Archives for November 15, 2017

LA Children’s Chorus Rings in Holidays at Disney Hall Dec. 3

159 LACC-Jamie Pham

Los Angeles Children’s Chorus (LACC), one of the world’s foremost children’s choirs, rings in the holidays with special guest, Grammy Award-winning opera singer Susan Graham, and members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a concert featuring the world premiere of Los Angeles-based composer Paul Gibson’s Ring Out, Wild Bells – based on Tennyson’s beloved poem and arranged for chorus, organ, strings and handbells – as well as a range of sublime classical works, joyful holiday carols and poignant readings on Sunday December 3, 2017, 7 pm, at Walt Disney Concert Hall, as part of the LA Philharmonic’s prestigious “Sounds About Town” series.  LACC Artistic Director Anne Tomlinson leads the program of musical selections interspersed with readings drawn from such universal themes as creation, hope and change by ee cummings, Kenneth Grahame, Theodore Roethke, Robert Louis Stevenson, St. Francis of Assisi and Fra Giovanni Giocondo.


“This evening of music and poetry was inspired by ‘A Festival of Lessons and Carols,’ a cherished annual Christmas Eve tradition introduced in 1918 by King’s College Choir in Cambridge, England, that touches on universal human experiences through thoughtful verse and moving song and has been broadcast around the globe by the BBC every holiday since 1930,” says Tomlinson.

In addition to Gibson’s work, LACC performs Kim André Arneson’s Even When He is Silent and This Christmastide by British Academy Award-winning composer Donald Fraser, and reprises Dale Trumbore’s Breathe in Hope, which was commissioned for and premiered by the Chorus in May.  Graham joins the Chorus for the holiday carols O Holy NightA Christmas Lullaby and Now Have Good Day by Derek Holman.  The eclectic program also includes Thompson’s Velvet Shoes and Choose Something Like a Star; “Bereite dich, Zion” from Bach’sChristmas Oratorio; Praetorius’s Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming; “Et exultavit” and “Esurientes” from Vivaldi’s Magnificat; “Hymn to Dawn” from Holst’s Rig Veda, a collection of hymns inspired by the composer’s interest in Sanskrit and Hindu religion and poetry; and Debussy’s Noël des enfants qui n’ont plus de maisons.

Five of LACC’s highly regarded ensembles perform separately and combined.  Tomlinson conducts the chorus’s Concert Choir and Chamber Singers; Associate Artistic Director Mandy Brigham leads the Intermediate Choir; Diana Landis leads the Apprentice Choir; and Dr. Steven Kronauer conducts the Young Men’s Ensemble.

Tickets start at $20; children ages 6-17 are half price.  (Suitable for children ages 6 and up.)  For tickets and information, visit or call (626) 793-4231.  Walt Disney Concert Hall is located at 111 South Grand Avenue at First Street in downtown Los Angeles.



Murder on the Orient Express – A Classic, Suspenseful Mystery Movie With Fantastic Cast


A lavish trip through Europe quickly unfolds into a race against time to solve a murder aboard a train. Everyone’s a suspect when Detective Hercule Poirot arrives to interrogate all passengers and search for clues before the killer can strike again. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Rohan F. comments, “Murder on the Orient Express is an incredible film. It is a perfect example of a classic suspenseful mystery movie.” Damon F. adds, “I always love mystery movies because they really get me thinking. This one is particularly puzzling. It kept me guessing till the end. The storyline pulls it all together well.” See their full reviews below.

Murder on the Orient Express
By Rohan D. F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12


Murder on the Orient Express is an incredible film. It is a perfect example of a classic suspenseful mystery movie.  It is based on the detective novel by Agatha Christie. Watching this film really made me want to read the book.

The movie follows Hercule Poirot as he makes a journey aboard the train, The Orient Express. When someone gets murdered in the first-class carriage, while the train is temporarily stuck in snow, he interrogates the remaining passengers to find the culprit. As he slowly starts unraveling the different stories, lots of contradictory clues start to appear and they lead you, along with Hercule Poirot to finally make sense of this twisting tale. I really like how the movie allows you to connect to all the characters as they tell their stories in detail.

