Sherlock Gnomes – A Hilarious And Heartfelt Adventure The Whole Family Can Enjoy

Boasting an all-star cast of voices including Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt, James McAvoy and Mary J. Blige, SHERLOCK GNOMES is a rollicking adventure from John Stevenson, the director of Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas and more! When Gnomeo (James McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt) discover their friends and family have gone missing, there’s only one gnome to call – the legendary detective Sherlock Gnomes (Johnny Depp). Working together, the mystery takes them beyond the garden walls and across the city on an unforgettable journey to save the day and bring the gnomes home. The Blu-ray Combo Pack is loaded with nearly 45 minutes of bonus content including profiles of the all-star cast (Johnny Depp, James McAvoy, Emily Blunt) and learning how this hilarious family adventure was brought to life.  Plus, the new music video “Stronger Than I Ever Was” is featured along with learn to draw lessons. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Lucia F. comments, “My favorite aspects of this movie are the music, Johnny Depp and the “planning” sequences. I love the song choices used in transitions between scenes. If you are a fan of Sir Elton John, you will be pleased to hear many of his hits, including “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” “I’m Still Standing,” “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” and a fantastic new song performed by the great Mary J. Blige.” Damon F. adds, “Sherlock Gnomes is a great movie! I really like the storyline because it has an amazing good versus evil plot.” See their full reviews below.

Sherlock Gnomes

By Lucia F., KIDS FIRST Film Critic, Age 19

Breaking news from London – garden gnomes have been kidnapped! “Oh fertilizer!” This is one of many amusing jokes from the very British characters in Sherlock Gnomes, sequel to the 2011 animated film Gnomeo and Juliet.  Although the plot of this family-friendly movie is somewhat predictable, it is still quite funny and clever.

In this sequel, the formerly star-crossed lovers Gnomeo (James McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt) are married and have just moved to London where they are appointed by their parents as joint heads of the garden. Both Juliet and Gnomeo feel the pressures of their new leadership roles and the marriage begins to suffer through lack of communication and mutual appreciation. Meanwhile, their gnome friends are disappearing from homes all over London, and they attempt to search for and save them. With the help of Sherlock Gnomes (Johnny Depp) and Watson (Chiwetel Ejiofor), the adventure begins – to defeat the evil pie company called Moriarty (Jamie Demetriou) and save all gnomes. We also see that poor Watson is quite ignored and under-appreciated by Sherlock.

My favorite aspects of this movie are the music, Johnny Depp and the “planning” sequences. I love the song choices used in transitions between scenes. If you are a fan of Sir Elton John, you will be pleased to hear many of his hits, including “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” “I’m Still Standing,” “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” and a fantastic new song performed by the great Mary J. Blige. Johnny Depp is hilarious with his condescending British accent. I have seen almost every movie he has ever been in and he never disappoints with his comedic intensity. Another interesting thing that happens is when we see the inner workings of Sherlock’s mind in 2-D black-and-white animation. One clinker for me is when super-intelligent Watson, looking for Gnomeo, says “Gnomeo, Gnomeo! Oh don’t make me say it – wherefore art thou, Gnomeo?” (Of course “wherefore” means “why” in Romeo and Juliet.)

The message of this story is a good one – that you will succeed by respecting the people who support you. Sherlock learns that lesson when he realizes that Watson feels that Sherlock isn’t listening to him or respecting him. Juliet learns it when she realizes that Gnomeo feels as if Juliet is ignoring him, too.

I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars because, almost all the scenes kept me laughing, the music is great, and I love the message. I recommend this movie for ages 7 to 18. This is available on DVD/BluRay June 12, 2018 and on Digital June 5, 2018. If you are looking for a fun family movie, this is it!

Sherlock Gnomes

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

Sherlock Gnomes is a great movie! I really like the storyline because it has an amazing good versus evil plot.

The story follows Gnomeo and Juliet’s move to London where they become the new leaders of the garden. On their first day, somebody kidnaps all the gnomes in the garden! Luckily, Sherlock Gnomes and Watson are there. Gnomeo and Juliet help Sherlock save all the gnomes in London.

The animation in this movie is excellent. The gnomes look like real life gnomes with a small touch of cartoon. I like how, in the beginning, a couple of gnomes are standing on a book talking about how they are going to read about Sherlock Gnomes. Sherlock Gnomes is a great detective just like Sherlock Holmes, but instead of protecting people he is the sworn protector of Gnomes. This gives the feeling that the entire movie is about those three gnomes reading us a book about Sherlock Gnomes.

