Archives for 2020

Pet of the Week!

Chunky Monkey is looking with hope at the potential pals out there who need some company during this difficult time and want to share quality hours with a good doggie. Chunky Monkey is a 5-year-old male pit bull who has the heart and soul of an angel and the kindest eyes you’ll ever see. He knows his commands pretty well and loves nothing more than affection from a loving companion. Meet him at the P. D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village, 7700 East Spring St., (562) 570-PETS. Ask for #A640988.

(The usual suspects contributed to this rescue)

How to Use Apps to Make a Difference in the World

With all the difficult things that can happen in this world, sometimes its best to focus on the positive. If you want to make a difference in the world, you can find different avenues that could really use your help. When I started researching ways I could help, I ran into this article, which I linked below. This was a great article and really helpful with my search for ways to help others. 

Great Apps To Help Others

Check out the article, but do keep reading on to find out what I learned about ways to help those in need. 

Help Local Homeless Shelters

If you want to have an impact in your local community, you can look at ways to volunteer at a homeless shelter in your city or area. Many homeless citizens have fallen on hard times, and really need a friendly face and a warm meal to make it through another day. You can really make an impact in their lives by volunteering your time to help serve dinners, help them apply for adult education or a job, or simply someone to have a chat with. If you don’t have lots of time during the week, you can always volunteer at important times like the holidays. Serving food at Thanksgiving or Christmas is a great way to give back to the community, and let those that are less fortunate feel cared for. 

Other Local Charities to Volunteer

But, there are more areas in which you can help your own community. You can  volunteer at a charity for animals, for women and children running from abuse, or even help keep the streets and lands free of trash. Ultimately, no matter what you are passionate about, you can find a cause to volunteer at and be proud of the impact you make. If you don’t have time to volunteer, but you still want to be able to help, you can always make donations to various charities. Although volunteering is a crucial element in running a non-profit organization, money is the most important. So, even if you can’t physically be there to help, you can make a huge impact on any charity by providing a donation. Even better, if you can pledge to donate a certain amount of money every month the charity knows they can rely on that amount and allocate it each month to what is needed most. 

Help on a Global Scale 

If you love to travel and want to help others in different countries, you can find international charities to volunteer with. You can help bring water to developing communities, help teach children, work with animals, and much more. Of course, if you can’t afford to travel, you can always donate money to different causes. The world is more of a global community, now more than ever, and it’s important to help those in need everywhere. Therefore, you can easily do a quick search online and find loads of different charities needing help in countries all over the world. 

In Conclusion 

The desire to help others is a wonderful trait in any human being. Though it may not always seem easy to jump into volunteer work, any charity, local or international, can use monetary help too. So, check out the link to the article above to see if any of their information helps you find a way to make a difference. No matter if you’re passionate about helping animals, children, or adults fallen on hard times, you are sure to find a charity that you believe in and feel good about helping. It’s important to be apart of making a difference in this world, and with the help of technology, the options are vast and right at your fingertips. 

4 Benefits of Group Activities for Kids

If there is one thing which can be said about children, it would be that most are very social creatures. They love to play and although there is the rare child who would rather stay to themselves, most kids are happiest when they are with a group of friends or classmates. In fact, it is so rare for kids to prefer being alone that it is a cause for concern. Yes, kids have fun and learn social skills when interacting in groups, but have you ever wondered about other benefits your kids may derive from group activities? Here are four to explore.


Royalty Free Photo

1. Learning to Work as a Team

No matter what activity children are involved in during group activities, the one thing which must be established early on is the need for rules and structure. The right activities can teach kids the importance of working together to the benefit of all. They learn to share and also have empathy for those who are unable to participate on their level.

2. Physical Fitness

Another huge benefit to group activities is the fun children can have exercising to stay fit. However, this takes planning for those kinds of activities that motivate kids to move. Programs like Skillastics have been designed with kids in mind and every lesson or activity is based on group participation. Some are team activities and others are more individually competitive. However, the very presence of other children can energize them and motivate them to get moving.

3. Stress Reduction

Kids who participate in groups often find levels of stress dissipating. Studies have shown that after a group participation, children feel better about themselves. Those who suffer self-doubt, or are overly concerned with grades, find comfort in interacting with others who share the same doubts and fears. Studies have proven that group activities, especially fitness activities, lead to an overall reduction in stress.

