Dolly Parton’s First Children’s Album ‘I Believe In You’ Proceeds to Benefit Imagination Library

Dolly Parton’s first children’s album was released nationwide this past October. All 14 tracks on I Believe In You were written and performed by Dolly Parton.

“My first album was released 50 years ago and it’s been an amazing 50 years since then. I am very excited that now I’m coming out with my first children’s album in all of those 50 years. I’m proudest of all that all of the proceeds from this CD will go to the Imagination Library,” Dolly said. “It’s been 20 years since the Imagination Library was launched. We’ve seen 100million books get into the hands of children and hopefully, there will be many more.”

Since its beginning in 1996 in Dolly’s hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee, the Imagination Library has expanded into four countries serving more than one-million children by providing a brand new, age-appropriate book each month. In North America, every child’s first book is the classic Little Engine that Could.

I previously received a copy of the CD and was impressed! I think young children will love this album!

ABOUT DOLLY PARTON
Dolly Parton is the most honored female country performer of all time. Achieving 25 RIAA certified gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards, she has had 25 songs reach #1 on the Billboard Country charts, a record for a female artist. She has 41 career top 10 country albums, a record for any artist, and she has 110 career-charted singles over the past 40 years. All-inclusive sales of singles, albums, hits collections, paid digital downloads and compilation usage during her Hall of Fame career have reportedly topped a staggering 100 million records – which includes sales of her 2016 chart-topping disc Pure & Simple, her first number one album on the Billboard Country Album charts in twenty-five years. She has garnered eight Grammy Awards – including a 2017 win with Pentatonix in the Country Duo/Group Performance category for their collaboration on her iconic 1973 hit “Jolene” – 10 Country Music Association Awards, five Academy of Country Music Awards, three American Music Awards and is one of only five female artists to win the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year Award. In 1999 Parton was inducted as a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. She has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and became a member of the National Academy of Popular Music Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001. Broadcast Music Inc. honored Parton with their Icon Award in 2003, and in 2004 the U.S. Library of Congress presented her with their Living Legend Award for her contribution to the cultural heritage of the United States. This was followed in 2005 with the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor given by the U.S. government for excellence in the arts. The honors keep coming. The 2016 made for television movie, Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love is nominated in the “Television Movie” category for the 69th Annual Emmy Awards. The film also won in the TV and Cable category at the 68th Annual Christopher Awards, which also includes the Movieguide Epiphany Prize for Television. The film served as the follow-up to her highly rated 2015 film Coat Of Many Colors, also broadcast on NBC, which won the Academy of Country Music’s Tex Ritter Award. In 2017, Dolly will release “I Believe In You,” a collection of children’s songs on Dolly Records through her partnership with Sony Music Nashville.

ABOUT DOLLY PARTON’S IMAGINATION LIBRARY:
Founded in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting organization that has, to date, mailed more than 100 million books to children in Australia, Belize, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States. Each month, the program currently mails more than one million specially selected, high-quality, age-appropriate books to registered children from birth until they start Kindergarten in participating communities. Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading in children, preparing them for school and inspiring them to dream. Recent studies suggest participation in the Imagination Library is positively and significantly associated with higher measures of early language and math development. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Self Disclosure: I received a free CD to facilitate this post. Images and information were also provided.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Just as Mind-Boggling As The Others!

Following the events of The Force Awakens, Rey begins her Jedi training under Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled about Rey’s immense strength with the Force. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to continue the fight against the First Order, which is led by Kylo Ren and the mysterious Snoke. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Michelle C. comments, “…my only hope was that Star Wars: The Last Jedi would be just as mind-boggling as the others. Shame on me for ever doubting the legendary billion-dollar franchise, because (spoiler alert): It is!” Arjun N. adds, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi lives up to the hype because of its wonderful story and action. The acting has never been better for the series. This is sure to be a hit for all Star Wars fans.” Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror, wraps it up with, “Loyal audiences won’t be disappointed! From the traditional opening scroll to the non-stop, action-packed 2:32 hours of characters new, known and loved, writer-director Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi is fantastic.” See their full reviews below.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi lives up to the hype because of its wonderful story and action. The acting has never been better for the series. This is sure to be a hit for all Star Wars fans.

The story follows the events set in place after Star Wars: The Force Awakens when Rey (Daisy Ridley) turns to the legendary Jedi, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), for help to turn the tide of the desperate battle between the Resistance and the First Order. However, Luke has lost all hope after his failure of letting Ben Solo (Adam Driver) become Kylo Ren. While trying to convince Luke, Rey further learns to control her ties with the Force, while learning mysteries of the past. Meanwhile, the First Order learns an advanced battle tactic that could destroy the Resistance under Leia (Carrie Fisher). This leads to a newly awakened Finn (John Boyega) forming an unlikely team with the smart Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and the determined Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), to save the Resistance.

Daisy Ridley, as Rey, excellently presents her newly learned powers and her inner battle between the light and the dark side as her character progresses to become an epic hero, like Luke. Mark Hamill, as Luke Skywalker, is the highlight of the movie and he is also my favorite character, due to his long-awaited return as the character, which delivers on all grounds. He delivers a more brooding edge to character as a hopeless Jedi who is adamant on his choices. Adam Driver, as Kylo Ren, is an incredible villain with well-developed motives, as you can feel his inner conflict with the Dark Side. Carrie Fisher, as Leia, delivers an impressive posthumous performance as the tactical leader of the Resistance. Her character is also tied up in a way that respects the actor. John Boyega, as Finn, delivers an excellent performance as his character stops being a coward and transforms into a brave rebel for the Resistance. Kelly Marie Tran, as Rose, is smart and resourceful in her team up with Finn. Oscar Isaac, as Poe Dameron, is a true maverick who refuses to follow orders for the safety of people.

