Archives for December 23, 2021

Holiday Book Gift Guide

The Kids’ Book of Sticker Love (Workman Publishing; $19.95; ages 7 and up).

A natural companion to The Kids’ Book of Paper Love, with 52,000 copies in print, The Kids’ Book of Sticker Love is jam-packed with tons of original ideas and crafty projects for kids to make. This book offers something new to discover on every page, from holographic stickers and origami finger puppets to tiny paper gift bags so kids can share their stickered creations with friends and family. It’s a treasure trove of screen-free, hands-on entertainment for kids of all ages, packed with every sticker project under the sun.

Find out more at https://www.workman.com/

Quarto Kids have the perfect books to educate and delight curious little minds. 

ABC What Can We Be? Coloring Book

Paperback | $6.99 | 9781600589836

Ages 3+

Discover a wonderful world full of career possibilities to color – from Astronaut to Zoologist and everything in between!

Perfect for teaching toddlers their ABCs and entertaining them with coloring, this bumper 80 page book shows there are no limits to what a kid can pursue.

Find out more at https://www.quarto.com/

PAINT BY STICKER KIDS: MERMAIDS & MAGIC

Another fun book from our friends at Workman Publishing!

 This one features 10 full-color images of fanciful creatures and magical artifacts that have captivated kids for generations.

Imaginations will take flight as children paint this magical universe, full of bright and beautiful beings and fantastical curios, one sticker at a time. Dive into the ocean with a magical mermaid and an adorable narwhal, then take to the skies with a majestic pegasus and a playful pixie. Glitter stickers are included throughout to double the fun and give these whimsical scenes even more sparkle.

PAINT BY STICKER is all the fun of arts and crafts without the mess. No paints or sticky glue to spill makes cleanup nonexistent. Plus, these perforated card stock pages make it easier than ever to remove the out-of-this-world art and share it with the whole family! Perfect for ages 5+.

With bouncy, delightful rhymes, Bridget Heos’ Santa Jaws celebrates Christmas under the sea. Every year, Santa Jaws delivers presents to his fellow sharks, spreading cheer wherever he goes. Elfin sharks make toys, horn sharks trim the Christmas kelp, and cookiecutter sharks make sure Santa doesn’t go hungry. Get ready for a ride on Santa’s sled (pulled, of course, by hammerheads) in this joyful holiday tale! I loved this story! It is published by our friends at https://us.macmillan.com/ but you can also find it on Amazon.com.

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

Books of the Week

Featuring illustrated tutorials for drawing dozens of animals, Ten-Step Drawing: Cats and Dogs break down each subject into ten simple steps. All you need to get started is a pen or pencil and a piece of paper!

Handy prompts help you learn to draw by encouraging you to express creative individuality, while helpful general drawing tips enable you to try out your drawing skills on other subjects not featured in the book. The projects feature instructions for graphite pencil, ink, and colored pencil, for a well-rounded introduction to drawing.

Learn to draw more than 50 cat and dog breeds, including American Shorthairs, Persians, Maine Coons, Golden Retrievers, French Bulldogs, Great Danes, and many more!

The perfect references for your first steps as an aspiring artist, Ten Step Drawing: Cats and Dogs are sure to give you the courage to break out a pencil and paper and draw to your heart’s content! 

Designed especially for aspiring illustrators, doodlers, and art hobbyists, the fun and approachable books in the Ten-Step Drawing series encourage new artists to get acquainted with the basic principles of drawing so they can learn to create art with confidence. They are sure to encourage even the most reluctant artist to break out a sketchbook and doodle to their heart’s content. 

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

Last Minute Gift Suggestions!

Can you believe that Christmas Eve is tomorrow? Here are some more of my favorite gift ideas!

Photo Credit: NAUSENI

Keep your feet warm and cozy with NAUSENI slippers. Every pair is handcrafted, the soles are Himalayan buffalo suede leather and the rest is 100% natural wool and felt. These sustainable, eco-friendly slippers are handmade by women in Nepal. They mold to your foot for the perfect fit. Choose from kid and adult sizes in a variety of colors: https://www.nauseni.org/ 

I love these! They are comfy!