The movie has lots of characters named from other movies and books such as Gnomeo and Juliet whose names are take offs of Romeo and Juliet. Sherlock Gnomes is based on Sherlock Holmes. I like how the gnomes freeze around humans. They just stay completely still so humans don’t realize they move. The frozen position is also what they do when fall asleep. As soon as they get frozen, they can choose to fall asleep instantly or not.

The characters in the film include Gnomeo (James McAvoy), Juliet (Emily Blunt), Sherlock Gnomes (Johnny Depp) and Watson (Chiwetel Ejiofor). My favorite character is Benny, (Matt Lucas) because he is smart with technology, but otherwise very clumsy. I find that funny.
My favorite scene is when Benny trips and he is forced to put on a show to distract the guard while Gnomeo escapes. That scene is a mix of action and comedy. Another of my favorite scenes is when Gnomeo comes up with a plan to get past Reggie the gargoyle (Dexter Fletcher). I like how they show the plan with paper versions of all the gnomes.

The message of this movie is never take advantage of your friends. I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for

ages 4 through 11 because of its great storyline and message. I think adults will like watching this movie as well. It comes out on DVD/Blu-ray June 12 and on Digital June 5 so, be sure to check it out.

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

 

 

 

 

Splash and Bubbles event at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium on June 3rd! GET READY FOR THE SUMMER WITH SONGS FROM THE HIT PBS KIDS SERIES Available on June 1, 2018 from The Jim Henson Company, Herschend Studios, and Music.Film Recordings.

The Jim Henson Company, Herschend Studios, and Music. Film Recordings make a “Splash” with the summer release of Splash and Bubbles: Rhythm of the Reef (Songs from Season One). Hitting stores and digital retailers on June 1, the album includes 16 favorite songs from Season 1 of the Emmy nominated PBS Kids TV series, along with 6 bonus tracks from the interstitial series “Get Your Feet Wet.”

Splash and Bubbles: Rhythm of the Reef (Songs from Season One) is the perfect summer beach-time album, full of funky, Motown-inspired tunes, with themes around marine science. The 16 series songs were written by award-winning composer Mike Himelstein (Sid the Science Kid, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Dinosaur Train) and feature the vocal talents of your favorite characters, including the show’s creator John Tartaglia as Splash, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph as Bubbles, Raymond Carr as Dunk, and Aymee Garcia as Ripple.

The album’s lead track, “Splash and Bubbles Theme Song” won “Best Song for a TV Series” at the 2017 Cynopsis Kids !magination Awards.

The soundtrack release is part of a Splash and Bubbles -centered consumer products push that also includes a series of storybooks being released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on June 5th and the “One Big Ocean” DVD being released by PBS on June 12th – all in celebration of World Oceans Day on June 8th!

Splash and Bubbles is a production of The Jim Henson Company and Herschend Studios. Created by John Tartaglia (Imaginocean, Johnny and the Sprites), the series is executive produced by Lisa Henson and Halle Stanford of The Jim Henson Company, Julie Phillips and Merrill Puckett Miller of Herschend Enterprises, as well as Tartaglia, Michael Shawn Lewis, and Jill Shinderman. The series is funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Splash and Bubbles airs daily on PBS KIDS and streams on Netflix.

Visit http://smartURL.it/RhythmoftheReef to buy/stream the full album!

Don’t miss this fun family event!

Splash and Bubbles Day at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
Sunday, June 3, 1 to 3 pm
 Free with museum admission

 

Credit: Sugar Mountain PR and See below.

ABOUT MUSIC.FILM RECORDINGS

Music.Film Recordings is the new soundtrack label launched by music services specialist Cutting Edge Group, a Grammy Award-winning music company for film, television, advertising, and games, and owner of the world’s preeminent independent film music catalog, including Academy Award winners The King’s Speech and Whiplash, the John Wick franchise, and Academy Award-nominated Sicario. Music.Film Recordings provides its partners with a full suite of creative, marketing, promotional, licensing and distribution services. Music.Film Recordings is distributed worldwide by Universal Music Distribution, in partnership with iconic soundtrack label Varèse Sarabande Records wherever music is sold, downloaded, or streamed. Upcoming Music.Film Recordings titles include Sicario: Day of the Soldado composed by Hildur Guðnadóttir and Jeff Beal’s Shock and Awe.