My favorite scene is the inevitable big reveal at the end of the film, when Poirot solves the case. I love mystery movies. This is the part when you find out if you are right about who you think committed the crime. I saw this film at in 70mm which was awesome. It gave the film a really authentic feeling.

I love how all the actors portray their characters. During the interrogations, you can tell that each character has something to hide. I really enjoyed Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot. I feel that he really fits the character and portrays how Hercule is feeling at any given time. His moustache is fabulous. I particularly like his moustache guard that he wears at night. This is very funny.

I love the attention to detail in this film. I like that there is a slow, rocking sound of the train throughout the entire movie and that there is always movement outside the windows, while the train is in motion. I also like the small connections to Agatha Christie’s other books. I love how they use black and white footage to represent flashbacks. This makes very clear what happened in the past rather than the present.

The moral of this film is that there is more to any situation than meets the eye.  Nothing is just black and white or right and wrong. There is a gray area in between where people’s actions can be both.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars for its real, authentic feel and recommend it for ages 10 through 18 as well as adults. This film opens in theaters November 10, 2017 so check it out.

Murder on the Orient Express
By Damon F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10


I was excited when I watched the film, Murder on the Orient Express. This movie is truly amazing. I always love mystery movies because they really get me thinking. This one is particularly puzzling. It kept me guessing till the end. The storyline pulls it all together well. The movie has an old-time feel since it takes place in the past. The screening I saw it at was on 70mm film which added to the overall feeling of it. Some parts of the movie are a bit scary, but there are very funny moments too.

The stars of this film are Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot, the protagonist, who is the most amazing detective. Penelope Cruz plays Pilar Estravados, a humble Spanish missionary and nurse. Willem Dafoe plays Cyrus Hardman, a stern German professor who keeps to himself while keeping an eye on everyone else. Other famous actors who are featured include Dame Judy Dench, a foreign princess, Michelle Pfeiffer, an American actress and Johnny Depp, a conman. They all play characters who are riding first class on the train, The Orient Express, when a murder occurs. Hercule Poirot must use his skills to collect the evidence and find the murderer. As the story unfolds, it is very hard to figure out who the murderer is and why. The tagline is “everyone is a suspect” and this turns out to be true, in the most unexpected ways.

My favorite part is in the beginning when Hercule Poirot solves a mystery of a stolen item and catches the culprit at The Wailing Wall. This scene is hilarious. Nothing about this movie is bad, I like when it shows the bottom of the old-fashioned train. Those scenes are particularly cool. The train drives through some awesome scenery on its journey from Istanbul to Paris. The message of this film is that things aren’t always what they seem. The movie is based on the book by Agatha Christie and has a perfect ending to have a sequel, as they mention where Poirot must go next, which is the name of another book by the same author.

This movie is really amazing. I rate it 5 out of 5 stars for its awesome storyline and message. The movie is rated PG-13 and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Younger children might not understand the concept of murder mysteries and it contains violence such as stabbing and gun shooting. I believe adults will really enjoy it too.






Little Wolf’s Book of Badness – Unique and Unexpected with a Spiral of Surprises!


All Little Wolf wants to do is stay at home with Mum, Dad and his brother, Smellybreff. However, Mum and Dad are worried that their precious son, Little Wolf, is not as bad as a small wolf should be. So they decide to send him off to Cunning College in Frettnin Forest to learn the Nine Rules of Badness from his Uncle Bigbad. Uncle Bigbad is a hopeless teacher, but armed with determination and native wit, Little Wolf thinks things out for himself. Sent out by his Uncle to round up a troop of boy scouts to eat for supper, Little Wolf discovers that the scouts have many useful skills that Little Wolf can learn from them. In the end, Little Wolf decides not to follow outdated rules of proper wolf behavior but to be true to himself. As a result, he inherits his Uncle’s fortune and becomes master of Cunning College. Based on a world-famous series of best-selling Little Wolf story books, this one-off is a treat for the whole family!