Rian Johnson wonderful directs every scenic location, whether it is from the desolate ship of the First Order to the abandoned, yet beautiful landscapes of Crait. My favorite scene is the one  where a certain choice must be made, on the side of Kylo to Rey. My only problem with this movie is that, while the perfomances between Finn and Rose are superb, their subplot drags the movie in a slower middle act. However, this a short part of a long movie is full of story and battles.

The message of the movie is about finding hope. The Resistance is put through extreme threats from the First Order, but they find a way to battle it with hope. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 because of its intense action. The movie releases in theaters on December 15, 2017, so check it out.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

By Michelle C., KIDS FIRST! Critic, age 19

As I sat back in the comfy leather seats and watched the star-dusted opening credits roll out in front of me, I reminisced about what it felt like watching the Star Wars series for the first time. It has been a long time since that happened and my only hope was that Star Wars: The Last Jedi would be just as mind-boggling as the others. Shame on me for ever doubting the legendary billion-dollar franchise, because (spoiler alert): It is!

If you haven’t seen the previous installment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, then I highly recommend you grab some friends to watch it with and get yourself back on track. Otherwise, you will be in for a big surprise. For those who have seen it, then you know that Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) makes an iconic return to the big screen and this time, with a vengeance. Luke went into hiding, undetected, to the Porg-infested island of Ahch-To to die. Rey (Daisy Ridley) has a mission to bring Luke back to fight the Resistance as war is once again brewing against the First Order. Millions of porg-encounters later, Rey finally persuades Luke to lend her his knowledge in combat, leaving Luke unsettled by the strength of her powers.

This time around, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) leads the Resistance due to unforeseen circumstances. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Holdo go head to head as he refuses to follow Holdo’s rules. This creates major conflict in the storyline, as some things don’t necessarily go as planned during combat. We are also introduced to a new lead character, Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), a maintenance worker that guards the escape pods. She bonds with Finn (John Boyega) as she takes him to her wealthy home of Canto Bight. Though, there’s so much more to this planet than meets the eye.

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) remains high and mighty, just for show. It’s evident that he hides something deep within, something he cannot control – a slight hint of compassion. After a head-to-head conflict with Rey and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), the film finally reveals who he truly is.

Now that you have an idea of what the film is about, let’s talk about the magic that goes on behind-the-scenes. To be quite honest, the writing has its lows. There are moments when the audience would let out an uncomfortable laugh due to the awkward, juvenile jokes that we know certain characters would never say or do. It felt somewhat out-of-touch with the Star Wars franchise, especially since they are thrown in during the most serious, suspenseful scenes.  Despite that, the rest of the screenplay is groundbreaking. It gives the audience what they want and what they didn’t know they needed. Also, the cinematography is phenomenal. Shooting in locations such as Ireland and Croatia, the visual effects team make it seem as though they are off in a galaxy far, far away, without straying from its natural beauty. Special effects, as always, are mind-blowing. It’s nearly impossible not to fathom lightsabers being real. Top it all off with detailed costume design and award-winning acting, and you’ve got yourself a masterpiece.

Ultimately, Star Wars: The Last Jedi exceeded far beyond my expectations, and I urge you to go out with your Jedi Knight robes and lightsabers and experience it on the big screen. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18 as well as adults. It opens December 15, 2017 in U.S. theaters so, go check it out.

Stars Wars: The Last Jedi

By Kimbirly O. KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Loyal audiences won’t be disappointed! From the traditional opening scroll to the non-stop, action-packed 2:32 hours of characters new, known and loved, writer-director Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi is fantastic. As I watched the film, I thought about the yeoman’s task to step into George Lucas’ world, filled with beloved characters, and continuing the tale between good and evil, light and dark, all within The Force. After all, Johnson is known for film shorts and episodic television, not movie studio franchise blockbusters.

When we first see our hero, Luke, (Mark Hamill) I could not help but consider, “if Skywalker lives, hope lives.” Hope is a central theme of this film and is voiced several times by Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega). Only Poe (Oscar Isaac) seems to have a less than optimistic view of the tasks at hand.

Rey demands Luke teach her the Jedi ways. She delivers Darth Vader’s lightsaber to him almost as an offering. Luke declines to show her the Jedi religion telling her there are no more Jedi’s. As he painfully explains the path his nephew, Ben Solo (Adam Driver) took from light, as a Jedi trainee, to dark as Kylo Ren, the pain is palpable. As Yoda later reminds us, “The greatest teacher is failure.”

Carrie Fisher’s final performance as Princess Leia is compelling and often funny. She reminds many crew members, “May The Force Be With You” often. At one point, her admonition to Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) is funny. In fact, there are many humorous bits within the film, humanizing the war among the worlds and battles within deep space. When we meet the Porgs, I laughed aloud at their antics, especially when they take flight with Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). The lessons in the film, spoken by various characters are impactful. My favorite is “saving what we love is the only way we fight hate.”