For more information about Cutting Edge Group, visit http://www.cuttingedgegroup.com. For licensing requests, visit www.music.film.

About The Jim Henson Company

The Jim Henson Company has remained an established leader in family entertainment for over 60 years and is recognized worldwide as an innovator in puppetry, animatronics and digital animation. Best known as creators of the world-famous Muppets, Henson has received over 50 Emmy Awards and nine Grammy Awards. Recent credits include Julie’s Greenroom (Netflix), Dot. (Sprout/Hulu), Splash and Bubbles (PBS), Word Party (Netflix), Doozers (Hulu/ Sprout), and the Emmy®-nominated Sid the Science Kid (PBS), Dinosaur Train (PBS), and Pajanimals (Sprout). Television productions include Fraggle Rock, The Storyteller and the sci-fi cult series Farscape. Features include Disney’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, as well as The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, MirrorMask, and Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow. The Company is currently in production on the upcoming Netflix original series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. Projects in development include the highly anticipated film Fraggle Rock.

With additional locations in New York and London, The Jim Henson Company is headquartered in Los Angeles on the historic Charlie Chaplin lot, complete with soundstage and postproduction facilities. The Company is home to Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™, a pre-eminent character-building and visual effects group with international film, television, theme park and advertising clients, as well as Henson Recording Studios, one of the music industry’s top recording facilities known for its world-class blend of state-of- the-art and vintage equipment. The Company’s Henson Alternative brand is currently touring Puppet-Up!– Uncensored, a live puppet improvisational show, and its feature The Happytime Murders, starring Melissa McCarthy, will be released in August 2018.

http://www.henson.com

www.facebook.com/hensoncompany

www.twitter.com/hensoncompany

About Herschend Enterprises and Herschend Studios

Herschend Studios is the media arm of Herschend Enterprises.  Committed to developing and producing family entertainment for television, film, digital and publishing, Herschend Studios harnesses the power of storytelling to create positive, personal, and lasting connections.  Herschend Enterprises is a family of companies who focus on family entertainment.  For nearly six decades, Herschend Enterprises has operated with the purpose to bring families closer together by Creating Memories Worth Repeating®.  Herschend Enterprises also includes the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters and Herschend Family Entertainment.  The Harlem Globetrotters entertain millions of fans and families each year with their legendary basketball magic. Combining athleticism, theater and comedy they have been thrilling audiences worldwide since 1926.  Herschend Family Entertainment owns and operates entertainment, tourism and hospitality properties across the country, including award-winning theme parks like Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO, and Dollywood, a partnership with Dolly Parton in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, top tier aquariums, water parks, hotels, and other highly entertaining standalone attractions. For more information, visit www.herschendenterprises.com<http://www.herschendenterprises.com>.

 

Don’t forget to Celebrate Star Wars this May!

Celebrate with this great book: Star Wars: Lightsabers: A Guide to Weapons of the Force. This one is sure to be a hit! I checked it out and highly recommend for Star Wars fans!
Solo: A Star Wars Story
On May 25th, celebrate the release of the latest chapter in the Star Wars saga with 40% off our Star Wars books and kits — including Star Wars Master Models: Millennium Falcon — with code MAYTHE4TH. I also think that this one is really cool! I received it and put it up for a special Star Wars fan and can’t wait to give it to him for his birthday! Shhh! It’s a surprise!
Save in May on all our Star Wars titles,
with code MAYTHE4TH!
40% off code good May 1 through May 31, 2018.

Self Disclosure: I received samples of a few of the above products to facilitate this post. Images and information were provided and I recommend all of the above. 

Vincent Nunes “Move, Move, Move” is a CD of fun songs!

Looking for music that will make your little ones want to dance and move?

Vincent Nunes just released his 10th recording of original music for children, entitled, “Move, Move, Move”. I had the opportunity to check the CD out for myself and highly recommend it for young children because it is fun! I also like that young children will have fun moving to these songs!