4. Building Friendships

Some kids also find it difficult to make friends. They are shy or lack in the social skills necessary to easily interact with others. However, when participating in a group activity it becomes easier to literally break out of their shells. Instead of communicating on a one-to-one basis, they are communicating with a group of peers. In fact, larger groups give kids more choices and possibilities in whom they’d like to build a friendship with. The bonding that goes on in groups is just what might be needed to teach kids how to make and sustain friendships.

These are just four of the main benefits of group activities but there are so many more. From helping kids to improve concentration skills to building strong minds and bodies, group activities help children to grow into strong and healthy adults. Never before has it been more obvious that kids simply need other kids in order to thrive. If you have a child who is overly introverted and lacking the social skills necessary to make friends easily, you might want to get your kids involved in some kind of group activity. It isn’t important what kind of group it is, but it is important to give kids a chance to learn, play and grow together.

Supporting a Grieving Child

When it comes to supporting a grieving child there are no hard and fast rules and no one size fits all approach. Empathy, love and understanding all play a major part, as does reassurance and not forcing the issue. Common sense plays a big part too, as you don’t want to leave an internet search open with the headingwrongful deaths lawyers near me’. Here are a few general ideas which will help in this situation, and each one can easily be adapted as needed.

Accept the Mood Swings

Adults don’t cope well with grief, so imagine what it’s like for a child. Don’t presume just because the tears have taken a hiatus and toys are being played with again that they are fine now. Children learn the art of distraction from an early age, and if watching a movie or reading a book makes them feel better then go with it.

Answer Questions Appropriately

Many make the mistake of believing that children should be told the truth at all times and while there is a good argument for this, when they are grieving is probably not the best time to overload them with information. Answer their questions as honestly as you can but without adding to their pain. There is a multitude of online resources available if you feel you are floundering and not helping the child as much as you would like you.

Talk About the Deceased

Although it can be tempting to not mention the person, or people, who have died, it’s not a good idea. If this child has lost a parent or sibling they may well think that your reticence to talk about them is because you have forgotten them already. Obviously this is not a case but a child’s grief is riddled with confusion, loneliness and, even if they weren’t there, guilt. You must keep their memories alive.

The Funeral

Attending the funeral can really help some children to come to terms with their loss, but it can make things so much worse for others. A lot depends on the child’s age as well. Are they of an age where they fully understand death and what it means? How will they react when they see the coffin knowing the person they loved so much is inside? If they say they want to go, and you think they are old enough to make that decision, you should probably go along with their wishes as the last thing you want is the grief morphing into bitter resentment because they believe you kept them from saying goodbye.

Grief Counselling

If you are really struggling with the whole situation then you should maybe seek some guidance from a grief counselor. This is especially relevant if you too need to grieve but are holding your emotions in to take care of the child/ren. Yes, you need to take care of them but you must be in the right frame of mind to do this. Having an emotional meltdown further along the line due to not being able to go through your own grieving process will cause you all unnecessary suffering.

Sonic Boom Season 1, Volume 2 * Nearly Five Hours of Laugh-Out-Loud, Animated Fun

It’s a Sonic you haven’t seen before an ensemble comedy that pokes fun at action-adventure storytelling, but still manages to deliver plenty of adrenaline! Wherever he goes and whatever he s up against, Sonic the Hedgehog is aided by his sidekick, Tails, and his friends Knuckles, Amy, and Sticks and, of course, attacked by his arch-nemesis, Dr. Eggman. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “I like this DVD because it is very entertaining.  Each story line is funny; it has a lot of action and delivers a lot of adrenaline. The graphics are amazing and the colors are very bright.  The voice-overs are funny and they fit each character.  The music is okay. I especially like the theme song, which is very catchy. Will C. adds, “Sonic Boom: Season 1 Volume 2 is nearly five hours of laugh-out-loud, animated fun, featuring your favorite hedgehog. The physical humor and amusing adventures will keep kids entertained for hours on end. The message of this series is that friends are stronger together.” Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer wraps it up with, “I am quite aware of Sonic the Hedgehog as a video game character, but have never watched any of his shows. I was pleasantly surprised as I watched this action-packed Season One, Volume 2 DVD. There is a lot of action as Sonic and his friends outwit Sonic’s arch-nemesis, Dr. Eggman.” See their full reviews below.