Given the performances of the young actors, and possibilities at the end of the film, I wonder, can this story go on forever? As Luke aptly reminds us, “no one is ever really gone”. Thank you, Luke. May we all know peace and purpose. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 as well as adults. Some battle scenes could be too intense for younger children.

 

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

 

 

Books that would make great gifts!

For the little fishes on your Christmas list, consider ALL FISH FACES: Photos and Fun Facts about Tropical Reef Fish. This special book was created by Tam Warner Minton, an empty-nester turned solo world traveler, who created this book to help children learn all about the colorful tropical fish faces beneath the sea.

ALL FISH FACES shows you up-close images of tropical reef fish while providing educational facts. Proceeds from the book will benefit the Marine Megafauna Foundation, which strives to keep the ocean clean, safe, and healthy for all.

Minton hopes readers will understand the importance of ocean conservation through her work. She is specifically empowered with educating children on this topic. Her hope is that the close-up images of tropical fish will help humanize the undersea world.

This is an educational and fun book for children of all ages! You can find it easily on Amazon.com.

Love cake? You will love this book! Cake, I Love You by Jill O’Connor.

This is a beautiful book that will make you want to bake a cake! It has more than 50 divinely decadent recipes home bakers will want to make right away. I really like that these aren’t a bunch of complicated cake recipes. They really are beautiful cakes and the recipes are easy to follow! There are so many different cake recipes and I loved a banana one that I made.

This book can also be found on Amazon.com.

 

Beasts from Bricks by Ekow Nimako

Amazing LEGO® Designs for Animals from Around the World – With 15 Step-by-Step Projects

 

Hold mighty beasts in the palm of your hand! In Beasts from Bricks, LEGO® artist and designer Ekow Nimako shows us how to re-create wild animals in stunning detail. The book presents illustrated step-by-step instructions for building 15 animals from around the world: Africa, Europe, Asia, the Arctic, Oceania, Central/South America, the Caribbean, and North America. Each set of instructions includes entertaining and educational information about the animal’s characteristics and habitat. Also included is a bonus gallery of Nimako’s more complex, large-scale animal designs. This one can be found at Target, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

 

 

How to Build Brick Cars by Peter Blackert

Detailed LEGO® Designs for Sports Cars, Race Cars, and Muscle Cars

Brick fans, start your engines! With How to Build Brick Cars, readers will tap into their inner creativity as they build their way through classic and contemporary sports cars, race cars, and muscle cars. Each build was designed by Peter Blackert, one of the world’s foremost custom builders in the brick world as well as a real-life car designer for the Ford Motor Company, and features informative and historical text about each car, step-by-step instructions, and STEM skills masquerading as LEGO® fun!

 Look for this one at Target, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.

 

I love this next one!  THE ART OF THE MOULIN ROUGE.

Since 1889, the world-famous Moulin Rouge dinner revue has celebrated the essence of Parisian joie de vivre or “Joy for Life”. Through the ages, artists of all kinds have been attracted to the vibrancy and vivacity of the Moulin Rouge. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec found inspiration in the Cancan and the impertinence of La Belle Epoque or “The Beautiful Era” that was late 19th-Century Paris. During the 1920s, Mistinguett, the “Queen of the Dance Hall” played muse to the young sketcher Gesmar. Since then, artists have continued to produce hundreds of paintings, prints, posters, and drawings that capture life as a performer in one of the most iconic venues in the world. Fans of Toulouse-Lautrec and the Moulin Rouge will enjoy The Art of the Moulin Rouge. Filled with coloring pages, dot-to-dot puzzles, and color-by-number templates based on the theatre’s most famous posters and program art, coloring enthusiasts will enjoy adding their own unique spin to these legendary and symbolic works of post-impressionism. Following a brief introduction to color theory and ideas for working in different color mediums, present-day artists will embark on a creative journey through time to celebrate the lush lifestyles that epitomize Parisian culture as seen through the portals of the storied Moulin Rouge. Thirty full-color Moulin Rouge postcards are also included in this beautiful book.

THE ART OF THE MOULIN ROUGE includes:

  • Coloring pages, dot-to-dot puzzles, and color-by-number templates inspired by the famous poster art of the Moulin Rouge.
  • An introduction to basic color theory and working with different mediums, as well as finished samples for inspiration.
  • Thirty full-color, postcard-size cutouts of famous Moulin Rouge posters and artwork.

This amazing book can be found on Amazon.com.

Launching a new chapter book series from IRA Children’s Book Award-winner, Michelle Houts, the Lucy’s Lab series draws on STEM themes and is aligned with curriculum guidelines to bring a love of science to young readers, inspiring them to start their own labs and explore their world.

When Logan’s mom builds him a robot cousin, it’s nothing but trouble, especially with the science fair coming up in Science No Fair! When Java becomes a ball hog, Logan’s plan to win back the spotlight short circuits in Soccer Shocker! Next, in My Robot Ate My Homework Logan better stop using Java to do his work and hit the books so he doesn’t flunk out. And in Phone-y Friends Java’s attempt to find some friends of his own doesn’t quite go as planned.

An Unofficial Overworld Heroes Adventure
Fans of Minecraft will race to the end of this first installment in the Unofficial Overworld Heroes Adventure series by Danica Davidson!
The books above can be found on Amazon.com.