Songs on the CD:

1. Celebrate Today, Today 2. Why Do I Move My Feet 3. (I Wish I Could) Fly Like My Dog 4. There’s Always Something in My Way 5. ABC Jones 6. I Wanna Bounce 7. Hello, Goodbye, Hello 8. Rock Star 9. Walking a Tight Rope 10. If You Can Dance, Dance 11. I Love the Moon …plus a “hidden” bonus song!
Run Time: 35 mins

More about Vincent Nunes:

Award-Winning, Curriculum-Based Music for Children His Portuguese father was a professional musician, and his mother was a master elementary school teacher. So it is natural that Vincent Nunes composes and performs original, highly entertaining, interactive music for children. His nationally distributed CDs (listed below) have won numerous awards for children’s music, including a number of ASCAP awards for songwriting. He has performed across the country, and has been featured on national children’s radio. Vincent, who holds a post-graduate degree from Syracuse University, has offered keynotes, featured presentations and workshops regional affiliates of the National Association for the Education of Young Children since 1989. In his performances he is known for engaging the audience with ASL-inspired hand movements. He is dedicated to giving back, having raised thousands of dollars through his music for schools in under-served communities. His newest CD is Move, Move, Move, which is scheduled for release in the summer of 2018. It is terrifically entertaining and continues to reflect Vincent’s commitment to early learners, and their physical wellbeing. “Songs for children should be crafted with intelligence and infused with fun. I call them smart songs for active children,” says Vincent. For Move, Move, Move, Vincent reached out to Dr. Diane Craft, PhD, from SUNY Cortland, an early childhood physical activity expert, to insure that suggested movements are developmentally and age appropriate. .“Among the most rewarding things I do is professional development programs, especially Keynotes and Workshops. I love meeting folks dedicated to nurturing and educating early learners. We understand each other. Our future is in the hands of our children. I can’t think of a more important job.”

Find out more at http://www.VincentNunes.com

 

Self Disclosure: I received a free CD to facilitate this post. Images were also provided. No other compensation was received and I only feature media that I highly recommend. 

Solo: A Star Wars Story – An Essential Watch for Any Star Wars Fan

During an adventure into a dark criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion. Described as a space western, the film centers on the young Han Solo and his adventures with his Wookiee side-kick Chewbacca, including their encounter with Lando Calrissian. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “Solo: A Star Wars Story is a perfectly serviceable origin story for the famous titular character. The acting and direction provide an outstanding mix of visuals and characterization.” KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror, Kimbirly O. adds, “Howard’s optimistic effort on this prequel doesn’t save the film. He made a good film, but if it was a stand-alone film, I would not predict a plethora of sequels.” See their full reviews below.

Solo: A Star Wars Story
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a perfectly serviceable origin story for the famous titular character. The acting and direction provide an outstanding mix of visuals and characterization. This is definitely an essential watch for any Star Wars fan.

The movie follows young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) on his journey to become the famed hero pilot. As a talented maverick, Solo joins forces with the thief Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his crew to escape poverty and become part of something bigger. However, one of their heists goes wrong resulting in a life or death deal with Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) which will determine the fate of their lives. To rectify this, Solo and newfound friend Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) enlist the help of old flame Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) and the charming Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) to take part in the second heist.

Alden Ehrenreich, as Han Solo, wonderfully portrays his hero’s journey from a poor, oppressed dreamer to heroic pilot. His mannerisms and line delivery excellently match up to the standard set by Harrison Ford. Joonas Suotamo, as Chewbacca, encompasses an extraordinary counterpart Peter Mayhew’s mantle as he perfectly portrays his growing friendship with Han. Donald Glover, as Lando Calrissian, is my favorite character due to his exact interpretations of Billy Dee Williams’s zany parlance. His banter with Solo only forwards the character’s legacy. Woody Harrelson, as Beckett, provides for a flawed yet effective mentor to Solo by guiding him about motivations and how to deal. Emilia Clarke, as Qi’ra, is great with what she is given, but her character falls into the stereotypical “will they or won’t they” love interest loop. Paul Bettany, as Dryden Vos, is menacing with his passive aggressiveness building to volatile outburst when his orders are disobeyed.

Ron Howard efficiently grasps all the characters’ tales by providing great interactions with known Star Wars lore. My favorite scene is the initial train heist as it showcases how unprepared Beckett’s gang was and is intense as regards the fates of all characters involved. Also, there are great displays of special effects with the train’s movement patterns. The one flaw is that it really doesn’t Solo any character transformation as he always remains heroic with the only change being how he goes from rags to riches. The love triangle between Solo, Qi’ra and Dryden also feels uninspired.

The message of the movie is to always abide by morals rather than selfish instinct. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 because of its intense action. The movie releases in theaters May 25, 2018, so check it out.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

I was excited to see the origin story of Han Solo, as he has been a character favorite of mine for years. The young man was boosting scams from age 10 and lived a life of adventure, for sure! Learning how his last name came to be was interesting – think passport control questioning. But, I digress.