Sonic Boom Season 1, Volume 2 
By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

I like this DVD because it is very entertaining.  Each story line is funny; it has a lot of action and delivers a lot of adrenaline.

The Sonic Boom, Season 1, Volume 2 DVD, is over four hours of action, fun and entertainment. The package comes with two DVDs, which include 26 episodes.  What is nice is the gift set comes with two toys, Knuckles and Tails.  Sonic (Roger Craig Smith) is a blue hedgehog that has a sidekick, Tails, who helps him in his adventures. Sonic’s friends – Knuckles (Sebastian Desjours), Amy (Cindy Robinson) and Sticks (Nika Futterman) – help him attack his arch nemesis Dr. Eggman (Mike Pollock).  Each episode has a different story line.  The episodes do not follow a sequence, which it means that each episode is always a different adventure and that’s what makes it so entertaining.

The graphics are amazing and the colors are very bright.  The voice-overs are funny and they fit each character.  The music is okay. I especially like the theme song, which is very catchy.  My favorite episode is “Bro Down Showdown,” because it’s extremely funny.  It is about how Amy had to leave for a little bit, so Sonic and Knuckles ask her if they can stay at her house while she is gone.  Amy says yes, but there is one rule – no foolish things in her house.  So the first thing they do is eat nachos and spill on the couch.  Conveniently a commercial comes on saying, “if you win the best bros contest you win a brand new couch.” They immediately enter the contest.  It turns out Dr. Eggman is spying on them.  He arrives and starts bickering with Sonic about a bogus little thing.  A guy working there sees them fighting and pairs them up, even though Knuckles is going to be Sonic’s buddy.  Knuckels finds a new partner and tries to win the couch.  This is my favorite episode because this all happens, just because they spilled a nacho.

The moral to the stories is about “teamwork making the dream work,” because in each episode Sonic is helped by his sidekick and best friend, to either defeat Dr. Eggman or to enjoy their different adventures.

I give Sonic Boom, Season 1, Volume 2, 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, but adults can watch it with their kids and may find it amusing too. This DVD is available now so look for it! 

Sonic Boom: Season 1 Volume 2
By Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Sonic Boom: Season 1 Volume 2 is nearly five hours of laugh-out-loud, animated fun, featuring your favorite hedgehog. The physical humor and amusing adventures will keep kids entertained for hours on end.

The DVDs include 26 action-packed episodes, and if you get the limited edition gift set, you’ll also get two action figures—either Sonic with Dr. Eggman or Knuckles with Tails. In every episode, Sonic and his friends protect their village from the evil Dr. Eggman. Of course, no matter how crazy the situation, Sonic and friends are able to save the day in the end.

There are some really funny storylines, like when Sonic and Knuckles spill nacho cheese on Amy‘s couch while house-sitting. They try cleaning it up with grape soda, which just makes it worse! Their next idea is to try to win a new couch by going on a game show, but they fail and one of Dr. Eggman’s missiles ends up exploding the couch anyway. In another episode, it’s hilarious when Sonic grabs the last chili dog that Dr. Eggman wanted, so to be nice Sonic goes all the way to the warehouse to bring his nemesis a chili dog. But Dr. Eggman wanted extra relish, so he throws a tantrum by trying to destroy the whole town by shooting it with lasers and attacking it with robots. Of course this is nothing Sonic and friends can’t handle. One of the best jokes is when the boys compete against the girls in a survivor challenge. The girls decide the losers will have to do everyone’s laundry, but Sonic says, “That’s not fair for us boys – we don’t even wear pants!”

The message of this series is that friends are stronger together. There’s probably not a lot of content that parents will object to, but there is some cartoon violence that kids might be tempted to copy. The only thing that’s a problem for me is that there is one episode out of the 26 that’s only available with Spanish audio, no English at all. Unfortunately, I can’t understand what they’re saying in the episode, “Fire in a Crowded Workshop.”

I give this series 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 12, and adults might enjoy watching with their kids as well. Sonic Boom: Season 1 Volume 2 is available on DVD February 2020.