Little Wolf’s Book of Badness

By Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15



Little Wolf’s Book of Badness, directed by Karsten Kiilerich, is unique and unexpected! With its spiral of surprises, I never could predict what would happen in the next scene. The story also puts a twist on common fairy tales such as Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood.


The story follows Little Wolf (Alexander Pownall), who is not bad enough for his family. So his Mum (Lucy Whybrow) and Dad (Richard Hope) send him on a journey to Cunning College to learn from his Uncle Bigbad how to be a true bad wolf. On his quest, he learns the ‘Nine Rules of Badness.’


Alexander Pownall, the voice actor for Little Wolf, creates personality through his voice. His voice is high, making it sound like that of a young child. As Little Wolf ventures through the woods to reach Cunning College, I heard the fear in his voice and sympathized with him. When he writes letters back to his family and reads them, I heard the unwillingness to be where he was and the sense of defeat just through his voice. Michael Gambon, voice actor for Uncle Bigbad, has terror in his voice that gave me goose bumps. For example, when he is first introduced and he speaks, I knew Little Wolf was going to have a tough time in Cunning College.


The animation is dark but appealing. It sets the tone of the movie as it reflects Little Wolf’s feelings. For example, when Little Wolf feels that his trip was a waste of time and nothing good will come out of his journey, the scenery is dark, it is raining and there are shadowy clouds looming above him. The costume designs add to the personalities of each character. For example, Little Wolf has simple clothes that are similar to a schoolboy’s outfit, reflecting what his purpose is in the movie. Uncle Bigbad wears a grey suit, with a yellow shirt and blue tie which reflects his personality as an evil wolf but also one who has the potential to have color or goodness in his life.


My favorite part of this show is the animation. The type of animation that is used made me feel as if I was watching my own imagination. The message here is that goodness will always outshine darkness. I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 15. This is available on DVD now so check it out.


Little Wolf’s Book of Badness

By Dariana A., KIDS FIRST Film Critics, age 11




Little Wolf’s Book of Badness is a very odd type of film. It’s not your typical Dora the Explorer type of kids’ show, which is good because there are too many of those types of shows out there. This is a story and a good story at that. It teaches kids through a wolf who is supposed to be bad, but wants to be good.


The storyline is about Little Wolf who just wants to stay at home with his family, but his parents don’t think he’s bad enough to live up to the Wolf family name. So, they send Little Wolf to Cunning College to learn the Nine Rules of Badness from his Uncle Big Bad. But it turns out Uncle Big Bad isn’t such an amazing teacher after all.


As I said, the show is pretty great. The animation is wiggles a bit, even when they are standing still. This is probably intended, but it is kind of distracting. One of the things I really like about this show is its plot and the simple way it shows the lessons they are trying to teach without even saying so. This is what makes it a different type of kids’ film. It is also very slow paced. There isn’t very much action. One thing I wondered about the whole time is why Little Wolf always sneezes when he’s around Mr. Twister. Is he allergic? Michael Gambon, the voice talent for Big Bad is really cool. David Thewlis voices Mr. Twister, which is pretty awesome. I know and like both Gamgon and Thewlis from the Harry Potter films. Another thing I really enjoyed about this film is how scary they make Big Bad. I really was kind of scared when the character Big Bad came on and yelled at Little Wolf. That is probably my favorite scene because it really shows who Big Bad truly is.


The message this film teaches is that, even if you’re bad or scary, that doesn’t mean that you are happy. I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars because it has a cool, different way of teaching kids. I recommend this film for ages 2 to 6. This film is available now on DVD so, go check it out.