While the film strives to tell the story of how Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and Chewbacca, everyone’s favorite Wookie (Joonas Suotamo) became BFFs after a contentious beginning, it had some stalls and at times, I wondered if Han was attempting to be our hero or villain. I felt the origin story of Han Solo did not go deep enough to show us who he is, and what lead him to be, Solo.

The most interesting character is Becket, played by Woody Harrelson. He is a true team player, but what team does he play for? His chameleon-like persona is wonderful to see and a testament to this talented and beloved actor.

The film begins centered on a bunch of bad dudes who all fear the reptilian and then, our hero Han, who eventually joins the Imperial armed forces to reconnect with his love, Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). Being the rebel he is, Han is kicked out of pilot training and ends up in one of the many Empire wars. His quest to find Qi’ra lands him in the clutches of the dreadful mob boss Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) and a gambler named Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover).

Long ago, in a vision far-away, original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were off-loaded from the payload and rescued by super Director Ron Howard. Howard’s optimistic effort on this prequel doesn’t save the film. He made a good film, but if it was a stand-alone film, I would not predict a plethora of sequels.

I give this film of 4 out of 5 stars for the performances, which are spectacular, especially Glover, Harrelson and Ehrenreich, along with special effects, creepy wardrobes, action scenes and Star Wars references that any true fan will ‘get’ (like the Kessel Run, the Millennium Falcon and of course, the necklace hanging on the rearview mirror). I recommend this film for ages 8 to 18. I caution younger viewing due to adult themes and fight scenes which may be disturbing to younger children.

Photo by Jonathan Olley – © 2018 – Lucasfilm Ltd.

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

Brooklyn’s Beloved Kindie Star Suzi Shelton Releases an Album of Smart Songs for Kids Who Care Hand in Hand Avail now!

 Suzi Shelton, known for her “heartfelt songs that span a lot of childhood territory”(Parents’ Choice) and “hummable, kid-friendly tunes” (NY Daily  News), released her fourth solo album for families this spring: Hand in Hand on May 11. Suzi plans several concerts to celebrate the release, including Friday sing-alongs at JCP Downtown in NYC and a show at Madison Square Park (as part of the Madison Square Kids series) on Wednesday, July 11.

Suzi and special musical guests will present an interactive Facebook Live concert on Thursday, May 10 at about 6 pm Eastern Time.

Inspired by a challenge from her Brooklyn based women’s songwriting group, Suzi offers her signature “catchy, danceable pop-rock songs that connect directly with kids” (BaristaNet), while delving into more sophisticated stylings and production. Hand in Hand includes nine upbeat songs to encourage self-discovery, expression and kindness. Some of the tunes are childlike and whimsical, about things like ladybugs and raindrops and blue fin fish. Others are meant to be inspiring, like “Can You Feel the Power,” “The Grass Is Always Greener,” “River Come Down,” and “We Shall Walk.” The lyrics emphasize inclusion and believing in one’s own power to do good. “I want to encourage kids and let them know that they can be comfortable in their own skin and express themselves joyously,” says Suzi.

GRAMMY winning artist and former Sprout TV host Tim Kubart sings on the tune “Grass Is Always Greener,” and Brooklyn kindie stars Vered Ronen (Baby in Tune), Amelia Robinson (Mil’s Trills) and Katie Mullins (Katie Ha Ha Ha) add vocals to “Can You Feel the Power?” The toe-tapping finger-snapping traditional children’s song “Ladybugs” includes swinging Andrews Sisters style harmonies by Bess Rogers and Hannah Winkler. Hand in Hand was engineered, produced and mixed by Greg Mayo and Dan Weiner, who together with Suzi aimed to create an eclectic pop album with a modern feel. Children’s voices add lift to peppy and positive songs like the first track, “Put Your Hands in the Air,” and Suzi’s 13-year-old daughter Emma wrote and performed on the song, “We Shall Walk.”

 

Suzi Shelton

 More about Suzi Shelton

 

The proud mother of two children, Suzi also works and performs regularly with students at area schools. MomTrends called Suzi “one of our favorite musicians,” and the Brooklyn Spectator noted, “When Suzi Shelton takes the stage with her guitar and her band, you know that something special is about to happen.” In addition to family concerts in and around NYC this spring and summer, Suzi is also working on her fifth season of FREE Sing with Suzi videos on YouTube. She is constantly creating new songs and video content for her preschool fans. Visit www.suzishelton.com for updates.