ACTIVATE your thinking muscles. It’s too easy just to turn on the TV and let the images of the day wash over us, leaving brain cells unchallenged and a bit sad. Keep your brain happy with this mind stretching collection of puzzles. Crosswords, word searches, trivia, logic and numerical games—these teasers are all designed to inspire and stimulate the mind. So turn off the dreaded box and turn to Mind Stretchers—you’ll be entertained, learn new things, wake up your brain and it’s definitely more fun than watching the news.

Price: $12.99     Purchase Here

It’s time for baking Holiday cookies and you will find so many cookie recipes in this great book!

When it comes to smile-fetching sweets you can’t go wrong with cookies! From soft and chewy to crisp and crunchy, the buttery sensations always get thumb-up approval. This new book features hundreds of full-color photos, this must-see edition offers after-school snacks, coffee-break bites, classroom treats, bake-sale favorites and holiday delights that are perfect throughout the year. You’ll even find cookies that celebrate days such as National Potato Chip Day (March 14), Jelly Bean Day (April 22) and National French Toast Day (November 28). Best of all, a Christmas- Cookies Bonus Section makes this cookbook a home baker’s dream come true!

Price: $24.99     Purchase Here

In the beautifully crafted new children’s book Otis Grows by Kathryn Hast, we’re introduced to young Otis, a red onion who is forced to question his origin and allegiances—given that his mom, a yellow chicken, is part of the Nuh-Uhs, and his dad, a blue flower, stems from the Yes-Chums. Struggling to find answers, Otis runs away, only to encounter more colors and cultures than he could ever imagine. Rooted in the challenges of family conflict, this book appeals to any child – or adult – who knows that growing up can be tough, but that, ultimately, love and wonder will win.

Full of bright color and themes of growth and awakening, Otis Grows is a perfect addition to every family’s reading list.

Otis Grows can be purchased from www.lujubooks.com and Amazon.

 

Self Disclosure: I received copies of the above books and highly recommend them all! Images and information were also provided. 

Super 4: Welcome to Kingsland – So Many Adventures! Something for Everyone.

Embark on a series of adventures with the Super 4 as they travel throughout the wider Playmobil® universes. Whether it be a sci-fi futuristic world, a magical fairy world, a world of pirates, or a world of medieval knights, the adventures are never ending! Welcome to Enchanted Island, an island covered with a mysterious enchanted forest, which is home to every form of magical creature you could ever imagine fairies, mischievous boy sprites, unicorns, sirens, ancient tree spirits, and magic wishing wells. Visitors to Enchanted Isle must beware for nothing is ever quite what it seems, and dreams and reality quickly become one. At the center of the forest is the palace of the capricious Fairy Queen, who is in a constant temper due to being turned into a frog by a talented young fairy who overdid herself and, in an attempt to grant the ultimate favor to the queen by making her even more pretty , she cast a spell that in fact gave her the head of a frog! Unfortunately, that talented young fairy is our friend, Twinkle. Twinkle has great potential as a fairy but she must learn to master her wand and its magic. Join Twinkle along with her Super 4 friends as they band together to fight villains and save their worlds from chaos. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jolleen M. comments, “Even though you may expect this DVD to be a cliché about a Prince saving a Princess, it is nothing like that. These episodes have so many adventures and each episode has something for everyone to enjoy.” Damon F. adds, “The message of this show is that if you work together, you can do anything.” See their full reviews below.

Super 4: Welcome to Kingsland
By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 12

 

These amazing animated episodes are great for everyone. Even though you may expect this DVD to be a cliché about a Prince saving a Princess, it is nothing like that. These episodes have so many adventures and each episode has something for everyone to enjoy.

Prince Alexander and his friends Ruby (a pirate), Twinkle (a fairy) and Jean (a secret intelligence agent) go on numerous adventures and come close to dangers from dragons, trolls and evil majesties who try to take over the kingdom. Prince Alex and his friends use their different thinking styles to come up with solutions to the different problems. Each character has a completely unique personality and different style.

Twinkle (Sarah Natochenny) can make herself sound so innocent and very caring. Sarah Natochenny seems very enthusiastic and happy, which completely matches Twinkle’s personality. Baron, an evil majesty, voiced by Sébastien Desjours, sounds a lot like a person who is very nosy and would like to fiddle with your life. Sébastien Desjours’ voice reminds me of an evil wizard or some sort of evil rich person. Desjours can sound very menacing and mischievous.

The costumes for each character show off its personality. For example, Jean is in a suit and has his handy, dandy smart watch device. The animation is unique and gives a lot of information about him visually. The backgrounds are detailed and the faces of the characters reveal their emotions. I like how they animate the dragons. They look pretty realistic and their movements are very smooth. The dragon’s breath of fire looks epic and moves the same way as an explosion moves.

My favorite episode is when Alex and his friends actually think that Baron is trying to befriend them without trying to gain something from them. This is my favorite episode because, at first, I thought that Baron was just trying to steal the sword from them and I expected him to eventually be successful at taking the sword. But when a dragon scoops up the sword from Alex’s hands, Baron jumps on the dragon and throws the sword down to Alex. I actually thought that Baron wanted to help them. Later, they realize Baron gave them a fake duplicate of the precious sword.