Daddy’s Home Two – Great Humor, Great Cast, Heart Warming Story with Co-Dads/Granddads


Father and stepfather Dusty and Brad join forces to make Christmastime perfect for the children. Their newfound partnership soon gets put to the test when Dusty’s old-school, macho dad and Brad’s gentle father arrive to turn the holiday upside down. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ryan R. comments, “I really enjoyed this film for its humor and the new cast additions.  The humor is way better than the original. I must say that Paramount upped the comedy by a lot.” Ella L. adds, “This film is so incredibly hilarious. The humor is quite slapstick and exaggerated, but is written so well and timed so perfectly that it is not obnoxious in the slightest.” Rachael V. sums it up with, “The story is wonderful and heartwarming. It is a real treat to see co-dads in action. Seeing this huge split family come together and thrive is beautiful. My favorite part of this movie is seeing the fantastic work done in choosing the grandfathers’ roles.” See their full reviews below.


Daddy’s Home Two
By Ryan R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13



Daddy’s Home Two is definitely worth seeing and is funnier than the first movie.  In this hilarious sequel to Daddy’s Home, we see Dusty’s (Mark Wahlberg) and Brad’s (Will Ferrell), friendship and co-parenting skills put to the test when both their dads show up for Christmas.<p>Towards the beginning of the film, one of the children expresses at a school play how sad it makes them feel about having two Christmas’s in two different homes.  After the play, Dusty and Brad come up with an idea and decide to tell the kids that they will have a together Christmas. Dusty’s dad, Kurt (Mel Gibson) and Brad’s dad, Don (John Lithgow) arrive during the time they are planning their perfect Christmas and that’s when things start to get crazy. Don is a very talkative, affectionate and emotional type of dad. Meanwhile, Kurt is very an ultra masculine, loner type of dad, who is not the greatest parent.  Kurt starts to instigate and stir things up between Brad and Dusty.  The question is, will they have a successful family Christmas or will it be an epic failure?


I really enjoyed this film for its humor and the new cast additions.  The humor is way better than the original. I must say that Paramount upped the comedy by a lot.  One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when they went to talk to Santa. That visit to Santa leads to a specific turkey hunt. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone because it is very entertaining. I also enjoyed the performances by the cast.  Wahlberg and Ferrell maintain their comedic chemistry like they did in the first film. The new cast members, John Lithgow and Mel Gibson are very comical and make it more entertaining with their facial expressions, sarcasms and crazy antics.  The jokes are amusing because of their delivery.  Lithgow and Gibson are the polar opposites and they are hilarious. Oh, and watch out for Scarlett Estevez and Owen Wilder Vacarro, those two are little scene-stealers. They each have moments where they really shine.


I must admit the movie can be a little childish and inappropriate at times. But overall it’s worth the watch. After all, everyone should experience a little joy and laughter around the holidays. The message I took away from this film is that the dads in this blended family were willing to work with each other, despite their differences in parenting, for the sake of their kids so they could have a Merry Christmas together. I give this movie four out of five stars and recommend it to ages 9  to 18 as well as adults. I also recommend it to those who like family comedies. This opens Friday, November 20, 2017 in theaters nationwide so, go check it out.



Daddy’s Home Two

By Ella L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13




Red Carpet coverage:


This film is so incredibly hilarious. The humor is quite slapstick and exaggerated, but is written so well and timed so perfectly that it is not obnoxious in the slightest. The plot is interesting to follow. The writers squeezed a lot of important and comical events into a short amount of time. However it doesn’t seem rushed or forced.


Daddy’s Home Two, the sequel to Daddy’s Home, is directed by Sean Anders and stars Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, John Lithgow and Mel Gibson. In this film, two kids urge their mom (Linda Cardellini), their dad (Mark Wahlberg) and their step-dad (Will Ferrell) to have a ”together Christmas.” They all agree before Dusty and Brad find out that both their dads (John Lithgow and Mel Gibson) are spending Christmas with them. The film follows this group of people as they try to enjoy a family holiday while tensions rise between each other.


