Cute, Fun, Family-friendly DVD based on the award-winning book and TV series.

Llama Llama springs to life in these heart-warming tales based on the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney. Join Llama Llama, Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep and Gilroy Goat as they explore their friendly hometown and make childhood memories. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Cadence G. comments, “I like the Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD because every episode has a different main idea with an interesting story to tell. The animated characters each have their own thoughts about things and how to approach a situation.” Ruby A., follows with, “Llama Llama Family Fun Collection is a cute, fun, and family-friendly DVD that is based on an award-winning book and TV series. The storyline and adorable personalities of the characters combine to make the viewing experience enjoyable. The characters’ companionship is very sweet, and they care a lot about one another. They always have each other’s back.” Christine R. wraps it with, “Upbeat, positive messages about friendship and family make these great for family viewing.” See their full reviews below.

Llama Llama Family Fun Collection
By Cadence G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

I like the Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD because every episode has a different main idea with an interesting story to tell. The animated characters each have their own thoughts about things and how to approach a situation. The only part I didn’t really like is that the characters sometimes talk too slow and you want to make them talk faster, but it probably makes it easier for little kids to understand. 

The Llama Llama Family Collection has 15 episodes and is based on the book series written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney. The animated collection is about a llama and his friends who have awesome adventures together. Each episode has a moral to the story. For example, in one of the episodes, Luna (a giraffe, voiced by Vania Gill) is very scared to go on stage to perform a solo in front of an audience. Then Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu get a dance machine and it really helps Luna lose her fear of performing in front of an audience.  Another story tells about Llama Llama, Euclid and Gilroy Goat having a sleepover, where they experience new and different things while at a friend’s house. I know when I go to a sleepover, I find myself trying a new food or doing any activity that I wouldn’t necessarily have done at my house.

I didn’t recognize the voices of any of the characters, although after looking at who does the voices, I recognize Jennifer Garner, who voices Mama Llama. I like Luna’s personality, but my favorite character is Euclid (Brendon Sunderland). He’s smart, but in a funny way. I like when the group of friends take swimming lessons with Mama Llama in Eleanor Elephant’s (Kathleen Barr) pool. Even though Llama Llama (Shayle Simons) isn’t a great swimmer, his friends are supportive. And it is cute seeing Llama Llama’s grandpa (David Hoole) learn to swim, too.

The message of the film is to be nice to others. It’s important to help your friends, rather than make fun of them or bring them down. When I see someone making fun of someone, I try to stand up for them. It is nice to watch a film where a group of friends support one another.

I rate this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 9. This DVD is available now, so go look for it!

Llama Llama Family Fun CollectionBy Ruby A. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Llama Llama Family Fun Collection is a cute, fun, and family-friendly DVD that is based on an award-winning book and TV series. The storyline and adorable personalities of the characters combine to make the viewing experience enjoyable. The characters’ companionship is very sweet, and they care a lot about one another. They always have each other’s back.

The Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD is collection of episodes about a group of animal companions that go on a lot of adventures, meet new friends and solve problems along the way. In one episode, Llama Llama’s friend, Luna the Giraffe, struggles with bad stage fright. She has a dance recital the next day. Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu have to help her, or she won’t be able to perform without becoming nervous on stage. In another episode, Llama Llama and two of his friends, Gilroy Goat and Euclid Sheep, plan a sleepover together. What they don’t know is that strange things will happen just as they are about to go to sleep. But maybe the friends’ imaginations will wander too far…

Some of the lead characters are Mama Llama (Jennifer Garner) and Llama Llama (Shayle Simons). They are an adorable mother-son duo, and they love each other very much. What really stands out in this collection  is the incredibly detailed and expressive animation. The vibrant colors and homey scenery go hand in hand to create a wholesome, fun show for children and their families to watch. It really is a great choice for teaching good lessons to young minds. 