Photo Credit: Cali Weights

Cali Weights are brand-new chic weighted bracelets that come in a ton of fun colors to help you look and feel your best. These versatile, durable, and stylish bracelets each weigh ¼ pound, and are meant to mix and match. Cali Weights come in a beautifully packaged case that is 100% recyclable, and each bracelet is made of high-density moldable iron and covered with hand-soft silicone that is water and sweatproof. Each case comes with four bracelets. You can wear four or more bracelets at a time to achieve your fitness goals, and they are available in three different sizes (small, medium, and large) to fit a variety of wrists. They are the perfect accessory to wear all day during school drop offs, Zoom calls, yoga and Pilates classes, spin, teaching, the gym… the options are endless. More information: www.caliweights.com.

Photo Credit: GLOBALANCE

GLOBALANCE– Keep lunch cold with sleek and functional GEL-COOL Bento Boxes. These BPA-free bento boxes keep food fresh and safe from hot weather with its built-in ice pack. It’s easy to use… just put the lid in the freezer the night before you plan to use, and then pack your lunch the next day. The bento box will keep your food cold for approximately four hours. Available in nine fun colors like milk white, berry blue, and sesame grey. Components except for the ice pack lid are dishwasher and microwave safe. Lunch ideas and more are available at https://loisthestore.com/collections/bento-boxes.

Good Banana isn’t just a fun thing to say, but they have the hottest kids’ gifts to give this holiday season. From snuggly soft weighted blankets to bed tents, yoga mats and stuffed animals in bright colors and themes like rainbow, dinosaur, donut, pizza and more! These high-quality, super soft products are made with the same design and care as adult products, but in fun kids’ colors and sizes. Check out the weighted blankets! These five-pound weighted blankets are made for kids (or kids at heart) 30 pounds and up. Complete your gift set with a kids-sized yoga mat in fun themes like kitty cat, llama, rainbow and panda… kids can use these mats to practice yoga, relax and more! There really is a gift for everyone… bubble machines, lap desks, loud mouths (plush toys that repeat whatever kids say), toy storage bags, doorway curtains, and gift cards… the possibilities are endless. More information: www.goodbanana.com and available on Amazon.

Photo Credit: Good Banana
Photo Credit: Good Banana

Butter Hub is a smarter butter dish. This kitchen must-have has four features that make it stand out from others on the market. Butter Hub’s magnetic lid (to hold a knife), extended feet (to keep butter mess off the table), scoop ramps and a scrape edge comes in seven colors to match any kitchen décor. With more than a 4.5 star rating, the simple look, lightweight, dishwasher safe and microwavable, BPA-free dish will keep your butter soft and ready for spreading! More information and available at: https://butterhub.com/ and Amazon.

Photo Credit: Butter Hub

Self Disclosure: I received free samples of the above products to facilitate this holiday featured post. Images were also provided.

Foodtastic * Disney’s New Food Show Filled With Whimsy And Larger Than Life Food Sculptures

Hosted by the multitalented, Emmy® award-winning actress Keke Palmer, Foodtasticis an immersive global competition series in which highly skilled artists create extravagant scene work and larger-than-life sculptures made entirely out of food. From vegetables and butter to fruit and cheese, these everyday items are transformed into works of art. Each episode is rooted in iconic Disney IP and the food-based builds are an extension of that world. Flour Shop founder Amirah Kassem and NYC’s City Cakes founder chef Benny Rivera serve as food art experts on the series. 

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “Foodtastic is Disney’s new food build competition show that is filled with whimsical storytelling, breathtaking set designs, out-of-this-world visual effects, and larger than life food sculptures with magic around each corner.” See her full review and interview with Keke Palmer below.

Foodtastic 

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11


What do you get when you give adults a pass to play with their food in the magical world of Disney? You get one Foodtastic show! Foodtastic is Disney’s new food build competition show that is filled with whimsical storytelling, breathtaking set designs, out-of-this-world visual effects, and larger than life food sculptures with magic around each corner.

Foodtastic is hosted by the multi-talented actress, Keke Palmer, who is also one of the executive producers. Each episode opens with Keke Palmer acting out a Disney-themed skit narrated by award-winning voice actor Anthony Mendez. Contestants must build scenes using food sculptures based on the skit. Flour Shop founder Amirah Kassem and NYC’s City Cakes founder chef Benny Rivera serve as the food artist experts and judges on the show. Contestants are judged on technique, realism and creativity. The winning team is awarded bragging rights and a gold Foodtastic pin.