Connect with Suzi on Facebook: Suzi Shelton Music, Instagram: SuziMusic,Twitter: @SuziShelton , and YouTube: Suzi Shelton.

Credit: Sugar Mountain PR.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Applejack – Wonderfully animated, delightful stories, great lessons!

Think work on the farm is easy? Then you don’t know jack – Applejack, that is! Honesty, patience and friendships are tested in a new collection of adventures featuring every pony’s favorite four-hooved apple lover! Join Applejack and her very best pals – Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy and Spike – as they experience the power and magic of true friendship. Bonus Feature: sing-along. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “Even though these episodes are clearly for younger kids, I can’t deny that I actually really like these episodes. I don’t think I’ll actually start watching the show, but this show can be enjoyed by the whole family because it is very entertaining.” Adult juror Kimberly M. adds, “I love the humor in these stories, the visual appeal, interesting storylines and great morals that children can easily pick up. The animation is big and colorful.” See their full reviews below.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Applejack

By Calista Bess, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

Even though these episodes are clearly for younger kids, I can’t deny that I actually really like these episodes. I don’t think I’ll actually start watching the show, but this show can be enjoyed by the whole family because it is very entertaining.

This DVD is a collection of five shorts from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, with most of the episodes centered around the character, Applejack. She is an important character in every episode, even the ones that are not centered around her. I am aware that My Little Pony actually has some pretty interesting stories and can get pretty dark, but these episodes are filler. They do also reference major events in past episodes and one episode has two characters who appear to be recurring characters, so I really wouldn’t recommend this DVD as a way to fully understand what takes place on the show.

That being said, Applejack has a sweet southern accent, works on a farm and appears to epitomize honesty. I like that My Little Pony shows have a moral compass that teach positive lessons. This show should make lots of parents happy.  My Little Pony has a ton of effort and care put into each episode. I’m very impressed with this show. Often times in shows, filler episodes are boring and they make you wish you were watching a story driven episode. This isn’t the case with these stories!

Now, My Little Pony has some really interesting characters. I love character driven stories and that best describes this series. The main cast consists of six characters, or “The Mane 6” as they’re often referred to outside the show. By the way, it’s an amazing pun. I really like when shows have a large cast of recurring characters that really make their world feel real. It helps world-building, character dynamics and of course, I love talking about characters in media. As I mentioned, these episodes focus mainly on one character, Applejack, but sometimes the other members of The Mane 6 share the spotlight.  If you like Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash and Rarity, then you will love this series because they are highly featured. My main issue is that, ironically, my favorite member of The Mane 6, Fluttershy isn’t in any of these episodes. I know the episodes are about Applejack, but from what I’ve seen of recent My Little Pony, Fluttershy is the most under-developed of the group. So please, My Little Pony creators, show some love and character development to Fluttershy. I give this DVD 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 12. The DVD is available now, so look for it.

My Little Pony: Friendship and Magic: Applejack

By Kimberly Mullins, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.

I found this DVD quite charming and filled with great lessons. Each episode in this collection is approximately 25 minutes in length. The storylines are very straightforward and the moral messages are charming and clear. They are very engaging for the target age. The characters draw you in with their multi-dimensional human personality traits. The language is quite suitable for the audience as well, although younger kids may not pick up every single word. The overall messages are what are important. Applejack, the main character, maintains an integrity even if others do something different. If she does something wrong, then she accepts the mistake as well as its consequences and, more importantly, apologizes. The other characters hold the same level of integrity as well. Questioning and probing are developed when certain problematic situations take place. An example is when a pair of scam artists dupe a crowd at a circus presentation into believing that a miracle product cures ills, Applejack instantly feels there is something fishy going on and is concerned when grandma pony purchases the elixir. In another episode, Applejack’s younger sisters and friends want to help build carts for a race, but the older sisters take over designing the carts. The race ends in a big crash, destroying the carts. The younger siblings assert that the holder ones took over their project and the resolution is for the younger ponies to rebuild their carts without interference from the older siblings. I love the humor in these stories, the visual appeal, interesting storylines and great morals that children can easily pick up. The animation is big and colorful. There are five episodes and bonus singalong. The messages address how to be a person of high character, getting along with others, owning up to mistakes and apologizing. I give this 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 through 9. Reviewed by Kimberly M., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

Books of the Week of May 24th!

A new picture book about mindful breathing from Nick Ortner is a must-read for young children!

