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FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., SEASON 4 - PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DVD, AGES 12-18
Description - Today's leading artists, politicians, activists, performers and journalists will discover surprising ancestral stories while learning their family history in the fourth season of the critically acclaimed series. Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, continues exploring the mysteries, surprises and revelations hidden in the family trees of 28 of today's most intriguing cultural trailblazers.<

In "FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., SEASON 4", comedian Larry David and politician Bernie Sanders discover they have more in common than they thought, tracing their roots back to Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. Comedic performers Amy Schumer, Aziz Ansari and Maya Rudolph learn contrasting stories of assimilation and independence all over the globe. Actors Fred Armisen and Christopher Walken and musician Carly Simon each learn about a grandparent whose real identity and background had been a mystery to them. Author Ta-Nehisi Coates, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, and author and activist Janet Mock see their basic assumptions about their families challenged, placing their ancestors -- of all colors -- into the greater context of black history.

Actors Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and William H. Macy trace their nonconformist ancestors through American conflicts -- the Civil War and the American Revolution, all the way back to the Puritan establishment. Journalists Bryant Gumbel and Suzanne Malveaux and producer and writer Tonya Lewis-Lee discover a tapestry of the unexpected as they delve into their ancestry, revealing slaves and free people of color, Civil War legacies, and forgotten European origins. Actor Lupita Nyong'o, NBA star Carmelo Anthony and political commentator Ana Navarro trace their African heritage, investigating the political choices of their fathers and discovering sometimes unexpected heritage. Also, actors Tea Leoni and Gaby Hoffmann both have lives shaped by family mysteries and are introduced to the identities and life stories of their biological ancestors, thanks to DNA detective work. DJ and producer Questlove, talk show host Dr. Phil, and journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault's family stories are rooted in the American south. Actors Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd and John Turturro, all with immigrant parents, gain greater understanding of the unique challenges their ancestors faced by way of prejudice and poverty at home and abroad.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The title speaks for itself. I really enjoyed watching people find out about their ancestors in this series. Most are really surprised and some, visibly shaken by the information that is shared. You get to see a side of your favorite or not-so-favorite celebrity that's really up close and personal. This series allows you to think about your own past and your own ancestors and the struggles they may have endured. I wondered if Professor Gates would ever interview non-celebrities. Maybe he has, but hasn't included that in his series because it wouldn't be of interest to the general population. This series helps us to understand how people lived many, many years ago and what their lives were like. Professor Gates even shows countries that may no longer exist or he shows pictures of one's ancestors that people have never seen and had no idea of their relationship with them. The DNA tests that are done at the end of each episode is an added feature that helps individuals understand more about who they are and where they and their ancestors came from. Finding your roots is a history lesson by itself. I've learned tidbits about the Civil War, American Revolution, the Holocaust, Quakers, World War II, Japan and Germany. I hope that watching this series encourages young adults to look for their own roots. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 as well as adults. Reviewed by Tina Bunch, KIDS FIRST! Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult review
Runtime: 600 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 39.99 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SPIRITED AWAY - SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: FEATURES, AGES 8-18
Description - Chihiro's family is moving to a new house, but when they stop on the way to explore an abandoned village, her parents undergo a mysterious transformation and Chihiro is whisked into a world of fantastic spirits ruled over by the soceress Yubaba. Put to work in a magical bathhouse for spirits and demons, Chihiro must use all her wits to survive in this strange new place, find a way to free her parents and return to the normal world. Overflowing with imaginative creatures and thrilling storytelling, Spirited Away became a worldwide smash hit, and is one of the most critically-acclaimed films of all time.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Studio Ghibli's deluxe Spirited Away DVD Set is a delectation for the senses. This highly enjoyable Miyazaki masterpiece keeps your eyes transfixed throughout. Spirited Away was released in 2001 in Japan (2003 in US) and nabbed Best Animated Feature at the 2003 Academy Awards.

Spirited Away tells the story of a young girl, Chihiro, who, on the way to her new home gets sidetracked with her family and discovers a magical, unknown world. At the beginning of the film, they wander into an abandoned town where Chihiro's parents get turned into pigs. The rest of the film is a grand adventure where she tries to save her parents from the manipulative clutches of the Yubaba, the Sorceress and owner of the bath house of the gods.

The DVD set includes two discs, a Blu-Ray and a traditional DVD. It also includes bonus features, such as the "making of" Spirited Away, a Nippon Television special; Behind The Microphone, a behind-the-scenes look at the English translation and voiceovers; the original Japanese theatrical trailers; the original Japanese TV spots; and a wonderful booklet with statements from the filmmakers.

In the Nippon Television special, Miyazaki talks about the process of making Spirited Away at Studio Ghibli headquarters. This special gives us an inside look at Studio Ghibli and the thought process of Miyazaki. It shows us the art of creating the film and the dire time constraints in the animation process. Miyazaki tells us how he had to hire double the amount of animators in order to make the deadline for this film. He also goes into how there were so many late nights at the studio, so he had to entrust some of his work to one of his fellow coworkers.

