Archives for September 17, 2021

Cultureverse * Immersive Audio Drama With A Unique Educational Twist On Myths And Folklore

Cultureverse is an immersive audio drama that celebrates our collective cultural past. It is a place where myths and legends come alive in the modern world. In each episode, an ordinary kid encounters an extraordinary creature, myth, or folk character from their culture, embarking on an exciting journey of self-discovery. Cultureverse isn’t just an audio adventure, it’s a show that celebrates who we are, and where we come from.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Each episode of this podcast delves deep into a unique cultural tradition or concept, such as the Czech golems or the Dangsan Tree of South Korea. The podcast teaches these concepts using a simple, but effective storyline… Kyla C. adds, “Are you looking for a new podcast with amazing acting and hosting, creative stories and cultural values? Listen to Cultureverse, a brand new podcast created for tweens and teens to be entertained by fantastical adventures and educated about many cultures.” Kendal B. chimes in with, “Hosted by Kelly Marie Tran and Yara Shahidi, Cultureverse takes myths and legends from different cultures, adds fictional modern characters and a new storyline, which make them more interesting and understandable. Kids will enjoy the exciting characters and the fascinating creatures.” Kyla wraps it up with, “The message of Cultureverse is to learn and explore other cultures’ traditions. This theme is clearly conveyed in each and every episode. It’s great that passing on these positive messages is a top priority for this podcast.” See their full reviews below.

Cultureverse

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

Cultureverse is a unique educational podcast with hosts we all love – actresses Yara Shahidi and Kelley-Marie Tran! Kids will appreciate its high production quality and immersive plot lines.

Each episode of this podcast delves deep into a unique cultural tradition or concept, such as the Czech golems or the Dangsan Tree of South Korea. The podcast teaches these concepts using a simple, but effective storyline – a child learns more about their culture through a real-world scenario (for example, bullying during online classes). For example, one of the episodes centers around Cholito de Suerte, a magical, luck-giving creature in Mexican folklore. A young girl is in the process of rebranding her musical persona and really wants some cool sunglasses. One day, she finds the Cholito de Suerte in her locker, and she remembers that her grandmother said the Cholito is generous and kind to all those who take care of it. After she gives the Cholito food, it spits out lots of coins and she’s able to buy her sunglasses (and more) with the money. This cycle continues for a while until the secret of her Cholito is betrayed, after which a unique lesson is taught. The show is based on a beautiful idea and is executed very well.

Cultureverse has no set cast except for the hosts Yara Shahidi and Kelley-Marie Tran. There’s a new child voice actor in each episode. The script doesn’t differ much between the two hosts; it’s natural and maintains a good pace throughout the 20 to 25 minute duration.  I really enjoyed Tran’s narration a bit more, but since the stories in each episode have such sustained, contained momentum powered by the child voice actors and plotline, it doesn’t make much of a difference who is hosting.

Cultureverse promotes cultural appreciation as opposed to cultural appropriation. It encourages kids to learn about different cultures, even providing them with some further reading at the end of each episode.

I give Cultureverse 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Cultureverse is available now online at https://www.trax.fm/cultureverse. Go check it out!

Cultureverse

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

With a hint of culture and lots of interesting stories, the podcast Cultureverse is a great way to learn more about stories from the past in a fun way. Even though these stories from the past have been modernized to entertain children, some of the plots get a little random and off-topic.  However, that doesn’t stop this podcast from being a great way to educate your child about different heritages.

Hosted by Kelly Marie Tran and Yara Shahidi, Cultureverse takes myths and legends from different cultures, adds fictional modern characters and a new storyline, which make them more interesting and understandable. Kids will enjoy the exciting characters and the fascinating creatures.

The voice acting and sound effects in this podcast are so extravagant and over-the-top that it feels like the sounds are coming out of the screen and into your room. It’s definitely a very creative concept for a podcast, especially because it makes kids wantto learn and keep listening. This would be a good added tool in a classroom for a history lesson because, while it sounds like a normal fantasy book, it still keeps the key parts of the original stories or myths. It could also be used at a heritage day or a multicultural festival as added content.

This podcast’s message is to keep culture alive through stories, as they are the foundation of our heritage and we should not let them be forgotten.

I give Cultureverse 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12. Cultureverse is available now online at https://www.trax.fm/cultureverse

Cultureverse

By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Are you looking for a new podcast with amazing acting and hosting, creative stories and cultural values? Listen to Cultureverse, a brand new podcast created for tweens and teens to be entertained by fantastical adventures and educated about many cultures. Co-hosted by Kelly Marie Tran and Yara Shahidi, Cultureverse is a must-listen epic-adventure podcast.

Each episode of the podcast features a new character, a new background and a new cultural adventure. The short introduction lets viewers know more about the character and their desires; then Cultureverse dives into the magical adventure. One of my favorite episodes is The Watermelon Prince. Based on a Vietnamese folktale, Mia (Vicky Win) is sucked into a world of magic through none other than a talking watermelon. In the universe of this folktale, Mia meets herself, but as a different person. When she returns from her adventure, she feels as if she’s found another part of herself.

Cultureverse is a podcast with many positive aspects. The hosts are warm, welcoming and educational in their pre-story and post-story talks. They are also very talented narrators that make the stories more interesting and enjoyable. All the voice-actors are great; they make each story more fun while creating a vivid picture for the audience. The plot is another strong point. Each episode starts off realistic, so I’m stuck in the mind of a character when the fantastical elements start. It helps that normal kids experience these crazy cultural adventures. If the characters were superheroes or other fantasy creatures, it wouldn’t be as relatable. This podcast is a great way to introduce a variety of cultural myths and folktales.