A wonderful read for the chaotic preschool classroom or after a busy day before bed, MY MAGIC BREATH helps children process their emotions and consciously breathe through the moment to help find calm. With a read-along-breathe-along element, this new release provides prompts to inspire conversation between parent and child about how they feel:

  • Are there too many thoughts running through your mind?
  • What happened today that made you smile?
  • Did something happen that made you feel sad or mad?

I really like how this teaches pre-schoolers to be calmer and it’s great for ages 4-8!

Nick Ortner is CEO of the Tapping Solution, LLC, a company with a mission to promote the natural healing method known as Emotional Freedom Techniques or “tapping” (a combination of Chinese healing practices). This is his second children’s book; his first was The Big Book of Hugs. He is also the New York Times bestselling author of The Tapping Solution, The Tapping Solution for Pain Relief, and the upcoming book The Tapping Solution for Manifesting Your Best Self. Nick lives in Newtown, CT, with his wife and daughter, June. You can find Nick at facebook.com/nortner.

Alison Taylor is an elementary school teacher and coauthor of The Big Book of Hugs. She writes to inspire young people, especially her beloved June and Harris, to find what makes them happy. She lives in Connecticut with her husband.

Michelle Polizzi is an illustrator and designer living and working in California. This is her second book working alongside Nick Ortner and Alison Taylor. She lives in the East Bay with her sons, Rowan and River, her husband, Nick, and their beloved Frenchie, Oscar, where they spend their days creating and inspiring one another. You can see more of her work at designbylovelyday.com.

Are you looking forward to the Royal Wedding? 

I love these book choices!

My favorite is the Harry and Meghan Paperdolls!

Commemorate the wedding of the year with paper dolls of the royal couple! The world will be watching when Prince Harry of Wales and Meghan Markle wed in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle — and you can relive the events leading up to the big day with this fabulous paper doll collectible. Dress the royal couple in the outfits they wore to their engagement announcement or choose from Harry’s Invictus Games T-shirt, Meghan’s ensemble for her first official duty, and more. Includes two dolls and 14 costumes.

Price: $9.99

Who Am I? by Steve Simpson is a great one for Teenagers!

Nationally recognized and award-winning, Simpson is a child advocate, child abuse survivor and media commentator who  released The Teenage and Young Adult Survival Handbook — a small guide that is modestly tucked inside in all four of his YA adventure novels which covers most of the topics plaguing young people today—suicide, bullying, sexual abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, self-worth, being the child of an addict, living in a dysfunctional home, surviving school and more. This is a way for children and teens to seek help in a private way.

I think this is a must-read for all teens! It may be helpful for adults to read too!

I’m always stressed about what grade I’m going to get on my next test. There always seems to be a hassle with at least one teacher. There is constantly drama with some other student and half of the time I don’t even know why. I’m tired when I wake up in the morning and I dread going. I can’t stand half the kids and don’t even like the building. The only thing worse than going to school and dealing with all of this is not going to school and dealing with the abuse and drama in my house! I never look forward to holidays and the summer is like one big holiday. More time home, more time with my abusive parent, more chances of at least getting verbally abused if not worse. And for some reason my non-abusive co-dependent parent thinks its okay to tell me about all the problems and worries, not to mention the horrible things that might happen to us. I wish I could just go into suspended animation for the summer until the new school year starts or just plain get off of this world!

These are some of the thoughts that many young people who live in abusive or dysfunctional homes think this time of year. I was one of those abused children and these were my thoughts exactly with the love/hate relation of school. The end result almost equivocally ends with thoughts of suicide or running away, to which I tried both. This is why I have spent my adult life speaking and writing books on these topics. Even students who seem fine in school can return after the summer a different person, ready to give up after a long summer in an abusive or dysfunctional home.

Author Steve Simpson covers these and similar topics such as suicide, child abuse, being a child of an alcoholic, self-esteem, bullying and surviving the holidays in a dysfunctional home in The Teenage and Young Adult Survival Handbook which is found in all of Steve’s novels Who Am I?The World is WrongRunaway and Child’s Island.

Do you have a Baseball fan in the house?