Sonic Boom Season 1, Volume 2 
By Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer

I am quite aware of Sonic the Hedgehog as a video game character, but have never watched any of his shows. I was pleasantly surprised as I watched this action-packed Season One, Volume 2 DVD. There is a lot of action as Sonic and his friends outwit Sonic’s arch-nemesis, Dr. Eggman. I like that there isn’t just the typical “good wins over evil.” It is expected that good will win, but it is fun to watch too.  Some of the humor is a bit dry if you are an adult watching the show. But, it is appropriate for children ages 5 through 12. I like that it shows teamwork and friendship, and all of the action makes it very entertaining to watch. The characters are very likable; my favorites are Sonic and Amy. I like that the characters are unique and each brings something to the show. Of course, Dr. Eggman is not a favorite of mine, but he also makes the series entertaining, especially since Sonic and his pals usually outwit him. I give this 4 out of 5 stars for its entertainment value. This DVD would make a great gift for a Sonic fan, since it is a Limited Edition Gift Set that includes Knuckles and Tails figurines. Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Reviewer

ergopouch sale through 3/19

Don’t miss this sale! It ends soon!

Credit: ergopouch .

Winter Baby Roundup!

Spring isn’t here quite yet and with this cold season and rainy days…many of these products are must-buys!

ergoPouch Winter Onesie will be a hit this season and into early Spring!

2.5 TOG ergoPouch Sleep Onesie’s

New to the USA is the ergoPouch 2.5 TOG Sleep Onesie! It’s extra thick and perfect for little ones who continue to kick off bedding but don’t love to wear a sleeping bag.  Made from skin-friendly organic cotton and also filled with organic cotton, this Onesie will keep your child warm & help regulate their body temperate all night long. The onesie can be worn on its own but is also roomy enough for extra layers underneath. This will keep your little one warm and cozy!

Find out more here! Also, find them on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ergopouchusa/ and @ergopouch_usa on Instagram. Right now they are having a 30% off sale until 3/19! Don’t miss it!

babo botanicals has a wonderful Smoothing Shampoo & Wash for your little one!

Babo’s Smoothing Detangling Shampoo & Wash is a must have for anyone who has hair licks, knots, tangles and frizz. Contains smoothing and detangling moisturizers for faster combing time, less pulling and no more tears! It really smells great too!

About Babo Botanicals

Babo Botanicals launched in 2010 by Kate Solomon who at the time was a pioneer in natural. She is a beekeeper and was an agricultural volunteer in the US Peace Corps. She took the best of natural and developed Babo. Before Babo, she was at L’Oreal working with chemicals to develop products and wanted change in personal products – particularly with children and sensitive skin.

Now Kate has gone beyond kids and has developed a range of non-toxic cosmetics and skincare for women with sensitive skin. Babo Botanicals products are designed for the most sensitive skin, from babies to adults and are 100% gluten, soy and dairy free. Babo Botanicals retail partners include Amazon, Anthropologie, buybuyBABY,,The Detox Market, Follain, Goop, Grove Collaborative, Pharmaca, Target, Thrive Market, Ulta, Whole Foods Market, Wegmans and many more. For more information, visit www.babobotanicals.com.

Follow Babo Botanicals on Facebook

https://www.instagram.com/babobotanicals/?hl=en

Aren’t these the cutest?! pediped Originals boo bear shoe  are comfy and super adorable!

About Originals® Boo Bear

Man made and leather upperSoft fleece lining All leather soft-sole with slip resistant diamond treadEasy, pull-on design with elastic at the ankle for stay-put fitApproved by the American Podiatric Medical Association for promoting healthy foot development. And, they are so adorable! About pediped®
Exceptional quality, unsurpassed comfort, and distinctive styling have made the award-winning company the one of the fastest growing children’s footwear brand in the United States. pediped® footwear has been awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance for the promotion of healthy foot development, and preeminent orthopedic medical professionals, Dr. Mininder S. Kocher and Dr. Thomas W. Vorderer, deem pediped® shoes an excellent choice for parents/caregivers who want their children’s feet to develop naturally and healthily. pediped® has received numerous industry and consumer awards and accolades including recognition from Earnshaw’s, the premier media resource serving the children’s market, with a 2016 Earnie Award as the Footwear Brand of the Year. In 2015 pediped® was recognized by the Footwear Industry Awards as the Children’s Footwear Brand of the Year and in 2019 pediped® received a Cribsie award for Favorite Footwear.
pediped® is sold in over 750 stores in the United States and 40 countries worldwide with an offering of more than 120 designs for boys and girls between its three lines, Originals®, Grip ‘n’ Go™ and Flex®. The award-winning footwear is available in EU sizes 17 to 38 (US newborn to 6 Youth). For more information, visit www.pediped.com or call 1-702-567-0311. LIKE on Facebook at /pedipedfootwear and follow on Instagram and Twitter @pedipedfootwear.
MAM Feed and Soothe gift set  is sure to be a hit with any new Mom you know! A great baby shower gift idea!