The message of Cultureverse is to learn and explore other cultures’ traditions. This theme is clearly conveyed in each and every episode. It’s great that passing on these positive messages is a top priority for this podcast.

I give Cultureverse 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 14. You can find Cultureverse on Trax at https://www.trax.fm/cultureverse.

Books of the month!

I WISH YOU KNEW & OJALA SUPIERAS (Spanish Edition) by Jackie Azúa Kramer; illustrated by Magdalena Mora: This sweet text highlights socially and politically relevant family issues surrounding immigration and deportation, drawing the connection to eternal themes of childhood uncertainty.

This is a picture book that is wonderful for young children. It’s a delightful story and I love the illustrations!

BIG APPLE DIARIES by Alyssa Bermudez: A heartfelt diary-style graphic memoir by Alyssa Bermudez, a young, half Puerto Rican New Yorker doodles her way through middle school—until the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack leaves her wondering if she can ever be a kid again.

I recommend this one for Middle school grades and I feel that kids will be able to relate to this story.

CUBA IN MY POCKET by Adrianna Cuevas: By the author of 2021 Pura Belpré Honor Book The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez, a sweeping, emotional middle-grade historical novel about a twelve-year-old boy who leaves his family in Cuba to immigrate to the U.S. by himself, based on the author’s family history.

This is another one that I recommend for middle school-age kids!

THE MIRROR SEASON by Anna-Marie McLemore: When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family’s possibly magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown. This is one that I recommend for older teenagers and young adults.

Find these books at https://us.macmillan.com/mackids/

Self Disclosure: I received free copies of the above books. Cover images were also provided.

Books of the week!

New to the bestselling INDESTRUCTIBLES series: Happy And You Know It! and This Little Piggy (Workman Publishing; Available now; $5.95 each; Paperback; Ages 0+)

Looking for books for your baby or toddler? I love the INDESTRUCTIBLES series because the books are well….indestructible! With more than 7 million copies in print, INDESTRUCTIBLES are built for the way babies “read”: with their hands and mouths. Printed on a unique paperlike material that is nontoxic, washable, and rip proof, they hold up against anything little ones can throw at them, spill on them, or drag them around. They also can be rinsed off or even put in the dishwasher to clean them.

The latest installments in the series teach babies classic childhood rhymes that they can clap and wiggle along to:

      THIS LITTLE PIGGY is a fun way to introduce little ones to the favorite children’s rhyme – “this little piggy went to market, and this little piggy stayed home!” Babies can wiggle their toes as adult readers share the classic verses – wee wee wee, all the way home.

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HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT! is the perfect way to introduce little readers to a beloved song. Caregivers can sing the well-known song aloud, and baby can learn body movements – just like the happy children on the page.

You can find them at https://www.workman.com/brands/indestructibles

Self Disclosure: I received free copies of the above books to feature. Images were also provided.

The Takeaway Lessons From the Bill Cosby Case

In June 2021, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Bill Cosby, after decades of litigations had already taken place. Dozens of women had accused Cosby of sexual assault throughout the years, but only the case of one victim still fell within the statute of limitations.

So what exactly does the Bill Cosby Case teach us? What can be used to teach other attorneys what mistakes shouldn’t be made in the future?

The Sexual Assault Allegations Being Brought Into The Light

The allegations began in 2004 when Andrea Constand reported that Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted her in January and February 2004. Even after she left her job and returned to Canada, she continued to experience mental anguish in the form of anxiety and flashbacks due to Cosby’s actions.

It wasn’t until 2005 that Constand filed a complaint with her police department in Canada. After this was brought to light, other allegations began to arise. That’s why it’s important to have a sex crime attorney you can trust and who wants to take your case.

Cosby Appeals His Conviction

The prosecution process has been lengthy, lasting over a decade. However, Cosby filed an appeal on the basis that the trial judge shouldn’t have allowed the admission of deposition testimony he had been told during the prosecution procedure would not have been used.

It was painful for the victims to watch him go free, but the basis of his appeal is rooted in important legal doctrine. The Justices of the court expressed that the prosecutors used coercive tactics that lured Cosby into confessing his crimes under the guise that he would not be criminally prosecuted for them. This falls under the Fifth Amendment rights, which guarantees criminal defendants the right not to testify against themselves.

The Outcome of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Decision

The decision made by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court does not mean that Cosby is suddenly innocent of the allegations made by dozens of women. What is does demonstrate is the line that separates civil and criminal litigation from each other.

To put it in simple terms, civil cases are between the accuser and the individual who harmed them; they have greater control over the case because all they have to do is prove that there is a 51% chance that the respondent is the one who harmed the accuser.

Criminal cases, however, involve the defendant and the state. Guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt; the accuser only serves as a witness to the case.

The Future of Sexual Assault Cases

This isn’t to say that bringing sexual assault cases to court is no pointless. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court was only doing its job of protecting the constitutional rights of Cosby; he has not been acquitted of his actions, his reputation is ruined for the rest of his life, and his accusers haven’t been discredited. So there is still merit in coming forth if someone is a victim of a sexual assault.

Justice deserves to be served, even if a conviction cannot be secured in criminal court. It’s important that victims of sexual assault are heard so that their cases can be brought before the court.