Sports Illustrated Kids Books. THE BASEBALL FANBOOK  is such a fun little book that middle readers (& older) are going to be obsessed with, especially the MLB quizzes at the end of the book. I actually found the quizzes at the end quite fun! This book will be a hit for summer reading!
This is the next installment in the popular Fanbook series (The Football Fanbook, August 2017), and is chock-full of all the nerdy-cool insider knowledge that fans ready for next-level, in-depth stats need to know. Tailor-made for baseball fanatics who know the basics of the sport they love and are looking to become super fans, this new fanbook is filled with fun trivia, unique lingo, and illustrated behind-the-skills how-to’s. Chapters include Team Tidbits (facts about every MLB team), Think Like a Manager (essential strategies), He Reminds Me Of (comparing current plays to legendary greats), and much more!
I love this next fun series for young children! 
       

STICKY FACTS is an innovative, kid-friendly approach to beloved topics for ages 6 and up, featuring a cutting-edge sticker sheet design that allows for text and color images to appear underneath the sticker. This is such a fun way to learn new facts! I recommend for all younger children!

ABOUT THE BOOKS
The STICKY FACTS: WHAT WILL YOU FIND? series includes…

STICKY FACTS: ANIMALS— A veritable sticker field guide to the animal kingdom and the habitats they call home, readers will learn how to tell two zebras apart, what happens when a squirrel falls out of a tree, why meerkats stand up, and more

STICKY FACTS: CONSTRUCTION— Teaches readers about the powerful machines and massive monster-size trucks that encompass the world of construction. Learn where to find a construction elevator, where the “steam” in “steamroller” comes from, the body parts that most resemble stabilizers, and more

STICKY FACTS: NEW YORK—At once at once an interactive activity book and the ultimate interactive guide to the Big Apple, readers will learn whether Lady Liberty can dance, how many miles comprise the subway tracks, the number of art pieces housed within the famed MoMA, and more about the city so nice, they named it twice!

 Unlike average sticker books, each sticker page features questions with facts hidden underneath the relevant sticker. Once the sticker is peeled o­ff, the fascinating fact is revealed. Activity pages with corresponding prompts are featured next to the sticker pages for readers to use as fuel for sticker landscapes, adding hours of fun to the whole experience!

I love the Pout-Pout Fish series and love that this one addresses bullying!

THE POUT-POUT FISH AND THE BULLY-BULLY SHARK

Mr. Fish has always been a sensitive soul, and in this time he tackles his most challenging anxiety yet— a bully. Swim along with Mr. Fish as he teaches the bully shark about kindness and being a friend. I recommend this one for all pre-schoolers and young children because it teaches such an important lesson in a delightful way! I love the characters and the illustrations are amazing!

Rosemary Wells Launches New Preschool Picture Book Series!

I love this author and remember reading Max & Ruby books with my son when he was younger.

Picture book legend Rosemary Wells (creator of beloved characters Max and Ruby, Noisy Nora, Yoko, etc.), whose titles have sold in excess of five million copies worldwide, is launching a new preschool picture book series, KIT AND KABOODLE (Henry Holt and Co. BYR,  Ages 4-8) — sure to be an enduring classic!

With gentle messages of kindness and sharing, this story — starring a brother-and-sister twin cat duo, Kit and Kaboodle, and the mischievous mouse, Spinka — is a great entry point to talking about feelings and emotional intelligence in a preschool setting.

The characters are delightful and I absolutely love the colorful illustrations!

Do you have young children who love board books? Sesame Street 5 Little Rubber Duckies and 10, 9, 8…Owls Up Late Teach Little Ones to Count should be added to their home library!

These books are too cute and really fun to read! Sesame Street: 5 Little Rubber Duckies (Studio Fun; ISBN: 9780794441197; $11.99; 12 pgs) is perfect for pre-schoolers! What a fun way to learn to count from 1-5! Join Ernie and his friends on Sesame Street as they try to find five little rubber duckies in this fun, hands-on board book! With touch and trace elements perfect for little hands and plastic duckies to push and count along, this book is the perfect story time activity for early learners. Also available in Spanish (5 Patitos de Hule)!

In 10, 9, 8…Owls Up Late! (Silver Dolphin; ISBN: 9781684121847; $9.99; 26 pgs; Ages 3-5) ten little owls are playing in a tree, hopping and hooting happily. But Mama Owl calls from down in the nest, “It’s bedtime now; it’s time to rest.” Peek through the pages and spot the mischievous owls in this fun counting book, perfect for bedtime! Featuring fun rhyming text, funny illustrations and peek-through die-cut pages. I love the illustrations in this charming book!

Self Disclosure: I received free copies of the above books to feature and only feature books that I highly recommend! Cover images were also provided.