In Behind the Microphone, we see how much effort goes into making the English language version of the film. Narrated by director John Lasseter (who spearheaded the English language translation), this wonderful short shows us how the English-speaking actors match their voices' to the movement of the characters' mouths in the animation.

This Spirited Away deluxe set is everything you could ask for. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18.

Reviewed by Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18
Runtime: 125 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 12.99 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE (2018) - SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: FEATURE, AGES 7-18
Description - From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away, and acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki, comes the Academy Award�- nominated* fantasy adventure for the whole family. Sophie, a quiet girl working in a hat shop, finds her life thrown into turmoil when she is literally swept off her feet by a handsome but mysterious wizard named Howl. The vain and vengeful Witch of the Waste, jealous of their friendship, puts a curse on Sophie and turns her into a 90-year-old woman. On a quest to break the spell, Sophie climbs aboard Howl's magnificent moving castle and into a new life of wonder and adventure. But as the true power of Howl's wizardry is revealed, Sophie finds herself fighting to protect them both from a dangerous war of sorcery that threatens their world. *2005: Best Animated Feature, Howl's Moving Castle
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Studio Ghibli's deluxe Howl's Moving Castle DVD set is the key to all the magic in this world. This profoundly charming Miyazaki monument draws out all the negative energy in your body and fills you with its creative storyline. Howl's Moving Castle was released in 2004 in Japan and 2005 in the U.S.A. It won a myriad amount of awards including the Tokyo Animation of the Year Award in 2005 and was nominated for the 2006 Oscars for Best Animated Feature Film.

Howl's Moving Castle tells the story of an unconfident young woman, Sophie, who leads an unexciting life at her father's hat shop. All of that instantly changes when she is saved by Howl from two hooligans looking to heckle her. An evil witch known as the Witch of the Waste takes offense at her befriending Howl and casts a curse on Sophie, turning her into an old lady. Sophie's one hope of releasing the curse lies with a self-centered, troubled wizard and his comedic entourage.

The DVD set includes two discs, a Blu-Ray and a standard DVD. It also includes a mystical treasure trove full of valuable bonus features, such as Feature Length Storyboards; Behind the Microphone; Interview with Diana Wynne Jones (writer of the book Howl's Moving Castle); Miyazaki's visit to Pixar; The Birth Story of the Film Soundtrack; Explanation of CG; Original Theatrical Trailers; TV Spots; and an exclusive booklet with statements from the filmmakers.

In the Behind The Microphone special, Emily Mortimer, the English dub voice for Sophie, states that it's hard to build up emotion with voice acting because it's so quick. Billy Crystal expresses that there is never one layer to a Miyazaki film and that there is a lot of emotional depth among all the characters. We also hear from the other voice over actors - Jean Simmons, Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall and Blythe Danner.

In Miyazaki's Visit to Pixar, Miyazaki talks with his biggest fan and friend, John Lasseter, the Chief Creative Officer at Pixar (now at Disney). Miyazaki starts by gifting Lasseter a giant model of the cat bus from My Neighbor Totoro, another Studio Ghibli classic. Later on, they interview Lasseter on his opinions of Miyazaki and his artistic animation style. He states that, in any of Miyazaki's films there are at least ten original ideas. Lasseter later expresses that Miyazaki's films always makes you think and question the world you live in.

This immensely marvelous Howl's Moving Castle DVD deluxe set will instantly break any curse that is hindering you and allow you to enjoy life to the fullest. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18.

Reviewed by Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18
Runtime: 119 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 7-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 15.9 Media: DVD



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KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE (2018)
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KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE (2018) - SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: FEATURE, AGES 7-18
Description - From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away and Ponyo, and Academy Award�-winning* director Hayao Miyazaki, comes the beloved coming-of-age story of a resourceful young witch who uses her broom to create a delivery service, only to lose her gift of flight in a moment of self-doubt. It is a tradition for all young witches to leave their families on the night of a full moon and fly off into the wide world to learn their craft. When that night comes for Kiki, she embarks on her new journey with her sarcastic black cat, Jiji, landing the next morning in a seaside village, where her unique skills make her an instant sensation. Don't miss this delightfully imaginative and timeless story of a young girl finding her way in the world, featuring the voices of Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garofalo, Phil Hartman, and Debbie Reynolds.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Studio Ghibli's deluxe Kiki's Delivery Service DVD set is a treasure trove of magical proportions. This deeply amusing, Miyazaki classic captures your soul with its bewitching aerial perspective of Kiki's neighborhood. Kiki's Delivery Service was released in 1989 in Japan and 1990 in the U.S.A. It was bestowed a variety of awards, including Most Popular Feature at the 1990 Japanese Academy Awards.