The acting is awesome throughout this film. The delivery of the jokes is so on point and it makes everything funnier than it already was. I could not keep my eyes off of the screen the entire time because this film is so much fun to watch. I had an absolute blast watching it. The holiday theme makes it a great family movie to watch during the upcoming holiday season.


The message is about family and how important it is. I give this 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18. You should know that there are slightly adult jokes. This film opens November 10, 2017 in theaters nationwide so go check it out whether you’re with friends, family or even by yourself. You will have blast.


Daddy’s Home Two

By Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Juror



The subject matter of Daddy’s Home Two hits close to home for my family as we are a mixed-family family and my children are in split households. When the first film came out, all of us went to go see it in theaters together. So we were all super excited to have the honor of attending the press screening and reviewing the sequel.


The story is wonderful and heart warming. It is a real treat to see co-dads in action. Seeing this huge split family come together and thrive is beautiful. My favorite part of this movie is seeing the fantastic work done in choosing the grandfathers’ roles. Watching this, you really believe that Mel Gibson is Mark Wahlberg’s dad and John Lithgow is Will Ferrell’s dad. They deliver such believable performances. On the other hand, John Cena’s character isn’t given enough character development to make a big impact. My least favorite part of this film is the ending. I can’t tell you what it is because that would be a spoiler. I will say that it takes place at a Showcase Cinema and maybe it’s  because I was at a Showcase Cinema watching this film, but I really did not enjoy the sequence of events at the ending.


All together though, the film is well done, light hearted and funny. It brings light to a difficult subject and hopefully inspires some parents and step-parents to try a little bit harder because, in the end parenting is about the children not parents. This movie is rated PG-13 for some language and suggestive material. I feel it is appropriate for ages 10 to 18 as well as adults. I give it 5 out of 5 stars!


The public can find out how NOAA can keep them informed of the changing environment around them and how they can get involved AQUARIUM OF THE PACIFIC HOSTS NOAA DAY ON SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2017


On Saturday, November 18, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the Aquarium of the Pacific will host the eleventh annual National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) interactive event. The public can talk with real-life marine biologists and oceanographers while they learn about ocean habitat conservation, weather warnings, safe and sustainable seafood, aquaculture, ocean exploration, marine mammal strandings, and endangered species.

                        Learn more about NOAA and its efforts to protect the ocean, predict changes in the atmosphere, provide information about climate change, and impact everyday lives of people through science, service, and stewardship at the Aquarium during NOAA Day. In addition, representatives from NOAA’s National Weather Service and the Office of Aquaculture will use the state-of-the-art technology NOAA Science on a Sphere®, located in the Aquarium’s Ocean Science Center to visually highlight weather modeling, hurricanes, and seafood farming.

WHEN:            Saturday, November 18, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


WHERE:         Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802

COST:             Included with general admission: $29.95 adult (12+), $26.95 senior (62+), $17.95 child (3-11), and free for children under age three and Aquarium members.

WHO:               The West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network

  • NOAA Fisheries’ Protected Resources Division (marine mammals, endangered species)
  • NOAA Fisheries’ Sustainable Fisheries Division (salmon and steelhead, clean watersheds, coastal resiliency )
  • National Weather Service
  • NOAA Corps
  • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
  • NOAA Restoration Center
  • Southern California Ocean Observing System
  • Sea Grant
  • California Conservation Corps

INFO:              (562) 590-3100 or


NOAA:            NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in Earth’s environment from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. For more about NOAA visit or

AQUARIUM:   The nonprofit Aquarium of the Pacific is a community gathering place where diverse cultures and the arts are celebrated and where important challenges facing our planet are explored by scientists, policymakers, and stakeholders in search of sustainable solutions. The Aquarium is dedicated to conserving and building nature and nature’s services by building the interactions between and among people. Home to more than 11,000 animals, Aquarium exhibits include the Ocean Science Center, Molina Animal Care Center, and the new FROGS: Dazzling and DisappearingOur Water Future, and archerfish exhibits. Beyond its animal exhibits, the Aquarium offers educational programs for people of all ages, from hands-on activities to lectures by leading scientists. The Aquarium won a 2015 Travelers’ Choice Award for Aquariums, as awarded by TripAdvisor® travelers, and the 2017 TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence. The Aquarium offers memberships with unlimited FREE admission for 12 months, VIP Entrance, and other benefits.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Aquarium of the Pacific.