The message of this film is to live life with adventure and do the right thing. Alex, Twinkle, Jean and Ruby always have fun and make sure to help those around them. They never try to steal what isn’t theirs or try to make other people’s lives miserable. These episodes really show the importance of teamwork and it could inspire kids to help in their community.

These episodes are very entertaining and fun to watch. I recommend this DVD for ages 4 to 13 and give it film 5 out of 5 stars. The DVD is available now so be sure to check it out.

Super 4 Welcome to Kingsland

Damon F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

 

Super 4 Welcome to Kingsland is a DVD of episodes about the Playmobil characters known as the Super 4. The series is based on the worlds of Playmobil. The worlds shown on this DVD are: Kingsland, which holds knights, barons, kings, princes, princesses and dragons; Fairy World, where fairies and little strange monsters live; and the Lost World, which includes dinosaurs. I must admit, I was disappointed that this DVD is very repetitive. The characters that aren’t Super 4 members do pretty much the same thing in every episode. For example, the knights just worship the king and don’t fight. And, the plot where the baron tries to marry the princess is used in two different episodes.

The members of the Super 4 are: Alex, (Damien Ferrette), the prince of Kingsland and the leader who started the Super 4; Twinkle, (Annouck Hautbois), a fairy from Fairy World, who doesn’t always get her spells right the first time; Ruby, (Laetitia Lefebvre), a pirate from the Pirate Lost Island, who sometimes gets in trouble for stealing treasure but always gives it back unless it is owned by the enemy; Gene, (Franck Lorrain), the team’s genius from the Agents’ world, who never gets things wrong. The Super 4 are a group of friends who embark on many adventures and missions to fight villains. This collection is about a few of their adventures saving Kingsland, Alex’s home world from chaos.

My favorite episode is called “Rage of Dragon” which is about the enchanted witch from fairy world who puts a spell on Ruby that turns her into a dragon. Super 4’s remaining members must figure out what happened to her and help her break the spell. That episode really stands out. My favorite character is Alien, Twinkles strange little monster pet who is really scared of dragons. He is funny because he is always clumsy.

The message of this show is that if you work together, you can do anything. Even though I didn’t like the plot repetition, younger kids who like repetition and play with Playmobil might love this. For that reason, I rate this DVD 2 out of 5 stars and it for ages 2 through 6. This DVD/Blu-ray is available now so go check it out.

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

 

Digimon Adventure Tri 3: Confession – A Beautifully Anime Film That Touches Your Heart

Tai and his friends are haunted by the infection that resulted in Meicoomon destroying Leomon. What could have caused it? When did it occur? Now, all of the Digimon are quarantined, in hopes that answers can be found and the infection can be stopped. Unfortunately, one of the quarantined Digimon is already showing symptoms. The adventure now evolves once again. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jolleen M. comments, “All of these brave and courageous Digimon are so cute! This story is so powerful and made me bawl my eyes out.” Arjun N. adds, “Digimon Adventure Tri: Confession impressed me because of its wonderful style and action. The voice-acting is spectacular and the impressive animation allows for amazing visuals.” Talia J. wraps it up with, “Digimon Adventure Tri. 3: Confession is a beautifully made anime film that touched my heart and will touch the hearts of others.” See their full reviews below

 

Digimon Adventure Tri 3: Confession

By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

All of these brave and courageous Digimon are so cute! This story is so powerful and made me bawl my eyes out. The animation for each Digimon is unique and the animation for the human characters shows their emotions quite well. I really love seeing the sweet bond between the Digimons and their owners.

I haven’t watched Digimon part 1 or part 2 before, so it was a bit confusing for me in the beginning. But after the story got underway, I got the gist about what was happening. The storyline starts off with the characters trying to find a cure to an infection. The infection caused one of their Digimon, Meicoomon, to start causing trouble in the human world. They don’t know where Meicoomon has been or where she will go, so they have to keep all of the Digimon in Koushiro’s office to prevent them from getting infected. But one owner brings his Digimon home by accident. Later that day, the Digimon gets the virus but they don’t tell anyone. During the fight to keep Meicoomon in the digital dimension, the virus spreads to one of their Digimon friends who went to hold Meicoomon. The Digimon realize that they have no choice but to fight till the end to protect their owners and their human world. The Digimons say a sad goodbye to their owners and, even though their owners don’t want them to fight, they go anyway, ready to die.

The voice acting in this film is really convincing. Convincing in the way that I could tell when a character is desperate, sad or angry, and also convincing. Miwa Matsumoto (Patamon) sounds like a very delicate and caring creature. Patamon’s close bond with his partner T.K. is very sentimental. When Patamon has to say goodbye to T.K., I cried so much because I could tell that T.K. could not live without Patamon. But Patamon sounds determined and very emotional, as if he was crying.

The animation of this film is anime style. The animation for the Digimon is very unique. Each of the Digimon are completely different from the others and they each have different personalities and physical characteristics. The human characters are animated so that their faces shows their emotions. My favorite part is when Patamon and T.K. have to say goodbye to each other. Even though this part made me sad, I feel like it is the best part of the film. I really feel the emotions from T.K. in this scene.

The message of the film is about overcoming obstacles. Meiko is very depressed because her Digimon, Meicoomon took a dark turn. Even though this obstacle is in her way, she gets out of bed every morning and tries to do something to bring Meicoomon back to normal. She realizes that just crying won’t do anything for her Digimon.

