schools and families—part of our mission as a classroom without borders.”

Please make sure to check your child’s school calendar before registering. Space is limited, so register today at Price is $75 per child. GLAZA members save $5 per child.

Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the landmark Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, drawing 1.8 million visitors each year, is home to a diverse collection of 1,100 animals representing 250 different species, many of which are rare or endangered. Its lush grounds on 113 acres feature a botanical collection comprising over 800 different plant species with approximately 7,000 individual plants. The Zoo is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. Admission is $21 for adults and $16 for children ages 2 to 12. The Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.daily. For information, call (323) 644-4200 or visit the L.A. Zoo Web site at

Credit: Los Angeles Zoo. Photo Credit: Jamie Pham.

Brigsby Bear – Dramatic comedy with strange, yet fresh approach


Brigsby Bear Adventures is a children’s TV show produced for an audience of one: James. When the show abruptly ends, James’s life changes forever, and he sets out to finish the story himself. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tristan T. comments, “I expected to be bored, but instead I found this film highly entertaining and moving at times. Although it is definitely odd and had me asking lots of questions at the beginning, it is well done and I will probably go see this film again once it’s released in theaters.” See his full review below.


Brigsby Bear


By Tristan Tierce, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14



Brigsby Bear is a dramatic comedy with a strange, yet fresh new approach. I expected to be bored, but instead I found this film highly entertaining and moving at times. Although it is definitely odd and had me asking lots of questions at the beginning, it is well done and I will probably go see this film again once it’s released in theaters.


James (Kyle Mooney) lives in an underground bunker with his kidnapper “parents.” We quickly learn of his obsession with “Brigsby,” a television series about a bear and his adventures. Once he is rescued from his capturers, he attempts to survive in this massive new world, only to learn that his treasured show is not real. As he struggles to reinvent “Brigsby Bear,” he ends up not only completing the show’s story, but also finding completion to his own.


Star Wars fans will be interested to see their beloved Mark Hamill in a totally different role here. He plays the kidnapper, Ted Hope. I have to say, he completely nails the character and, with his grungy looking beard, I almost did not recognize him.


My favorite character is James. He plays a very quirky, awkward young man. He is inspiring and makes you feel an immediate connection. I not only found myself intrigued by his story, but cheering for him to achieve his goal. I like how, even though he grows throughout the film, his character never truly changes. Others ultimately accept him for who he is. This is something I would like to see in real life.


This film is rated PG-13 due to a few sexual references and some mature content although nothing is over-the-top. I rate this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to kids ages 13 to 18. It opens in theaters September 21, 2017. You should definitely go grab some friends and check it out.



Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Releases Dan Zanes and Friends’ Lead Belly, Baby!


As a young boy, GRAMMY-winning children’s artist Dan Zanes was drawn to the music of Lead Belly in all of its magic, imagination, and mystery. This discovery completely changed his view of the world and his place in it. Zanes now presents a fresh vision of Lead Belly’s music for a new generation with a little help from his friends. Experience Lead Belly’s songs through a new lens as Dan Zanes and Valerie June, Chuck D., Billy Bragg, Aloe Blacc, and many others celebrate an American musical icon.


The album, Lead Belly, Baby! will be available on Friday, August 25. It includes a colorful 40 page booklet with full lyrics and liner notes by Zanes and Jeff Place, the Senior Curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections.

More about Dan Zanes


Called “the family-music genre’s most outspoken and eloquent advocate” byTime magazine, Zanes, a New Hampshire native who made several albums as a member of the Del Fuegos during the ’80s, has been performing for families since releasing ‘Rocket Ship Beach’ in 2000. With his band, Dan Zanes and Friends, he has released more than a dozen albums and has toured the world sharing handmade 21st-century social music with enthusiastic crowds of kids and kid sympathizers. His ‘Catch That Train!’ won a Grammy for Best Musical Album for Children in 2007.


Zanes and his fiancée, Claudia Eliaza, are pioneers in the sensory-friendly performance movement. The Kennedy Center recently commissioned the two to create the first sensory-friendly folk opera, “Night Train 57,” slated to premiere in October. “For me, the folk experience is about inclusion and participation – welcoming people in,” Zanes says. “The spirit of Lead Belly’s music that affected me as a 7-year-old drives me to want to create and present in a sensory-friendly atmosphere today.” In addition to making other national performances of Night Train 57, Zanes will tour as “The Lead Belly Project” beginning in fall 2017.


Credit: Sugar Mountain PR.

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