The MAM feed and soothe gift set includes 4 anti-colic bottles, 2 each of 5 ounce and 8 ounce. Also included are 2 MAM 0-6 months silicone pacifiers. The anti-colic bottle is just one of the innovative developments from the MAM design studio. You can buy the set on Amazon.com.

About MAM – standard setting baby products

MAM combines technological innovation, medical function and contemporary design to develop superior baby care products that support a baby’s development from day one. Since MAM developed its first pacifier in Vienna in 1976, it has evolved to become a global authority on baby care product design and quality. Today MAM products are used by families in over 60 countries and on six continents. To find out more and view MAM’s baby care range of award-winning pacifiers, bottles, cups, teethers, oral care items, coordinating accessories and gift sets visitwww.mambaby.com.

Follow MAM

Facebook: facebook.com/MAMbabyUSA

Pinterest: Pinterest.com/MAMUSA

Instagram: mam_usa

Cold Weather Skin Care for Baby!

With such delicate and sensitive skin, parents need to keep baby’s skin protected. Baby Magic’s line of lotions will keep baby hydrated and soft all winter long. Even mom or dad can use it! With wholesome ingredients and classic scents, Baby Magic will be your go-to throughout the chilliest of days!

Moisturizing Lotion

·         A sweet buttercup scent that will wrap your baby’s skin with nourishment. Great for babies on the sensitive side, this gentle lotion will help sooth and replenish precious skin. Packed with ingredients like Calendula and Coconut.

Baby Lotion

·         The classic Baby Magic scent that will leave baby with smooth, hydrated skin! Infused with Camellia Oil and Marshmallow Root to help moisturize skin while calming inflammation. Perfect for after a bath or throughout the day this lotion is sure to keep baby smiling.

This one is my favorite!

Calming Lotion      Your baby nighttime routine must-have. After a relaxing bath, moisturize baby with Calming Lotion to lull them to sleep. Lavender and Chamomile help soothe and relax baby while getting them ready for bed.

All formulas are free of sulfates, mineral oil, dyes, parabens, phthalates, talc and lanolin for a worry-free parent and a happy baby.

This is a must-buy for this cold season!

The Exergen Smart Glow TemporalScanner™ is the lifesaver you need. With just a gentle forehead scan, you can see if your child – or anyone at home – has the flu, which is indicated by a fever.  This is so easy to use! I highly recommend having this one at home especially right now! Sold in major retailers including Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, RiteAid, Costco, Kroger and BJ’s, the Smart Glow thermometer’s suggested retail price is $49.99. For more information visit Exergen’s website.

Self Disclosure: I received samples of the above items to feature in the Winter Baby Roundup. I only feature items that I highly recommend! Images were also provided.

Onward * Easily One of Our Favorite Pixar Films. Touching Story, Fun, Exciting, Adventurous!

Set in a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers embark on a quest to discover if there is still magic out there. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “As of now, this film is easily one of my favorite Pixar films. I adore the touching story and especially the world-building. Overall, Onward is an amazing film.” Zoe C. adds, “Onward is fun, exciting, adventurous, and an emotional roller coaster. Pixar delivers another wonderful film that is very appealing to new generations and easy to relate, despite characters from another world.” Jolleen M. contributes, “I loved every bit of this movie so much that I cannot pick one part as my favorite. The film induces such a wide range of emotions. Tears of joy, as well as sympathy, were shed, because of all the beautiful moments. Ian and Barley have a sweet relationship from the beginning, but the way that their relationship as brothers develops is wonderful to watch.” Will C. says, “The animators have created a beautiful imaginative world with lots of clever details that will make you want to watch again and again. The voice acting is top-notch, with Tom Holland and Chris Pratt showing a range of emotions and humor as Ian and Barley. Octavia Spencer as Manticore brings her character to life with frantic energy.” And Katherine S. wraps it up with, “The messages of this movie are that family is the most important thing and sometimes what you’re looking for has been with you the whole time. This film does have some magical scenes that kids should not imitate. It also reminds us to always pay your parking tickets.” See their full reviews below.