Each episode has three teams consisting of highly talented food artists including architects, food sculptors and even a Guinness world record pumpkin carver. Disney left no stone unturned when it came to making this show magical. The set designs are vibrant and very realistic. Creative visual effects such as a red sun setting in the background of the Star Wars-themed episode are used to track the contestants’ time. The food artists are like kids in a candy store when they see all the food options they have to build their sculptures. The food designs are impressive and include anywhere from 55 different food ingredients for one sculpture, giant jawbreakers as giant donut sprinkles, wasps made out of hot peppers and even Ramen noodles as a massive ant hill. There are even plot twists that serve as extra challenges for the teams, where they may have to re-think their entire project to add a last-minute element, such as Micro Girl needing to be rescued. In that instance, they had to figure out how to add her and what type of food to use to make her. One of the best parts of the show is that all unused food is donated to the local food banks.

Disney is known for being magical and inspiring audiences around the world and Foodtastic is no different. It promotes teamwork, creativity, problem-solving skills and tapping into the magical world of Disney. The contestants really learn what it’s like to dream big, free your mind, believe in yourself and your team and just go for it. It’s sure to motivate generations of food artists.

I rate Foodtastic 5 out 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 5 to 18, kids at heart and adults. You can find Foodtastic on Disney+ starting Wednesday, December 15, 2021.

American Underdog * An Unlikely Story Of A Football Player Ascending To The Heights Of The Game

American Underdog tells the inspirational true story of Kurt Warner (Zachary Levi), who went from a stock boy at a grocery store to a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion, and Hall of Fame quarterback. The film centers on Warner’s unique story and years of challenges and setbacks that could have derailed his aspirations to become an NFL player — but just when his dreams seemed all but out of reach, it is only with the support of his wife, Brenda (Anna Paquin) and the encouragement of his family, coaches, and teammates that Warner perseveres and finds the strength to show the world the champion that he already is. American Underdog is an uplifting story that demonstrates that anything is possible when you have faith, family and determination.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “American Underdog is based on a football player’s unlikely true story of ascending to the heights of the game. This biopic features moments of drama, comedy, romance, nostalgia, frustration and religious events that will touch your core.”  Eshaan M. adds, “A touching, inspiring real life story that will have you hooked, American Underdog is the sports film you want to be watching this Christmas! American Underdog teaches the virtues of perseverance and hard work. Kurt Warner didn’t get what he wanted the first time, so he worked his tail off and earned it. Sure, he was dejected when sent home from the Green Bay Packers after a day on the team. But he didn’t let it stop him. See their full reviews and Ethan’s interview with the director below.

American Underdog 
Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13


American Underdog is based on a football player’s unlikely true story of ascending to the heights of the game. This biopic features moments of drama, comedy, romance, nostalgia, frustration and religious events that will touch your core. 


This magnificent movie is about the legendary NFL quarterback, Kurt Warner (Zachary Levi) and his wife Brenda (Anna Paquin). This is the first faith and family film released by Lionsgate on Christmas Day. The movie depicts Warner’s journey from college all the way till he makes it to the NFL. During that journey, Warner meet his wife, goes through tough and challenging situations with Brenda and her sons, and he has to make a living—on top of all that, he struggles with being drafted into the NFL. My favorite part of this movie is the ending. Why? Because is a mixture of video showing real plays combined with scenes created for the movie. To see Kurt Warner executing his plays in real life gives the audience a sense of motivation and happiness, and sends the message that nothing is impossible when you have hope and faith.

The moral of this film is to never give up on your dreams, no matter how impossible they look or what it takes. Every time you fall, stand up. Every time you fail, try again. Have faith in yourself and in God, or the higher power, that you can achieve whatever you focus on or put your mind to.


I give American Underdog 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 10 to 18 plus adults. The movie releases in theaters on Christmas Day, December 25, 2021.

American Underdog

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

A touching, inspiring real life story that will have you hooked, American Underdog is the sports film you want to be watching this Christmas!

American Underdog follows NFL quarterback Kurt Warner (Zachary Levi) and his journey from bagging groceries, to the struggles of being an undrafted player, to playing arena football, to playing for the then, St. Louis Rams. While he’s experiencing ups and downs in his career, Warner also must balance his vacillating family life. It’s a saga for the ages, and it’s all true!