Kiki's Delivery Service tells the story of a young girl, Kiki, who was born into a family of witches. At the age of 13, all witches must fly away from the nest for a certain extended period of time. This tradition is aimed to strengthen the witch's powers and make them more independent. On Kiki's journey, she ends up in a magnificent town in which no other witches live. At first, she has a hard time coping with the vastness of the town, but learns to be grateful when a bakery owner offers her attic for rent. Kiki makes a deal with the owner that if she delivers their goods via broomstick and does random chores around the shop she can work out of their attic rent free, with a bonus free breakfast. Thus, Kiki's delivery service is formed.

The DVD set includes two discs, a Blu-Ray and a standard DVD. It also includes a multitude of captivating bonus features, such as Feature Length Storyboards; Behind the Microphone; Creating Kiki's Delivery Service; Kiki and Jiji; Flying With Kiki; Producer's Perspective: Collaborating with Miyazaki; The Locations of Kiki's Delivery Service; Ursula's Painting; Original Theatrical Trailers; and even an exclusive booklet with statements from the filmmakers.

One of the best bonus features is Creating Kiki's Delivery Service, where we learn lots of wonderful inside information about the making of this film. Miyazaki tells how he wasn't originally the director for the film because all the creatives, including the director and screenwriter, had already been selected. Miyazaki expresses that he enjoyed making the time period vague in contrast with the artwork of the film. Miyazaki discloses that Kiki's Delivery Service was influenced by many cities including Stockholm, Ireland, San Francisco, Paris and a town in Italy. He later explains that Kiki's town was modeled after a charming, old town called Visby, in Sweden.

This enchanting Kiki's Delivery Service DVD archive is the most incredible thing since sliced bread. I give it at 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18.

Reviewed by Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18
Runtime: 105 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 7-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 12.99 Media: DVD


WE'RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT - PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DVD, AGES 4-9
Description - Based on the bestselling bedtime story book written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, which has sold over 11 million copies globally, the film follows siblings Stan, Katie, Rosie, Max, the baby, and Rufus the dog, who decide one day to go on an adventure through whirling snowstorms, oozing mud, and dark forests in search of bears! Featuring the voices of Olivia Colman (The Night Manager, Broadchurch), Pam Ferris (Matilda, Call The Midwife), and Mark Williams (Harry Potter), this animated story is filled with stunning visuals sure to enchant viewers along with its story of perseverance, optimism, and love of nature.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This animated film, based on the best-selling storybook We're Going on a Bear Hunt written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, brings the story to life! The vibrant visuals and brilliant musical score add a special quality to telling the story of a group of five siblings and their dog Rufus who decide to go on a bear hunt while their parents go to aid Grandma and her broken down car.

Their big brother Peter leads them on their quest over the countryside, lakes, oceans, and mountains and through a treacherous snowstorm. Throughout, they sing the famous chant: "We're going on a bear hunt. We're going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We're not scared."

I love the children's positive outlook and excitement as they never give up, continue and approach their various destinations. As they encounter "long, wavy grass", "a deep cold river", "thick, oozy mud", "a big dark forest", "a swirling, whirling snowstorm" and "a narrow, gloomy cave", they also sing their other chant: "We can't go over it. We can't go under it. Oh, no! We've go to go through it."

When one of the siblings, Rosie and their dog Rufus become separated from the rest of the family, their adventure takes an interesting turn, delivering more than they ever expected. I really enjoyed the suspense the additional storyline adds to the film. It brings an extra excitement to the story. Do the paw prints add up to anything? You will have to see this film to find out!

I have fond memories of reading this story in my early teaching days as well as singing the chants with the children. Currently I read to children in the schools and look forward to sharing this film with them in addition to reading the story. The accompanying Adventure Field Guide is a perfect addition for children, teachers and families as a supplement to explore their own great outdoor adventures!

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 9 as well as parents, caregivers and teachers. It will be available on DVD February 13, 2018, so be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Terry Solowey, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult review
Runtime: 24 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 4-9 Suggested Retail Price: $ 9.45 Media: DVD


AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: INTO THE AMAZON - PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DVD, AGES 8-18
Description - Tells the remarkable story of the 1914 journey taken by President Theodore Roosevelt and legendary Brazilian explorer Candido Mariano Da Silva Rondon into the heart of the South American rainforest to chart an unexplored tributary of the Amazon River. Filmed on location in the Brazilian Amazon, the film features the voices of Alec Baldwin as Roosevelt, Wagner Moura (Narcos) as Rondon and Jake Lacy (Girls) as Kermit Roosevelt. "AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: INTO THE AMAZON" is written, produced and directed by John Maggio, narrated by Oliver Platt, and executive produced by Mark Samels. With six American adventurers, including his son Kermit, Theodore Roosevelt spent eight harrowing weeks in one of the most remote and inhospitable places on earth, battling tenacious insects, deadly rapids, fever, hunger and exhaustion on a quest to map an unknown river in one of the wildest and most beautiful places on earth. What was anticipated to be a relatively tranquil journey turned out to be a brutal test of courage and character. Before it was over, one member of the expedition had drowned, another had committed murder and a third was abandoned to perish in the jungle. Roosevelt would badly injure his leg and beg to be left behind to die. More than a dramatic story of adventure and survival, the program shines a light on two of the western hemisphere's most formidable men and the culture and politics of their two formidable nations.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This American Experience/PBS program dramatically relates the true story of Teddy Roosevelt's eight-week journey in 1914 to chart an unexplored river in the Amazon. With narration by Oliver Platt and Roosevelt's diary entries, voiced by Alec Baldwin, the tale is full of adventure, intrigue and disaster, a testament to the willful, zestful and imperfect spirit of the former President who had just lost his bid for a third term in a bitter campaign. The black and white photography and very generous archival stills and film footage effectively evoke the time period as well as the mystery of the unexplored reaches of the Amazon. Well-paced and informative, with historians weighing in and filling in the details, the program is at once a slice of history, an engrossing adventure narrative and a cautionary tale of dangerous bravado, the trip nearly resulting in Roosevelt's death. A few scenes of naked native Indians serve the anthropological authenticity of the program. No bonus features are included. Recommended for ages 12 to 18 as well as adults. I give this 4 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Michael F., KIDS FIRST! Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 112 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 24.99 Media: DVD

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
PONYO - SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: DVD, AGES 5-18
Description - From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro,, and Academy Award�-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, comes a heartwarming adventure, now featuring hours of new bonus features never-before-released in North America. When Sosuke, a young boy who lives on a clifftop overlooking the sea, rescues a stranded goldfish named Ponyo, he discovers more than he bargained for. Ponyo is a curious energetic young creature who yearns to be human, but even as she causes chaos around the house, he father, a powerful sorcerer, schemes to return Ponyo to the sea.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Studio Ghibli's deluxe Ponyo DVD Set is an extraordinary sight to behold. This vastly entertaining Miyazaki creation enchants you with its spellbinding animation style. Ponyo was released in 2008 in Japan (2009 in US) and garnered several awards including the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year. The English language version includes such voice over talent as Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin and Betty White.

Ponyo tells the story of a five-year-old boy, Sosuke, who finds and becomes friends with a puzzling goldfish that he names Ponyo. Later on, he discovers that Ponyo is actually a goldfish princess who desires to become a human. Throughout their journey they overcome her father's displeasure of humans. Ponyo becomes so transfixed and loving towards Sosuke that he must undergo a few challenges set forth by her parents to see if he is worthy of her affection.

The DVD set includes two discs, a Blu-Ray and a traditional DVD. It includes over five hours of riveting bonus features, such as Feature Length Storyboards; Behind the Microphone; The Five Geniuses Who Created Ponyo; Interviews with Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki (Producer); Theme Song Press Conference and Theme Song Music Video; Opening Event at Hibiya Scala-Za Theatre; Hayao Miyazaki Press Conference; Creating Ponyo; Ponyo and Fujimoto; The Nursery; Scoring Miyazaki; Producers Perspective: Telling the Story; The Locations of Ponyo; Original Theatrical Trailers; TV Spots; and even an exclusive booklet with statements from the director.

In the Creating Ponyo special, Miyazaki tells us that Ponyo was made for a younger audience, such as five-year-olds, because he wanted to make a movie that was easier than My Neighbor Totoro for young children to understand. Miyazaki believes that five-year-olds are more perceptive than they are able to describe. He later states that Ponyo represents someone who has been released from the constraints of society. By watching this special, we learn how much respect Miyazaki has for children.

The Producer's Perspective is an interview with the producer, Toshio Suzuki. In this special we learn all the steps that go into making a Studio Ghibli film. First Miyazaki and Suzuki review Miyazaki's image boards and decide which is the best. The storyboards are then sent to the animators. He later states that their method hasn't changed over the past 30 years. He finishes by saying that well developed characters are the foundation of any Miyazaki film.

In The Nursery special, Toshio Suzuki states that it was Miyazaki's dream to establish a Studio Ghibli nursery for the employees' children and, during this production, it became a reality. Suzuki goes on by saying that the storyline changed halfway through production from being totally set at the nursery to also taking place at an old folks home and the house on the hill.

This highly rich Ponyo DVD extravaganza is a must have for any Studio Ghibli fan. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18.