Onward

By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

(interviews)

As of now, this film is easily one of my favorite Pixar films. I adore the touching story and especially the world-building. Overall, Onward is an amazing film. Onward takes in a world much like our own, except it’s populated with fantasy creatures. We follow two elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot as they discover magic still exists and thus go on a quest to revive their father for one day.

So, first the animation. I feel like this is pretty self-explanatory. Since it is Pixar, the animation is absolutely outstanding. But, I specifically want to discuss the world in which Onward takes place. There are so many creative and diverse character designs and representations of mythological creatures (which I appreciate as a mythology fan). The world-building is probably some of the best I’ve ever seen. I have contemplated the idea of a suburban fantasy, so I’m really happy seeing that idea brought to life. There’s a lot of really funny gags surrounding this idea, such as an historically accurate “Dungeons and Dragons” and unicorns becoming the equivalent of raccoons. You can tell the artists really enjoyed designing the settings.

However, the world is not the only enjoyable aspect of this film. The characters are especially fun. The two brothers, Ian and Barley, have amazing chemistry. This is probably thanks to their voices actors – Tom Holland playing Ian and Chris Pratt playing Barley. They already have a connection from the Marvel movies, so their relationship feels real. But Ian and Barley aren’t the only great characters in this movie. I would say my personal favorite character is The Manticore, played by Octavia Spencer. The Manticore is probably the funniest character and I really like her friendship with the brothers’ mom, Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).

Speaking of which, Onward is really funny. There’s a specific scene involving The Manticore that caused me to laugh probably the hardest I’ve ever laughed at a Pixar movie. There are also a lot of gags involving the fact that the world is populated with fantasy creatures.

And as expected from a Pixar film, it’s pretty emotional. And, given the context of the plot, I feel this might be one of Pixar’s most heart wrenching films. When you think about it, who wouldn’t want to bring someone back, even for one day?

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. It comes out on March 6, 2020 so look for it. 

Onward

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Onward is fun, exciting, adventurous, and an emotional roller coaster. Pixar delivers another wonderful film that is very appealing to new generations and easy to relate, despite characters from another world.

Onward is a computer animated, urban fantasy film directed by Dan Scanlon, who also co-wrote the script with Jason Headley and Keith Bunin. The story follows brothers Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt), two teenage elf’s who embark on an extraordinary quest. Their goal is to try and see if there is magic left in the world, in order to spend one last day with their father, who died when they were younger. This is a story about bonding between father and son, and between two brothers.

(Zoe’s interview with Carlos Felipe Leon, shading art director, in Spanish)

Tom Holland, as Ian, the younger of the two brothers delivers a very subtle, but engaging interpretation that makes the audience immediately connect with his loner behavior. Chris Pratt, as Barley, the eldest brother, is vibrant, optimistic and his personality is almost opposite to his younger brother. Octavia Spencer plays Manticore, a fearless creature who can fly and sends people on quests). I absolutely love Octavia’s performance and Manticore is my favorite character. I’ve always loved Octavia as an actress, so I was really exited that she voices this character. Another great voice is Laurel, the brother’s mother, by super fun and charismatic Julia Louise-Dreyfus.

The animation in this movie is very detailed and sometimes photo realistic. Pixar has developed digital animation over the years to a fine art, and truly this film displays that. You can see so many details in the characters’ facial expressions. If you look very closely you can see that the elves all have freckles! There is also a lot of emotion in this movie and the animation displays it so well.

I’m pretty sure everyone who watches this movie will cry at one point. I sure did. One of the fascinating aspects of Onward is how these fantasy creatures interact with each other and go through a journey of redemption and self discovery.

Onward is entertaining all the way, but some jokes don’t work out and, at some point, it’s a little hard to feel fully invested in one of the characters that appears only from his waist to his feet.

The message of this film is – believe. The magic in the film is a metaphor for our own ability of make things happen and letting out the light within ourselves.

I give Onward 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 13. Make sure to check out Onward in theaters on March 6, 2020.

Onward

By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Onward has an amazing plot with lots of humor. The whole theater was laughing so much throughout, but there were also so many other emotions. Watching the film was an amazing rollercoaster and I learned a lot from it.