The production team of American Underdog led by Andrew and Jon Erwin don’t let a single detail go – the acting, music, cinematography and script of this film are all incredible. Zachary Levi owns his role as Kurt Warner, harmonizing the characteristic toughness of a NFL player with the emotions of a husband, son, dad and teammate. Dennis Quaid’s portrayal of head coach Richard Vermeil deserves a round of applause as well, and for a similar reason. It feels as if Quaid must have been a coach at one point. In his role as Vermeil, Quaid unrelentingly pushes Levi’s character, but encourages and supports him in equal measure.

American Underdog teaches the virtues of perseverance and hard work. Kurt Warner didn’t get what he wanted the first time, so he worked his tail off and earned it. Sure, he was dejected when sent home from the Green Bay Packers after a day on the team. But he didn’t let it stop him.

I give American Underdog 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to18, plus adults. American Underdog releases in theaters December 25, 2021.

Dragons: The Nine Realms * Fun, Action-Packed, Animated Series To Entertain Young Kids Everywhere

Set 1,300 years after the events of How To Train Your Dragon, dragons are now just a legend to the modern world. When a geological anomaly opens up an immense, miles-deep fissure in the Earth’s surface, scientists from all over the world gather at a new research facility to study the mysterious phenomenon. Soon a group of misfit kids, brought to the site by their parents, uncover the truth about dragons and where they’ve been hiding — a secret they must keep to themselves to protect what they’ve discovered. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “Dragons: The Nine Realms is a fun, animated, action-packed and mystical kids TV series that will entertain young kids everywhere! Anyone who is a fan of the How to Train Your Dragon movie franchise and/or loves dragons and themes of friendship and uniqueness will enjoy watching the series, set 1,300 after the Dragon films…” See her full review and interview below.

Dragons: The Nine Realms
By Tiana S. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Dragons: The Nine Realms is a fun, animated, action-packed and mystical kids TV series that will entertain young kids everywhere! Anyone who is a fan of the How to Train Your Dragon movie franchise and/or loves dragons and themes of friendship and uniqueness will enjoy watching the series, set 1,300 after the Dragon films, Dragons: The Nine Realms features a group of kids: Tom Kullersen (Jeremy Shada), Jun Wong (Ashley Liao), D’Angelo Baker (Marcus Scribner) and Alex Gonzalez (Aimee Garcia) who form a group called The Dragon Club. The group starts after Tom breaks the rules and travels deep into Earth into a place called the Fissure and they end up befriending a dragon who is hiding there with other dragons. Now, it’s up to The Dragon Club to unite, protect the dragons from getting hurt and to save the dragons’ homes from being destroyed.

One of my favorite scenes in Dragons: The Nine Realms is when a sheep randomly shows up and tries to blow the cover of the kids who were trying to keep their dragons a secret. The sheep constantly tries to sneak up on them or make noise to blow their cover, so it is funny how the kids always have a “not again” moment but are still able to avoid the sheep. I also love how each character is unique, but they come together and have fun with each other like they are one of a kind. My favorite character is Alex Gonzalez because of her combination of personality traits.  She is really into electronics and anything that has to do with cameras or using advanced technology, and yet she also is willing to help out others and make friends. Alex will even break some rules, though she is very introverted and shy person at first, which seems to make her an unlikely rule-breaker.

The message of Dragons: The Nine Realms is to be yourself, take time to appreciate who you are and stand up for what you believe in. Coming together is a key theme: all the characters have different personalities and beliefs in this series, but they all come together in The Dragon Club and protect the dragons from their parents who may harm them with their experiments.

I rate Dragons: The Nine Realms 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 10. You can find Dragons: The Nine Realms streaming on Hulu and Peacock starting December 23, 2021.

Jeremy Shada, Ashley Liao, Marcus Scribner, Aimee Garcia, Julia Stiles,

May Wong voiced by Lauren Tom, Keston John, Pavar Snipe, Justina Machado, Angelique Cabral, D’arcy Carden, Carrie Keranen

Trailer:

Portal Runner * New, Captivating Movie With So Many Twists And Turns And Never A Dull Moment