Reviewed by Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18
Runtime: 90 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 9.99 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR

Click above to view YouTube video of
MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO 2018
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MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO 2018 - SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: DVD, AGES 5-18
Description - From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away and Ponyo, and Academy Award�-winning* director Hayao Miyazaki, comes a classic tale of magic and adventure for the whole family. When Satsuki and her sister Mei move with their father to a new home in the countryside, they find country life is not as simple as it seems. They soon discover that the house and nearby woods are full of strange and delightful creatures, including a gigantic but gentle forest spirit called Totoro, who can only be seen by children. Totoro and his friends introduce the girls to a series of adventures, including a ride aboard the extraordinary Cat Bus, in this all-ages animated masterpiece featuring the voices of Tim Daly, Lea Salonga, and real-life sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning, in one of their earliest roles.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - It is virtually impossible to not be charmed by this early feature film from Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki of the legendary Studio Ghibli. The story of two young sisters befriended by a huge, oval-shaped forest spirit named Totoro while their mother recuperates from an illness is disarming in its mix of the everyday with the fantastical and the director's unique East-meets-West style. The hand-drawn animation is impressionistic and the attention to detail is incredible, with great use of color and challenging elements such as water rendered convincingly. Throughout, the director's particular whimsy and taste for the quirky bubbles to the surface (a giant cat that acts as a bus), traits that Miyazaki would further explore in later works such as Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle and Ponyo. The Blu-ray DVD of the English-dubbed My Neighbor Totoro features real-life sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning voicing the central protagonists and is pristine in both image and sound. Bonus features include several making-of shorts, extensive storyboards and an exclusive full-color booklet. Rated G, there is a brief consideration of death and a few intense moments. This is animation of the highest order: heartfelt, lovingly crafted, frequently amusing and occasionally poignant. Recommended for ages 6 to 18 and older. 5 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Michael Fishman, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

I love this film, there is no getting around it. It is wonderful. It is loved by everyone is my household, as are all of the Studio Ghibli films and works of Hayao Miyazaki. This particular English dubbed version came out in 2005 from Disney studios. The music in this movie is phenomenal and catchy. Since I've had my two-year-old, I have probably watched this movie several hundred times and, both of us are still sit and sing along with the story like it's the first time we've watched it. The story is so captivating. It's about two young girls that move to the country with their father, while eagerly waiting for their mother to be released from the hospital. On the first day in their new home, they encounter Soot Sprites. After this, you are instantly aware that there is something special about this new home. One day, the younger sister Mei encounters a forest spirit named Totoro and from there things get absolutely magical. Totoro is a giant smiling creature and he used scare my two-year-old quite a bit, but after a while he started to see how kind and caring Totoro is. There is a short film called Mei and the Catbus that serves as a mini sequel to My Neighbor Totoro, but it is only able available at the Studio Ghibli Museum in Japan. I recommend this film for ages 4 to 18 and give it 5 out of 5 stars! It is truly one of our all time favorites! Reviewed by Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The anime movie My Neighbor Totoro is cute and funny, yet somehow still realistic. Even though some parts are sad, that adds to the plot and makes the story even better. It starts with two sisters, 4-year-old Mei and 12-year-old Satsuki. When Mei runs off and meets a large, mischievous forest spirit named Totoro, their lives are changed forever.

My Neighbor Totoro is directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Every scene is hand-drawn, unlike modern CGI movies. The rural setting and characters just feel real. In one scene, Mei trips and falls instead of running on. This gives a sense of reality, instead of edited perfection.

The story starts when Mei, Satsuki and their father move to a new house while their mother is in the hospital. They soon discover that their house is inhabited by forest spirits, such as the soot gremlins. Nearby, Totoro lives in a huge camphor tree and a magical, eight-legged cat bus is a normal mode of transportation for them.

After Satsuki and Mei get into an argument, Mei runs away. This part is so heartbreaking! With the help of Totoro...you'll see. The ending is a surprise you'll enjoy!

Hayao Miyazaki has also directed other enjoyable anime movies, such as Kiki's Delivery Service and Spirited Away. Recently, Hayao Miyazaki came out of retirement. I, for one, cannot wait to see another Miyazaki directed film!

My Neighbor Totoro is cute, funny and realistic. However, I feel that something is missing. Totoro sounds like the main character, but he is on the screen for only a few scenes. Therefore, the movie somehow seems incomplete. The fact that I want more from it only proves how captivating it is.

Overall, My Neighbor Totoro is an amazing movie. In 1988, when this movie came out, anime was not that popular. My Neighbor Totoro set off a craze for anime in the U.S. that has not stopped yet. The special features unravel the magic by describing how the characters were created, the real life inspiration for the movie's unique locations and more.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 8 to 12. You can view this on DVD or Blu-Ray now. If you enjoy anime, cute and quirky characters, or just a realistic movie, check this out!

Reviewed by Eden T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Even after 25 years, My Neighbor Totoro remains an instantly watchable animated masterpiece that holds new surprises from every time I watch it.

Satsuki and Mei are sisters who move to the Japanese countryside with their father. The children are fascinated with the quirks of their new house, as well as the vast nature surrounding it. Satsuki goes to school and Mei begins to explore a fantastical world beneath a large tree in the backyard. She meets three little creatures and names one of them Totoro. Mei tells her sister about the adventure, but Satsuki does not believe her. During the next few days, the sisters discover more and more about their neighborhood and adjust to their new way of life.