This film is very sentimental. I really enjoyed crying about this film. Sometimes you just got to cry and have your heart be moved and not worry about how everything will turn out. Be sure to check this film out to see what happens. I recommend this for ages 8 to 14 and give it 5 out of 5 stars.  It is out on DVD’s now so go check it out!

 

Digimon Adventure Tri: Confession

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Digimon Adventure Tri: Confession impressed me because of its wonderful style and action. The voice-acting is spectacular and the impressive animation allows for amazing visuals. This is sure to be a hit with Digimon and anime fans.<p>

The story follows the events after an infected Meicoomon (Kate Higgons) turns to the dark side and kills Leomon. Due to this, Meicoomon’s owner, Meiko (Miho Arakawa), is dealing with extreme guilt and all the other Digimon are left in the office of Izzy (Mona Marshall) to prevent further infection. However, when Takeru (Junya Enoki) finds out his Digimon, Patamon (Laura Summer), is facing infection, he tries to stop it before it is too late. Meanwhile, Meicoomon returns to cause more havoc on Earth.

Miho Arakawa, as Meiko, excellently presents her guilt and blame after Meicoomon turns to the dark side. Her sadness is well presented as she tries to abandon her team. Junya Enoki, as Takeru, is a highlight delivering a well-ranged performance full of charisma and urgency, as he tries to put his team back together to save Patamon. Also, the emotional drama between Takeru and Patomon is well done, and due to this, he is my favorite character. Tom Fahn, as Agumon, is a well-presented team leader of the Digimon who will do anything to save his friends. Laura Summer, as Patamon, delivers and equally emotional performance to Takeru as she is facing a possible impending infection, which will turn her against her Digimon friends. Kate Higgons, as Meicoomon, is a well-developed antagonist who is a formidable foe for the Digimon to fight.

The direction by Keitaro Motonaro is wonderful due to a pace that feels as if it’s an interesting magna story. My favorite scene is the scene when Takeru tells Patamon that he is infected, because it is extremely emotional due to the incredible acting of the two characters. My only problem with this movie is the large amounts of expository flashbacks that further progress the story. It feels like a lazy way to tell a story.

The message of the movie is about finding a way to forgive yourself. Meiko’s intense guilt and blame for herself is a big plot point, but she learns that moving on and helping the team will be for the better. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 because of its action and emotional themes. The movie is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray, so check it out.

 

Digimon Adventure Tri.: Confession

By Talia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Digimon Adventure Tri. 3: Confession is a beautifully made anime film that touched my heart and will touch the hearts of others. The storyline picks up right after the events that took place in past movies. Tai and his friends are still trying to figure out what caused the infection that made Leomon go rogue. All the Digimon are quarantined in hopes to keep them safe from the infection and buy the friends some time to figure out ways to stop it from spreading. Sadly, one of the Digimon is showing some indications that they might have the infection.

This DVD is the third film in the franchise Digimon Adventure Tri. I had absolutely no background knowledge of the first film Digimon Adventure Tri, nor did I know anything about the second film Digimon Adventure Tri.2: Decision. Consequently, it was a bit difficult for me to understand what was happening in the beginning of the film, since the characters referred to things that happened in the previous two films. For example, the character Leomon is discussed a lot in the beginning of the movie. I had no idea who or what that character was for the first twenty minutes. Eventually, I picked up that Leoman is a Digimon. Then, I had to rewatch the scenes where they talked about that character. The one very helpful thing in this film are the flashback scenes. They really helped me understand the plot. I recommend that people watch the first and second films before watching this one as it will help them understand the plot of the film.

This is not my first anime film, but it is my first anime dealing with magical characters like Digimons. I was not a fan of Pokemon growing up so I never watched too many anime films. Occasionally I have watched a realistic fiction anime but never fantasy ones. After watching this film I’m definitely going to put more time in watching anime films. This film gives justice to the world of anime. The storyline is compelling and the whole concept of digital monsters is absolutely fascinating. I love the relationships between the people and their Digimons. My favorite duo has to be Patamon (Anna Garduno) and TK (Johnny Yong Bosch). I could feel the love they have for each other. I grew very fond of these characters over time. I emphasized with them when times were bad. These two characters make this film even better.

The animation is absolutely stunning. There is so much detail that goes into making anime films. This film meets that high standard. The Digimon are drawn beautifully. Their exterior designs match their personalities so well. I could tell a lot of time went into drawing these monsters. The humans also have a very special look to them. My favorite feature is the characters’ eyes. You can feel the characters’ emotions by looking into their eyes. It can be difficult to truly connect with animated characters at times, due to their not looking realistic. These characters are drawn very realistically and I personally connected to them.

I recommend this film for ages 7 to 16. Younger audiences will love the fun characters and the older audiences will find the story line interesting. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. I felt a connection to the characters and an urge to know the ending. I think the animation is stunning. This film is available now on DVD now so go check it out!

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

National Geographic’s Hey Baby!: A Collection of Pictures, Poems, and Stories from Nature’s Nursery is a Must-Read! Great book for the whole family! And, other book suggestions too!

Self Disclosure: I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com), May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my honest opinion on my blog. The opinions posted are my own.