When 15-year-old Nolan discovers a secret family legacy and a portal that enables him to travel to parallel worlds, it’s a young boy’s dream come true … until it becomes a nightmare when he realizes he’s being pursued across the ages by an evil force. When he becomes stranded on Christmas in an alternate timeline with his quirky family and a rebellious and petulant older sister he’s never met before, he realizes Mae may be the key to defeating his adversary and must enlist her help fast … before it’s too late for them all.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Maica N. comments, “Portal Runner is a new, captivating movie with so many twists and turns there is never a dull moment. Up-and-coming actors use an interesting plot to turn this film into a memorable one. Portal Runner has the potential to become a fan favorite.” Ayden P. adds, “Portal Runner is very different from traditional holiday films. Even the name, Portal Runner, is titled differently from most holiday films. The fact that the film takes place around the holidays seems secondary to the actual events of the film.” Tom W. (Adult reviewer) wraps it up with, “Portal Runner is a great horror film that also qualifies as a family film. The character development between two siblings, Mea and Nolan, is worth noting. They go from siblings that hate each other to a duo willing to collaborate to solve an issue. I love all the sound effects and music, the props (especially the cooker-like appliance that is the cause of the all the horror) and the main character, Nolan, who is willing to sacrifice himself to stop all the unfortunate things that are happening in the house.” See their full reviews below.  

Portal Runner

By Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 14

Portal Runner is a new, captivating movie with so many twists and turns there is never a dull moment. Up-and-coming actors use an interesting plot to turn this film into a memorable one. Portal Runner has the potential to become a fan favorite.

The film Portal Runner follows a young boy, named Nolan (Sloane Morgan Siegel), who was living a perfectly normal life, until he discovered a portal to other worlds. When he realizes that he is actually being targeted by an evil force, he ends up on the run, going between parallel worlds. With the help of his sister Mae (Elise Eberle), he must try to stop the evil force before it’s too late.

Something that impressed me in this film is the way the tone matches the plot and the different scenes. Director Cornelia Duryee clearly knows exactly what she wanted this film to look like, and conveys it precisely. In the scene where Nolan is being chased by the evil force, it is dark and the music grows increasingly intense. When watching, the audience feels the same kind of fear that the characters are feeling. It has a small cast and that actually benefits this particular film as the scenes seem more intimate and it’s easier for the audience to understand the dialogue. The actor that really stands out for me is Elise Eberle who plays Mae, Nolan’s sister. She is very versatile character; she is sly, rebellious, scared, angry and lovable at different points of the film. Elise Eberle’s performance definitely delivers that. Portal Runner is a movie that will entice you to watch it multiple times, especially if you’re a sci-fi fan and like time travel related films.

The main message is that sometimes you need to sacrifice things in order to help the people you care about. There are lots of times when Nolan and Mae want to focus on themselves and what they want, but they eventually come to terms with the fact that their family needs them more.

I rate Portal Runner 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. Portal Runner releases on VOD December 10, 2021.

Portal Runner

By Ayden P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Portal Runner is very different from traditional holiday films. Even the name, Portal Runner, is titled differently from most holiday films. The fact that the film takes place around the holidays seems secondary to the actual events of the film.

The story is about a 15-year-old named Nolan (Sloane Morgan Siegel) who has the ability to travel to parallel worlds. Noah is also cursed because he is chased through the parallel worlds by a monstrous evil. The parallel world includes family members, like a sister Mae (Elise Eberle), that Nolan doesn’t have in his true world. Once the portal stops working, Nolan must make allies and dig deep to destroy the creature before it destroys him.

Portal Runner maintains a good and interesting story line. That is, once you get past the beginning, which is a little confusing. The writers allow the viewers to figure out that Nolan is able to travel to parallel worlds by watching the movie. Although later that is explained. It may take a younger audience a few minutes to catch on to this. Overall, the characters are believable as family members and we observe Nolan’s character grow and become more caring as he interacts with family across the parallel world. Both Uncle Boon (Brian S. Lewis) and Carol Roscoe (Klara/Mom) bring some comic relief and serve to help the film stay family friendly. There is definitely more room to explore Nolan’s relationship with his extended family in the parallel world and how that shows him what he is missing in his world. Perhaps a sequel is in sight.

The message of the film is that sometimes we need the help of loved ones to fight our demons. Another message is to spend as much time as you can with you family because it could be over in a blink of an eye.

I give Portal Runner 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Portal Runner releases on VOD December 10, 2021.

Portal Runner
By Tom W., KIDS FIRST!

Portal Runner is a great horror film that also qualifies as a family film. The character development between two siblings, Mea and Nolan, is worth noting. They go from siblings that hate each other to a duo willing to collaborate to solve an issue. I love all the sound effects and music, the props (especially the cooker-like appliance that is the cause of the all the horror) and the main character, Nolan, who is willing to sacrifice himself to stop all the unfortunate things that are happening in the house.