My Neighbor Totoro effortlessly crafts and develops so many different poignant stories. It is a coming-of-age tale, as well as a story about how we deal with change and about the bond between two siblings. Totoro, his little pals and the world they inhabit add a whole other layer to an already complete narrative. The magical elements intertwine with Satsuki and Mei's story. They bring light to the siblings, during a scary and dark time in their life. The elements of magic add some levity to less joyful parts of the film, giving closure to the audience as to the characters.

The film never reveals too much about Totoro and a lot about him remains a mystery, even after the credits roll. He is so adorably drawn and never feels threatening. He has no dialogue, excluding a few grunts here and there, but is still one of my favorite things about this film. He brings a kind of magic that resonates with you every time he is on screen.

The lesson of My Neighbor Totoro is to never lose faith in what you believe in. Mei's belief in the magic of Totoro never falters and for that, Totoro helps her and Satsuki not just because they are kind souls, but also because they both learn to believe in his magic.

I recommend this film for ages 4 to 18. It appeals to all ages and has practically nothing objectionable for young audiences. I think adults will marvel at the spellbinding animation and wonderful story. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. You need to see this special re-release if you haven't already fallen in love with this film.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Runtime: 90 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 9.99 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
EPIC INSIDE STORY OF
EPIC INSIDE STORY OF "FRONTLINE: PUTIN'S REVENGE", THE - PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DVD, AGES 12-18
Description - The program draws on more than 60 interviews with heads of U.S. intelligence agencies, diplomats, Russian politicians, historians and journalists to trace how Putin went from low-ranking KGB agent to long-serving president of a newly assertive Russia with the ability to wage cyber-war in the U.S. and across the globe. With in-depth reporting from Moscow and Washington, D.C., PUTIN'S REVENGE is a riveting and revealing documentary that explores why Putin has sought to sow distrust in America's democracy.

The first part of the program is a portrait of what makes the Russian leader tick, and the events that shaped his belief that the U.S. has sought to undermine Russia dating back to the fall of the Soviet Union. It explores how Putin came to power and then carefully constructed his image, cracking down on independent media outlets and opponents. It also traces key turning points in Putin's relationship with the U.S. over the years, including how his fear of a U.S. policy of regime change intensified, and how he came to see Hillary Clinton in particular as an enemy trying to oust him - despite State Department insistence it was only promoting democracy, not trying to steer the outcome of Russia's election.

The second half delves into the riveting story of Russian involvement in the 2016 election, and how and why the Obama administration struggled to confront Putin about both election interference and, before that, Putin's actions in Ukraine. The program shows Donald Trump's repeated praise of Putin, how Russia is believed to have weaponized hacked emails to influence U.S. news cycles and exploit the gulf between Hillary Clinton's and Bernie Sanders' supporters, and how false stories picked up by Russian propaganda websites were then promoted by Russian trolls and bots on social media, and eventually found their way onto mainstream American news broadcasts.

Against the backdrop of investigations by the FBI and Congress into the role Russia played in the election, Putin's Revenge is the must-watch, inside story of how we reached this point, what drives Putin, and what might happen next
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Attention-Grabbing! This fact based, true-life story was so interesting to watch. Vladimir Putin is definitely a curious man. Anyone who wants to learn more about his history and ties to the U.S. should watch this documentary. Putin's history is very dramatic. He is a former KGB officer and Prime Minister, who took over the presidency of Russia on December 31, 1999, after the former president resigned. As President, he has implemented many changes to Russian politics, including reducing democracy and transitioning back to Soviet Union era policies. The first half of is about Putin's history. The second part is about the Russian involvement with the U.S. 2016 Presidential Election. It is eye-opening.

This documentary dives deep into the history of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, his ties to the United States, and the chronicled possible interference with the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, his "revenge." Part 1 tells the story about Vladimir Putin, the current Russian President, former intelligence officer for the Soviet Union's KGB and Russian Prime Minister. Did you know that he is a man infatuated with how he is perceived by others? He is obsessed with television, and has gone so far as to get top TV execs fired for airing shows that portray him negatively or comically. He now has complete control over what his country views on public television. Even the news channels are only allowed to show footage that has been approved by this President. Part 2 focuses on leaked emails, Facebook ads and fake news....all linked to Russian hackers. It addresses how cyber intrusions instigated by Russians affected how U.S. people voted. The saga continues as we hear about why and how this was executed. Your thoughts will be spinning as you watch this story unfold. This is a documentary, so the characters are real life as are the clothing they wear. It definitely held my interest and is professionally produced. I learned a lot about the Russian President and about the U.S. Presidents that have dealt with him in the past. There is so much information that I had never heard of prior to watching this film.

This is a documentary you do not want to miss! It takes a deep dive into Putin's past, his policies, his personal character and his involvement with the U.S. 2016 Presidential election. I recommend this film for ages 13 to 18, as well as adults, and give it 4 out of 5 stars. The DVD releases on January 30, 2018.