The film takes place in a fantasy world where many different species of creatures live. It follows the journey of two elves who are brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt). Ian is a shy, cautious person, while his older brother Barley is fearless and obsessed with quests and adventure. After Ian turns 16, their mother reveals a gift that their late father left for them. Their father died before Ian was born and Barley only has four memories of him. The gift includes a magical staff and a spell that will bring back their father for a day, so that he can see what his boys grew up to be. Ian manages to start the spell, but he is only able to resurrect the lower half of his father’s body before the crystal in the staff breaks. To be able to meet his father is everything to Ian, so along with Barley they go to find another crystal and bring the rest of their father back. 

Tom Holland and Chris Pratt have worked with each other before on other films, so they have a close relationship. You can see this when they voice Ian and Barley. It makes the film more enjoyable to watch, because they have such good chemistry. The animation is full of vibrant colors and magic. The creatures are all unique and have distinct personalities. The entire film is unique and filled with creative ideas, which pleasantly surprises the audience.

I loved every bit of this movie so much that I cannot pick one part as my favorite. The film induces such a wide range of emotions. Tears of joy, as well as sympathy were shed, because of all the beautiful moments. Ian and Barley have a sweet relationship from the beginning, but the way that their relationship as brothers develops is wonderful to watch.

There are so many lessons and messages that you could take away, but the most prominent one is about being grateful for what you have. Ian was always so focused on the fact that he was never able to meet his father that he looked past the things that he did have. Fortunately, he is able to realize that he’s had his brother Barley all his life, before it is too late.

Onward is such a well made and creative movie that kept me intrigued the entire time. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. It comes out in theaters March 6, 2020 so be sure to go and watch it!

Onward

By Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Onward is Disney/Pixar’s new action-packed animated movie with lots of magical laughs! There’s hilarious physical humor, exciting chases and fights, but it’s also a very moving film. You really feel the main characters’ sense of loss at not growing up with their father.

Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt) are teenage elf brothers who live in a suburban mushroom house in a land that was formerly full of magic. They use a spell to bring their dad back to life, but only get his bottom half! They have 24 hours to complete a quest to finish the spell and see him one more time. All they need to finish the spell is the Phoenix gem, but finding it proves a lot more complicated than they first think. While they are working to bring him back, they have to bring their dad’s legs and feet along with them for the ride.

The animators have created a beautiful imaginative world with lots of clever details that will make you want to watch again and again. The voice acting is top notch, with Tom Holland and Chris Pratt showing a range of emotions and humor as Ian and Barley. Octavia Spencer as Manticore brings her character to life with frantic energy. The introduction of her character is hilarious! She’s a former magical adventurer turned family restaurant owner. I really like the part when Barley shrinks down to a tiny size due to Ian messing up a spell. I also like when Ian turns their boat into a cheese puff so they can eat their own transportation! I love Officer Colt and his catchphrase where he asks everyone if they are “working hard or hardly working.”

There are a lot of positive messages in this film about family and loyalty. Another message is that you can go searching for things you’ve never had in life, but you might find they were right with you all along. Parents of younger kids might want to watch out for some of the risky actions the brothers take, like when Ian walks off a cliff, trusting in his magic to keep him safe.

I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 5 to 17, and adults will like it too. You can see Onward in theaters everywhere starting March 6, 2020.

Onward

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I love Onward! It is a whimsical story filled with colorful and eccentric characters. Pixar nailed the animation, and the cast of voices is pure perfection.

Onward takes place in a magical world, that isn’t quite so magical anymore. Brothers Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) are complete opposites in every way. Brave Barley is never is afraid to take a risk, especially when it involves magic. Ian, on the other hand, is quirky, and lacks confidence. Their mom, Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), is an important character as she is the glue keeping their family together.

The movie is inspired by the director, Dan Scanlon’s own childhood. I love the setting of this movie. It takes place in a modern town, where everyone lives in mushroom-shaped houses. Unicorns, once a majestic creature, are now more like raccoons than anything else. Adorable mini dragons are kept as pets. The voice-over actors are wonderful. Mel Rodriguez, who voices Officer Bronco, has the funniest laugh. Octavia Spencer, who voices The Manticore, acts as wild as a Manticore should. Tom Holland (Ian) perfectly portrays an awkward kid. My favorite character is Barley, because he is a classic rock loving boy. 

The messages of this movie are that family is the most important thing and sometimes what you’re looking for has been with you the whole time. This film does have some magical scenes that kids should not imitate. It also reminds us to always pay your parking tickets.

I give Onward 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. People with siblings will especially like it as will adults. Onward opens in theaters March 6, 2020.