The story follows Nolan, the main character, as he discovers a portal that allows him to travel to parallel worlds. But things start to fall apart when he realizes that he is not alone. He tries to fight off the monster by himself and fails to do so. When he is all alone he uses the portal, which causes him to be with his family and a sister that doesn’t exist in his “real” life. Their relationship develops from him mistrusting the sister to realizing that she might be the one to remove the evil force and the two of them would have a race against the clock.

There are certain aspects of this film that are pretty scary such as when the monster shows its deformity. The sound effects and visual effects make it feel like a horror film. The parts where Nolan argues with his sister are perhaps too realistic, especially for someone who had argued with their own siblings. The movie flows well. The characters, Nolan and Mae, develop from argumentative siblings to ones that can work with each other to solve the problem of how to get rid of the evil force. Their relationship definitely drew me in, in terms of how they develop. I enjoyed the background music, which is tense and eerie, suitable for a horror movie. At other times there is upbeat music, such as when the family is celebrating Christmas. The costumes, in particular the monster’s costume, are fitting. The sets, especially the one in the garage or basement where Nolan’s uncle is setting up the Christmas tree, are typical family settings. The story does encourage ways of problem solving. For instance, when the monster approaches Mea and her mother, they come up with a temporary solution of restraining the monster. The entire process of how Mea and Nolan collaborate to remove the curse is another example of problem solving.

The message is that teamwork is the key to success. You should be aware that there are references to Hitler, smoking weed and a shooting.

I give Portal Runner 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Portal Runner releases on VOD December 10, 2021.

Harriet the Spy * A Sweet Series Bringing Back To Life A Classic Character

Set in 1960s New York when the original book was published, Harriet the Spy follows the outspoken and perpetually curious 11-year-old Harriet M. Welsch. More than anything, Harriet wants to be a writer, and in order to be a good writer, she’ll need to know everything. And to know everything means she’ll need to spy … on everyone! Produced by The Jim Henson Company, the animated series stars acclaimed actor Beanie Feldstein as Harriet, a fiercely independent and adventurous 11-year-old girl, alongside Emmy Award winner Jane Lynch as Ole Golly, Harriet’s larger-than-life, no-nonsense nanny. The first half of the series (five episodes) debuts on Apple TV+ on Friday, November 19, 2021, and the second half will return with additional episodes in spring 2022. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “A sweet series bringing back to life a classic character, Apple TV+’s Harriet the Spy is a fun watch, though its animation doesn’t break any barriers. Each episode of Harriet the Spy has a nuanced lesson – finding comfort in isolation, discovering yourself, and setting boundaries are just a few examples.” See his full review below.

Harriet the Spy

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

A sweet series bringing back to life a classic character, Apple TV+’s Harriet the Spy is a fun watch, though its animation doesn’t break any barriers.

Harriet the Spy follows 11-year-old Harriet M. Welch (Beanie Feldstein), the same wannabe spy popularized by Louise Fitzhugh’s 1964 books. She’s a normal kid, attending a prep school with her friends in an indeterminate time without cell phones and with nannies wearing tight updos. What sets Harriet apart from her classmates, though, is that she embarks upon unique espionage adventures across New York City in a quest to become the best writer and best spy ever. It is unfortunate that only one of the five episodes in the first season deals directly with spying. Regardless, Harriet’s adventures are enjoyable in their sheer otherworldliness. For example, she uses a dumbwaiter to spy on a weary aristocrat.

Feldstein’s voice acting provides the series with a warm tone, and most of the humor springs from her dialogue. There are also a few comedy Easter eggs thrown in there – see if you can catch one in episode 2! The animation is clean and colorful, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. There are lots of hand-drawn lines with an emphasis on natural movement. I wish the animation team had tried something out of the box for Harriet, who truly is an out-of-the-box kind of gal. The show is easy to digest, and very addicting — each of the five episodes in season 1 is 20 to 25 minutes long, and you won’t be able to stop watching!

Each episode of Harriet the Spy has a nuanced lesson – finding comfort in isolation, discovering yourself, and setting boundaries are just a few examples.

I give Harriet the Spy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. The first five episodes aired on November 19, 2021 and five more will air in Spring, 2022.