Reviewed by Amanda McNeely, KIDS FIRST! Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Attention-Grabbing! This fact based, true-life story was so interesting to watch. Vladimir Putin is definitely a curious man. Anyone who wants to learn more about his history and ties to the U.S. should watch this documentary. Putin's history is very dramatic. He is a former KGB officer and Prime Minister, who took over the presidency of Russia on December 31, 1999, after the former president resigned. As President, he has implemented many changes to Russian politics, including reducing democracy and transitioning back to Soviet Union era policies. The first half of is about Putin's history. The second part is about the Russian involvement with the U.S. 2016 Presidential Election. It is eye-opening.

This documentary dives deep into the history of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, his ties to the United States, and the chronicled possible interference with the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, his "revenge." Part 1 tells the story about Vladimir Putin, the current Russian President, former intelligence officer for the Soviet Union's KGB and Russian Prime Minister. Did you know that he is a man infatuated with how he is perceived by others? He is obsessed with television, and has gone so far as to get top TV execs fired for airing shows that portray him negatively or comically. He now has complete control over what his country views on public television. Even the news channels are only allowed to show footage that has been approved by this President. Part 2 focuses on leaked emails, Facebook ads and fake news....all linked to Russian hackers. It addresses how cyber intrusions instigated by Russians affected how U.S. people voted. The saga continues as we hear about why and how this was executed. Your thoughts will be spinning as you watch this story unfold. This is a documentary, so the characters are real life as are the clothing they wear. It definitely held my interest and is professionally produced. I learned a lot about the Russian President and about the U.S. Presidents that have dealt with him in the past. There is so much information that I had never heard of prior to watching this film.

This is a documentary you do not want to miss! It takes a deep dive into Putin's past, his policies, his personal character and his involvement with the U.S. 2016 Presidential election. I recommend this film for ages 13 to 18, as well as adults, and give it 4 out of 5 stars. The DVD releases on January 30, 2018.

Reviewed by Amanda McNeely, KIDS FIRST! Juror
Runtime: 120 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 24.99 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
LILY'S DRIFTWOOD BAY: SEASON 1 (2018) - N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT
Series: DVD, AGES 2-5
Description - Welcome to Lily's Driftwood Bay. Lily is six years old and lives with her dad and her best friend, who is a seagull named Gull, in a little hut on the beach. Across the way is Driftwood Bay, a special island that exists in Lily's imagination. Every day the sea washes up a new treasure which sparks Lily's imagination about what might be happening on Driftwood Bay. Join Lily and her friends, Salty Dog, Bull, Nonna, Hatsie, Wee Rabbit and Lord Stag as they sail to Driftwood Bay where wonderful adventures await! Along with each adventure is a valuable lesson learned in each story from learning to tell the truth to saying sorry to asking for help. Embark on new adventures with Lily and friends as they travel to Driftwood Bay
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Watching Lily's Driftwood Bay gives me hope for future generations. Lily is always so kind to those around her and her life is filled with simple adventures that are genuinely interesting, shedding light on the fact that life doesn't always have to be busy to be enjoyable. Lily is an adorable little 5-year-old whom I adore for things like how respectful she is to her father. It is so touching to see a single father raising a daughter represented so positively. In this season, there is an episode called Goodbye Seabird and it is particularly touching and heart-breaking. In this episode, you learn a little bit about Lily's mom. What makes it so special is that not many children's shows acknowledge death, especially the death of a parent. The art is extremely cute. It looks like mixed media using colored pencils and paper cut-outs. The music is charming and blends well with the scenery. I highly recommend this for ages 3 to 6 and give it 5 out of 5 stars! Reviewed by Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Lily's Driftwood Bay: Season 1 is an amazing DVD. It's a fun way to teach kids about exploring their curiosity and discovering new things. The show takes its viewers into the world of Lily's fantasy. Each episode on this DVD has a great plot that brings you along the adventures in Lily's imagination. These episodes keep it very interesting and there is never a dull moment. It teaches good lessons in fun ways.

Lily's Driftwood Bay focuses on a world in Lily's imagination called Driftwood Bay. Lily finds new treasures on the sea shore everyday that spark her interest. She then travels in her imagination to Driftwood Bay where friends like Salty Dog, Lord Stag and Wee Rabbit help her find out what the object is and what it's used for.

My favorite thing about this show is the accents of the characters. All have British accents, which I love because it gives a different vibe to the show. Each adventure you take with Lily, teaches you a valuable lesson in such a fun way. This is truly a kid's dream film, because it shows a 6-year-old having fun in her own world, just like any other kid. My favorite episode would have to be Starfish in the Sky. That episode is about when Lily finds a telescope on the sea shore and wants to look at a constellation in the sky that looks like a star. At the end of the episode, everybody comes together to see the starfish and it is nice to see all of the characters in one spot. The show is really interesting and shows Lily's day to day life as well as the lives of her friends in Driftwood Bay. My favorite character has to be Salty Dog. He is such an amazing character and is always there for Lily. Salty is the one to drive the boat to take Lily to Driftwood and the one who tells her about the stars in the sky.