The message of the DVD Llama Llama Family Fun Collection   is that you should always be willing to help your friends, and that problems can be solved through the effort of a team. It is definitely successful in communicating its message through the close-knit friend group, and how they stick together and help each other face their fears. The message is definitely positive and uplifting, and can teach young children that companionship is an important life skill to have. There really isn’t anything to worry about when children are watching this series. There is no bad language at all, and there isn’t any negative behavior that young children may attempt to imitate. 

I give this series 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 2 to 10.  The Llama Llama Family Fun Collection  DVD is available now

Llama Llama Family Fun CollectionBy Christine R., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer

The Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD features the animated friends from Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama book series in 15 stories, including holiday stories for Halloween, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. The friends learn to use their unique talents with some creativity to overcome day to day problems by following grown up advice and helping each other. In “Stage Fright,” Luna Giraffe’s upcoming dance recital is giving her performance jitters, but Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu are there to offer support, calming breaths and remind her to just have fun. Nelly Gnu is jealous of the attention her baby brother receives in the story “Jealous Nelly.” Her new tree-house takes a backseat to babysitting and party planning for the baby. She misses her parents’ and friends’ attention, but soon realizes that being a big sister is the perfect role for her. The friends accept the challenge to do without their electronic gadgets when Grandma Llama and Mama Llama take them on an overnight campout in “Let’s Go Camping.” They use their five senses to appreciate the sights and sounds of nature. Upbeat, positive messages about friendship and family make these great for family viewing. Children ages 4 to  8 should enjoy these fun, engaging episodes. I give this 5 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Christine R., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Money Problems

Talking to your kids about money can be uncomfortable, awkward, and at times, even frustrating; this is especially true if you and your family are in financial trouble. As a parent that may be in financial trouble, it’s important to not worry about your kids; its best to keep financial issues separate from your relationship with them. However, in some cases, your children may need to know to some extent that you are tight on money; perhaps if he or she is having a hard time understanding why he or she can’t do something.

If this situation does occur, it’s best to know how to talk to your kids about money without worrying or confusing them, this article will do just that.

Tips for Talking About Finances With Your Kids

A Philadelphia bankruptcy lawyer pointed out that in order to have a constructive conversation about money with your kids, it’s best to stay calm and about finances in a way that they will understand and will impact them. Here are some more tips to keep in mind as you talk about finances with your kids:

Be Honest With Your Kids

Though you don’t need to tell your kids the details of your money issues, it’s important to talk to them about how this happened and what you are doing to solve this issue. Not only will this create an open and truthful relationship between you and your kids, but it will also allow them to understand more.

Being honest will allow kids to ask questions and have a better grasp of what’s going on in terms of finances. If a child doesn’t know the extent of the “money problem” you keep referring to, he or she may get frustrated and angry with you because they don’t know the severity of the problem.

Turn the Conversation into a Learning Lesson

Money problems are one of the most stressful situations for a family to have to go through. And as they are occurring, they can cause tension in a household. Though at times this will be frustrating and hard, its best to try to turn this into a learning lesson for your kids.

Building off of the point of being honest with your kids, you have the opportunity to turn this unfortunate circumstance into a learning lesson. You can teach your kids how to not make any of the same mistakes and you can speak first hand about the importance of staying on top of finances. This conversation and learning lesson will likely have a positive impact on them and they will remember these points for the rest of their lives.

Try to Look on the Bright Side

It’s going to be hard to focus on the positive during this trying time, however, as a parent, you need to try to look on the bright side of things. Looking on the bright side is important for two main reasons:

  1. You have to portray a good example to your kids and still be the best parent you can be.
  2. You have the chance to teach your kids different kinds of values.

You need to remain a good role model for your kids no matter your financial circumstances. Similarly, you can teach your children to value different things in life that don’t cost money. For example, in order to look on the bright side of financial issues, you can teach your kids the importance of going outside and riding bikes instead of spending money on a new video game. Or, you can teach your kids to prioritize family game night over going out to dinner at a fancy restaurant. 