The holidays are here and it’s time for Christmas photos with Santa and Christmas shopping! The best place to go? The Shops at Montebello is a favorite of mine!


Eager children and their families can experience the joy and magic of the holiday season with a visit to the Simon® Santa Photo Experience at The Shops at Montebello. Children can whisper wishes and capture photo memories with Santa which began on  November 10 and runs through Christmas Eve Day, December 24 at Center Court.

 Save time, avoid the line with Santa by Appointment! Now you can reserve your magical moment with Santa online at

For local pet owners, there is a  popular Pet Photo Night with Santa December 3 from 8:30 – 9:30 p.m. Many pet owners view their pet as an integral member of the family and are just as committed in caring for their pets as their “human” family members. Pet Photo nights are hosted after regular mall closing and the set gets an extensive cleaning following the event to remove any potential risk to allergy sufferers.


The Shops at Montebello will also host Breakfast with Santa and a Holiday Photo Booth on December 2. Breakfast with Santa is 9 – 10 a.m. Reservations are required. Seasonal carolers will delight children and families.

I just love shopping at The Shops at Montebello because they have the best shops! Some of my favorites are the following:  Bath and Body Works, Old Navy, and Cotton On! This is the best place to find Christmas gifts for everyone on your Christmas list this holiday season! They also have some great places to catch lunch or dinner such as Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que! On Black Friday if you spend $200 or more at the following retailers: Disney Store, Express, Hollister, New York & Company, Cotton On, Steve Madden, Victoria’s Secret, Vision Center, Zales Jewelers, Robert Wayne Footwear, Bath & Body Works, and the Children’s will receive a $25 voucher from Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que.  I’m sure that there will also be some great Black Friday deals! 

Don’t miss other holiday festivities, including:

  • Black Friday Fun on November 24 where shoppers can look forward to hot chocolate and desserts, holiday photo booth and entertainment.
  • November 15 – December 24 – Enter to Win 2 Disneyland Annual Passports.  Entry forms at Guest Services.  No purchase necessary.
  • MDA Fill the Boot from November 24-26 with Montebello Fire Department hosting a fundraiser for families with muscular dystrophy.
  • Join The Shops at Montebello for the puppy Pals Family Programming Event on December 1 from 5 – 6:30 p.m. in Victoria’s Secret Court with activities for the kids and prize giveaways.
  • Don’t miss theVisa Gift Card Holiday Event with KOST 103.5 on December 2 from 2 – 4 p.m. The first 200 shoppers to receive a holiday scratcher.  Every scratcher wins a prize.  No purchase necessary.
  • The Holiday Photo Booth is December 2 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Countdown to Christmas from December 14 to 24 with Manny on the Streets from KIIS-FM.

Self Disclosure: I received some form of compensation to post. Photo Credit: SoCal City Kids.

Holiday Cards from The Stationery Studio are a must-buy this month!


It’s that time of the year! Can you believe it?! The holidays are here! It’s time to send out the Holiday/Christmas cards! I love the choices at The Stationery Studio! They have so many choices and I love how user-friendly their website is.  Their unique selection includes great die cut shapes on cards at with no extra fees, including scalloped edges, rounded corners, and medallion shapes. You are sure to find one that you like! The toughest thing was picking just one! I finally chose the Lagoon and Tan Seasons Greetings Holiday Photo Cards and I absolutely love them! The shipping is also pretty quick! So, what are you waiting for?

Check out The Stationery Studio for your holiday cards this season!


Self Disclosure: I received free samples to facilitate this post. Photo Credit: SoCal City Kids.