       

I recently had the chance to receive a few great books and National Geographic’s Hey Baby!: A Collection of Pictures, Poems, and Stories from Nature’s Nursery is a book I highly recommend for the whole family! It simply is a beautiful book that will educate you and your children about some really cute baby animals. I love the life stories of each animal and the photographs are truly amazing! I couldn’t put this book down! I had to look thru it and see each and every animal! This really is a must-buy for all animal lovers and I love that it includes animals from the sea, air, and land. This would make a great gift suggestion for ages 4+ and it is beautiful enough to leave on your coffee table for guests to look at.

National Geographic also has a fun book for young readers called Let’s Play Collection. This is a book that will encourage even the most reluctant younger readers to want to read especially if they are animal lovers!

Another gift book idea is 1,0001 Ways to Slow Down: A Little Book of Everyday Calm by Barbara Ann Kipler. I like all the simple suggestions in this book and it would be great for adults for the New Year!

Self Disclosure: I received free books to facilitate this post.

The Snowman & The Snowman and the Snowdog – A Magical Holiday Duo

These two films are based on the books by Raymond Briggs. The Snowman is about a young boy who wakes up to find a thick blanket of snow has covered the ground as far as the eye can see. Filled with excitement, the boy decides to build a snowman using a tangerine for his nose, coal for his buttons and eyes, and tops him off with a hat and scarf. Later that night, the snowman comes to life! The young boy and the snowman embark on a magical adventure of discovery where the snowman explores the young boy’s world and in return he takes him flying to his home in the North Pole. Upon arriving at the North Pole, the two join a party as the guests of honor to a very special person. The Snowman and the Snowdog is the charming sequel to The Snowman. On the 30th anniversary of the original film, Briggs gave his blessing to a sequel and the magic began all over again, this time with a new set of friends. When a young boy and his mother move into a new house, the boy discovers a secret box hidden under the floorboards of his bedroom. In the box, he finds a hat, scarf, some lumps of coal and a shriveled tangerine – it’s a snowman-making kit! Later that day it starts to snow and the boy builds a snowman and with the little spare snow leftover, a snowdog. That night they come to life and take him on a wonderful adventure. As dawn breaks they fly home, but before the boy returns to bed a magical surprise awaits him. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “I really got into the Holiday Spirit after watching these two movies. I found them both to be charming and sweet little short films.” Sahiba K. adds, “Each aspect of these two short films from the animation, to the music and the cinematography is lovable and got me into the holiday spirit.” Eden T. wraps it up with, “The detail in these movies is stunning! Even though there is no talking, the artistry makes up for that. Each scene is hand-drawn, which must have been a technical pain for the scenes in motion!” See their full reviews below.

The Snowman & The Snowman And The Snowdog

By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

 

I really got into the Holiday Spirit after watching these two movies. I found them both to be charming and sweet little short films.

The Snowman is based on the children’s book by Raymond Briggs. The story is about a young boy who builds a snowman that later comes to life. It’s a simple story, but a lot of the charm comes from two aspects. First, the animation stands out among other animated films. That’s because this film’s animation looks like a picture book. Congrats to the director Hilary Audus who keeps the original look of the books, which is rather neat. I love the subtle details like the movement and the backgrounds. Second, there is no talking throughout the entire movie. It’s narrated by music. Now, obviously, if a movie is going to have just music, the music has to be good. And yes, the music is really good. It sounds very whimsical and beautiful thanks to the wonderful work by Andy Burrows and IIan Eshkeri. The only time anyone really speaks, is at the opening and in the song, halfway through the movie. Speaking of this song, called “Walking in The Air,” it is really good. It is very calming and magical.

The second film on this DVD is the sequel, The Snowman and The Snowdog. A kid moves into the house that originally belonged to the boy from the first movie and shortly after that, his dog died. Fast forward to winter and the kid finds the items used to build the original snowman. The child rebuilds the snowman and builds a new snowdog and then that night, the snowman and the snowdog come to life.

The animation is in the same picture book style, which is nice considering this film and The Snowman were made 30 years apart – The Snowman in 1982 and The Snowman and The Snowdog in 2012. This film is also wordless, excluding a song. I didn’t like this song as much as “Walking in The Air,” but it is still good. It just doesn’t match the beauty of “Walking in The Air.” This DVD is a great film to get your family into the holiday mood. I give both of these films 4 out of 5 stars. And I recommend them for ages 4 to 18. This double feature DVD is available now so, go check it out.

 

The Snowman & The Snowman and The Snowdog

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

 

The Snowman and The Snowman and the Snowdog double feature, based on the books by Raymond Briggs, is heart-warming and delightful! The peaceful and calming music had me feeling relaxed and cozy. The snowman’s soft smile and his innocence lit up my face and made me want to give him a hug. Each aspect of these two short films from the animation, to the music and the cinematography is lovable and got me into the holiday spirit.

The story of The Snowman follows a young boy who builds a happy snowman. That night, the boy watches his snowman come to life and together they go on a magnificent journey. The Snowman and the Snowdog continues the story many years later when a new boy, whose dog has just passed, moves into the house where the happy snowman was originally built. He finds a snowman making kit and rebuilds the snowman along with a snowdog to accompany him. Again, they both come to life and take the boy on another miraculous journey.