Mention Concepts Rather Than Figures

Your kids don’t need to know the specifics of your salary or the amount of debt you may be in. Instead, as you talk about finances with your kids, talk about concepts such as budgeting, how debt works, credit, and the importance of prioritizing. These concepts will not only teach your kids, but they will also give them a look into the “real world.”

Talking figures will only worry and confuse your kids, make sure to talk generally rather than specifically.

Start Talking Today

Even if you aren’t in financial trouble, talking to your kids about money is something to consider doing sooner rather than later.  It’s always a good time to talk with your kids about money; and if you do happen to be in financial trouble, don’t wait. Talking about money with your kids is something that will benefit them for the rest of your life, start the conversation today.

 

About the Author

Veronica Baxter is a legal assistant and blogger living and working in the great city of Philadelphia and frequently works with David Offen, Esq., a busy Philadelphia bankruptcy lawyer. She lives in a renovated south Philly rowhome with her husband John, their two rescue poodles, Connor and Camelot, a full aquarium of African Cichlids, and several rescue cats (the number changes almost daily!).

Rufus, March 12th Pet of the Week!

From his smiling face to the white tip of his wagging tail, Rufus has good looks and the personality to match them. Not only that, but unlike a few of us humans, he knows his left from his right and will give you a hearty high-five with either paw. Sometimes, he’ll use both! Rufus is an 8-year-old metallic gray pittie who is also equal parts play and cuddle. Meet him at the P. D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village, 7700 East Spring St., (562) 570-PETS. Ask for ID# #A631971.

(The usual suspects contributed to this rescue)

Credit: Courtesy of the P.D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village.

MEET PEPPA PIG AT THE L.A. ZOO, MARCH 14-15

Meet Peppa Pig at this fun-filled weekend featuring crafts, story readings, and more; free online reservations are required in advance and fill up fast.

Get ready to jump in muddy puddles at the L.A. Zoo and take photos with Peppa Pig!  On Saturday and Sunday, March 14 and 15, Peppa Pig will be making a special appearance from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a full day of Peppa Pig-themed storytime, crafts, a kids’ dance party, and much more! High attendance is expected, and reservations are required to meet Peppa Pig.

All event activities are free with paid admission or a Zoo membership.

High attendance anticipated
FREE ADVANCE ONLINE RESERVATIONS REQUIRED.

WHERE: Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens
5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027
COSTRESERVATION REQUIRED FOR MEET-AND-GREET. All meet-and-greet activities are free with paid Zoo admission, which is $22 for general admission (ages 13 to 61); $19 for seniors (ages 62+), and $17 for children (ages 2 to 12). No ticket is required for children under age two. Admission for Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association members is free.
INFO: Visit lazoo.org/peppapig for more info and to make an online reservation.
Credit: The L.A. Zoo.

Mary Jane, March 5th Pet of the Week!

You probably don’t think “6-year-old steel-gray pit bull” when someone says “Mary Jane.” But take one look at that gently smiling face, and you’ll get why Mary Jane is Mary Jane. She’s the kind of dog who lights up the room when she walks in—happiness emanates everywhere! She’s loving, kind and lovable, and she’ll make a wonderful companion. Mary Jane can’t wait to go home—meet her at the P. D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village, 7700 East Spring St., (562) 570-PETS. Ask for ID#A639261.

(The usual suspects contributed to this rescue)

Credit: Courtesy of the P.D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village.

The Fun, Festive Holiday of Purim is Exuberant, Colorful and Full of Joy – Let PJ Library’s Unique, Family-Friendly Ideas Enliven Your Family Celebrations this March!

The early springtime holiday of Purim, with all of its festive fun, is an especially accessible holiday for children; this year, the holiday falls on March 9th-10th.

On Purim, it’s customary to listen to the biblical Book of Esther (also known as the Megillah in Hebrew), put on comic productions of the story of Purim called purimspiels (Yiddish for “plays”), dress up in costumes as the famous characters from the story, bake (and eat!) hamantaschen, shake Purim groggers (noisemakers), give gift baskets (mishloach manot) to friends and do tzedakah and other good works to spread joy and help the needy.

This Purim, PJ Library wants to help families celebrate in fun and unique ways, so they’ve created 18 great ideas sure to spur creativity and togetherness.  Whether your children have never dressed for Purim before or baked a classic, delicious hamantaschen – or you’re just tired of the same old routine – check out these enjoyable activities! And, for more, families are welcome to visit PJ Library’s Purim Hub!

If you currently receive PJ Library books, be on the lookout for the special February mailing, which contains a Purim gift basket to make and decorate!

A program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, PJ Library sends more than two hundred ten thousand expertly curated books to families raising Jewish children – every month, at no cost to subscribers. Families raising Jewish children may subscribe at http://bit.ly/2DckFee , tapping in to a wealth of information, parenting resources and community events as well as free books.

Self Disclosure: I am a part of the PJ Library Ambassadors tribe and some form of compensation has been received. Images and information are also provided.

5 Tips for Helping an Anxious Puppy

Anxiety is quite common among dogs, especially when they’re puppies. Puppies are experiencing a lot of things for the first time, and it can be quite overwhelming for them. They may be frightened of objects, sounds, or people that are new to them. One of the most common forms of anxiety is separation anxiety. If you leave your puppy alone, it will often assume you are never coming back, which can be very stressful for them.

You can reduce and even eliminate your puppy’s anxiety by using a combination of tools and training. Here are five tips for helping your anxious puppy become confident and calm.

1.      Crate training

Giving your puppy its own “safe zone” will dramatically help with anxiety. Using a crate as a base, you can train your puppy to go to its base whenever it feels scared or anxious. A crate is not to be used to lock your puppy up, but to provide a place for them to chill out. Make it comfortable for them and use treats and toys to encourage them to go into their crate. It will also make it easier when you do need to put them in the crate since they will already be comfortable with it.

2.      Desensitize your puppy

Your puppy will likely have anxiety about all new things. Once they realize they are safe and spend more time with certain things, they will begin to desensitize to it. If there is a specific object that your puppy seems nervous about, introduce them to it slowly and keep repeating. Ensure that you reward them with a treat every time they remain calm. It is a good tactic to use around people, especially if your puppy seems frightened or if they don’t like the sound of an item in your home, such as the dishwasher.

3.      Exercise

The most effective treatment for anxiety is exercise. Puppies have a ton of energy need somewhere for all that energy to go. Play fetch with them, let them run in the park, or play with another dog when you know you’re going to be leaving. Tiring them out will help them to settle down and relax when they get home.

4.      Natural supplements/alternatives

Some natural supplements and treatments can help reduce anxiety in your puppy without the concerning side effects of medication. Pheromone collars can help them relax as can compression shirts. CBD is also a common natural treatment for dogs with anxiety. CBD treats, such as the ones at ceebeedoo.com, can provide relief from stress and help your puppy calm down.

5.      Develop puppy independence

Separation anxiety is very common among puppies, and you can train them to be independent. Since they fear that you’ll abandon them, you need to teach them that it’s OK when you leave and that you’ll always come back. Building that trust takes patience and repetitive training. Train them to be confident on their own by starting with small distances of separation and build on it. For example, have them stay across the room from you and reward them. Increase the distance each time until you are in a different room. Using this method will help your dog gain independence.

Your new puppy is likely to have some form of anxiety. With a little work and a lot of love, you can help your puppy grow into a confident and independent dog.

Wendy * A Soulful Fantasy Drama Combining Drama With Adventure

Lost on a mysterious island where aging and time have come unglued, Wendy must fight to save her family, her freedom, and the joyous spirit of youth from the deadly peril of growing up. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “Wendy is the new re-imagined version of the Peter Pan story and a very thoughtful and meaningful film. It is beautifully shot, and it reminds us of the power of imagination. Wendy is a very introspective story that combines adventure with drama but is not a colorful vibrant tale—instead it is filled with some sadness and a little gloom.” Katherine S. adds, “This soulful fantasy drama drew me in from the very beginning and never let up.  It is so visually stimulating, with a lot of different camera angles and incredible stunts. The location is both beautiful and exotic. It’s the perfect setting.” See their full reviews below.