The animation is soft. Almost everything appears to be shaded with colored pencils. The shading uses multiple colors which makes even the simplest objects, like a wall, interesting and gentle to look at. When the boy is outside, it snows most of the time. The snow is beautiful and is everywhere, in front of the characters and behind them. It adds a very realistic, yet tranquil effect. The outlines of different objects are subtle also, adding to the animation’s serene quality. The music is peaceful and communicates emotion, because there is no dialogue. It reflects the boy and snowman’s thoughts so that nothing has to be said. For example, when they are feeling playful, the music is upbeat and faster, but when something sad or curious interrupts their playfulness, the music slows down and has a lower tone. Therefore, the music engrossed me in following their journey and I could easily understand the characters’ feelings. The animated cinematography of certain scenes is simply beautiful. For example, the snowman flies with the boys high in the sky and, the way the city is shown from above, made me feel like the snowman was carrying me too.

My favorite parts are always when the snowman takes to the sky because the music, animation and cinematography all come together to create a magical experience. The message of these two short films is to subtly introduce the concept of loss. I give this double feature 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 18. It is available now on DVD so check it out.

 

The Snowman And The Snowman And The Snowdog

By Eden T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 9

 

This double feature DVD includes heartwarming films about the winter season that never ceases to amaze me. I like both movies because they remind me of myself during the holidays. For example, when the boy has to scrounge up snow for his snowman, I thought about when I tried to do the same thing! This DVD includes two movies: The Snowman and The Snowman and The Snowdog.  I love both equally!

In The Snowman, a young British boy in a classic 1950s English rural home builds a snowman on Christmas Eve. At midnight, the snowman comes to life and takes the boy on a flying trip around the world! The scenes become grander and grander until you think nothing more can happen! After all of this is over, they travel back home. The next morning, the boy…well, you’ll see. The ending brought meaningful tears to my eyes!

The sequel movie, The Snowman and The Snowdog picks up where the first movie left off. It takes place in modern times with another boy who has recently moved into the exact same English house (now renovated). Less than a year after moving in, the boy discovers under a floorboard a time capsule left behind by the previous boy. This box includes a picture of the same snowman and the original objects used to decorate it. The lad builds the snowman according to the picture and the Snowman is reborn! Still, the boy isn’t finished. While saddened with the recent loss of his dog, he also builds a Snowdog! They travel around the world in similar fashion as the first boy, but there is a surprise ending!

The detail in these movies is stunning! Even though there is no talking, the artistry makes up for that. Each scene is hand-drawn, which must have been a technical pain for the scenes in motion! These movies are based on Raymond Briggs’ classic picture books.  Besides young children, adults who have read this book in their youth will also appreciate these quality films. The unexpected ending is truly memorable!

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for kids ages 2 to 6 and adults who enjoy fine art. This movie is available both on DVD and VOD. So, enjoy this winter delight!

 

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

 

 

Books of the week!

If you love dogs and stories about dogs, you will love this one!

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It has true adventure and it is a delightful story about a pack of rescue dogs. The first book in The Unleashed Series, The Adventures of Zooming Zip, is the tall tale of a small, wayward dog that discovers himself, God, and his true purpose in life. Check it out on Amazon.com.

YOU’RE ALL KINDS OF WONDERFUL by Nancy Tillman 

YOU'RE ALL KINDS OF WONDERFUL

I love this one! It’s a very special story with a very special message! This picture book is one that celebrates what makes every child special in their own way! I recommend this one for ages 4+. You can also find it on Amazon.com.

Painting a snowman is simple: three circles, black dots for buttons & eyes, and a carrot for a nose. That is, unless you’re Salvador Dali, whose flattened snowmen melt in a desert, or Georgia O’Keeffe, whose snowman sports an antlered skull instead of button eyes. Or Roy Lichtenstein, or Pablo Picasso, or Pablita Velarde, or any number of influential and beloved artists.
IF PICASSO PAINTED A SNOWMAN introduces young readers to many acclaimed painters, but most importantly it shows children that it’s okay to be different, and encourages them to embrace their individuality and unique view of the world.
I loved this book and think it is a great way for children to learn about creativity! You can find it here.
americana_cover RGB
Addicted to Americana by Charles Phoenix is a really fun book to read! I enjoyed reading it and I think even teenagers will enjoy it! I learned new facts and it’s just a really fun book that it tough to put down! With trademark enthusiasm, quick wit, and keen eye for oddball detail, Charles Phoenix has become one of the American Treasures he often discusses. Yet with our sped-up world spinning at record speed technologically, Charles celebrates Americana in his newest book, Addicted to Americana. As a way to keep both memories and relics alive, his latest book takes us on the road, excavating the U.S.A. for fossilized treasures, from a roadside turtle statue in Joshua Tree to a clown-themed coffee shop in Sacramento. It’s part travelogue, part autobiography, and pure fun. As excessive, grandiose and environmentally incorrect as that era may have been, it sure was swell.
5-12 FINAL GATORLAND (biggest file I have can it be a full sq page)_BOOK
You can find this book on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
Fair Foods book cover
Do you love County Fair food? I hate to admit it sometimes…but I do! Now, you can make it at home! George Geary’s Fair Foods cookbook has all the great recipes! The recipes are simple to follow.  The World’s Gooiest Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting is one of my favorites that you can find in the cookbook. There’s even Fried Coca-Cola! This book would make a great gift for the holidays!
Find it on Amazon.com.
Self Disclosure: I received free copies of the above books to facilitate this post. Images were also provided.