Wendy

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

Wendy is the new re-imagined version of the Peter Pan story and a very thoughtful and meaningful film. It is beautifully shot, and it reminds us of the power of imagination. Wendy is a very introspective story that combines adventure with drama but is not a colorful vibrant tale—instead it is filled with some sadness and a little gloom.

Director Benh Zeitlin co-wrote this film with his sister Eliza, a story where a little girl, Wendy, assumes the role of a mother figure to her brothers.  The story explores adulthood and the challenges of a new self-acquired freedom.

Trains pass everyday just next to Wendy’s house and everything shakes. Her life seems very methodical; she helps her mom at the dinner business that operates in the lower level of her house. On the top level, she plays and uses her imagination reading books and daydreaming about adventures. One day, when she is little, a kid disappears on top of a train in front of her pretty blue eyes. Years later, she decides to disappear on a train, too, followed by her brothers, curious to see what happens at the end of the journey. She meets Peter Pan and arrives in a remote volcano island. She also meets the kid that disappeared years ago, but he hasn’t aged. She discovers the secrets behind staying forever as a kid as she learns the importance of growing and enjoying every stage of life.

The film was shot on location, in places that represented a real challenge to the crew. Zeitlin is a passionate filmmaker who challenged himself filming in 16mm, a format that is artistic but represents more efforts, technically speaking. The format definitively adds texture and works perfectly for the story.

The young actors were excellent; they totally conveyed a wide range of emotions.

Wendy is about lots of things; definitively a coming-of-age film where Wendy deals with the fact of growing up and assuming responsibilities and being afraid of that. But it is also about family, respect for nature and grown-ups and older people. And this is probably my only issue with this film – at times, it feels that it has too many moments of symbolism which makes it hard to follow the main purpose.

The message of the film is we should always remember the good things about being a child, keeping a free spirit and use our imagination. But aging brings wisdom and we can’t change the course of life.

I give Wendy 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids age 10 to 18. Some images could be a little intense for young kids and this movie will not be very easy to understand for kids under 10. Wendy opens February 28, 2020.

Wendy

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

This soulful fantasy drama drew me in from the very beginning and never let up.  It is so visually stimulating, with a lot of different camera angles and incredible stunts. The location is both beautiful and exotic. It’s the perfect setting.

Wendy is a very different adaptation of the classic Peter Pan story. It follows a young girl named Wendy and her adventure to a mysterious island with her brothers.  Once on the island, they discover the wonders of nature, freedom and the surprising struggles of life. Wendy fights to keep her family together, while trying to stay young.

Benh Zeitlin co-wrote the screenplay with his sister, Eliza Zeitlin, and also directs the film. The awesome thing about this twosome is that they didn’t just, one day, think of this idea for a movie, but had the idea their whole lives. Benh also co-composed much of the dynamic music for the movie along with Dan Romer.  Wendy was filmed on location in the Caribbean, using 16mm film versus a reliance on green screens for background settings. It features real nature! This movie has a wonderful cast of nonprofessional kids, such as Yashua Mack, who plays a very believable Peter. Gage and Gavin Naquin, as Wendy’s brothers Douglas and James, have a visible bond with each other as brothers as well as in real life. My favorite character is Wendy (Devin France), because she is so brave, very curious, and has a kind spirit.  

The messages of this film are that it is ok to grow up, but never loose joy, hope, wonder and freedom and to confront, not escape, life’s difficulties. This movie has some mild profanity, some gory images and some very risky adventures, but the last is on purpose because they wanted these kids to be free to do fun and dangerous things.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Adults will also like this movie. Wendy opens in theaters on February 28, 2020.