The message of this show is to not be afraid to ask others questions about things that interest you, just like Lily who asks her friends questions all the time. I recommend this DVD for ages 4 to 8 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. This DVD is available now, so check it out.

Reviewed by Dariana A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Runtime: 375 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 2-6 Suggested Retail Price: $ 9.99 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT!, THE: SEASON 2; VOLUME 1

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CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT!, THE: SEASON 2; VOLUME 1 - N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT
Series: DVD, AGES 3-8
Description - Enjoy volume one of the second season of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! follows the adventures of 6-year-old best friends, Sally and Nick, as they are whisked off on extraordinary voyages of scientific discovery with the Cat in the Hat. �Thanks to the Thinga-ma-jigger and our friends, exploring has never been more exciting! In this season set, learn everything from space topics like gravity, what causes day and night, the planets, earth's atmosphere to all about the human body like why do we sneeze, how and why the heart beats, why our stomach rumbles, how amazing our skin, and how important each different bone is in our body. The discoveries don't end there though! Embark on more numerous adventures where we learn all about animals such as why animal ears come in many shapes and sizes, how different animals carry their babies, who are the fastest creatures in the world, why male crickets chirp, how polar bears survive the arctic winter, how a snow leopard balances, and so much more! So let's go, go, go, go on an adventure, we're flying with The Cat in the Hat today!
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I always loved Dr. Seuss as a kid and it makes me happy to be able to share this The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That DVD with my children. Everyone is my house really loves puns and this show is a puntastic adventure during every episode. Sally and Nick are the 6-year-old main characters and they are the very best of friends. They love going on adventures with The Cat and seeing all of his goofy inventions. The kids are always very polite and ready for anything. They are however, quick to help The Cat see better ways to do things and I love that. A good chunk of this season is science relative and I'm glad that there is a show helping children discover great ways to approach "adults" (The Cat) and, either ask for help or offer up their knowledge on the subject matter. The animation is fun and eye-catching, the sound effects and music are kooky. I highly recommend this DVD for ages 3 to 7 and give it 5 out of 5 stars! Reviewed by Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Cat in the Hat: Season 2 portrays a dream-like world where learning is adventurous and engaging! Each episode takes you on a ride to a variety of places, some are even out of this world. The animation brings you into the realm of Dr. Seuss. I did not want to leave.

The story follows Sally (Alexa Torrington) and Nick (Jacob Ewaniuk) traveling through everyday life, curious and eager to understand the ways of the world. The Cat (Martin Short) always pops in at the right time to help them find the answers to their dilemmas. Together they hop on the Thingamajigger and fly on adventures to discover wonders.

Martin Short, the voice of the Cat, uses the perfect accent and voice to compliment the Cat's personality. He emphasizes certain words to achieve the goofiness in his voice. Alexa Torrington and Jacob Ewaniuk are the voices of the children, Sally and Nick, who grasp the innocence and youthful spirit by their voices. Rob Tinkler voices Fish, Thing 1 and Thing 2. The way he changes the tone and pitch of the various voices is quite unique. The voices for Thing 1 and 2 are high pitched and humorous, while the voice for Fish is lower and more serious.

The animation offers a portal into Dr. Seuss's world. The houses are crooked, yet appealing. The background hills, bushes and trees are slim and tall. The abstract Thingamajigger flies through the sky with its misshapen helicopter blades and bright red and orange colors.

My favorite part of this show is the Cat's personality. He brings fun to learning and, when explaining different conceptions, he adds a sense of humor. For example, when explaining that the brain receives and sends signals from the nose, a phone rings in his hat asking for his nose. He is clumsy and modest about being smart. He makes the children laugh and ends each episode with a joke.

The message of this DVD is learning can happen anywhere and is always an adventure. I give this DVD 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 10. It is available now so, be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The Cat in the Hat episodes are very colorful, exciting and educational. This season is no exception! Everything is upbeat and entertaining plus, you learn lots of new things. Even I learned some knew things from these episodes!

Season 2 is mostly about science topics. These episodes have lots of songs, jokes and puns, and they can travel anywhere. They can shrink or enlarge themselves to learn about everything. Also, the characters are extremely energetic, which makes you feel energized and uplifted because they are having such a good time.

The voice acting is amazing. All of the characters laugh so much and have a great time. They all sound so happy and amazed at everything they learn. Martin Short, as the voice of The Cat is perfect. His laughs are so contagious and he laughs so often. The children, Sally and Nick (Alexa Torrington and Jacob Ewaniuk) are just as ecstatic and energetic. They laugh a lot as well and are very positive kids. Short, Torrington and Ewaniuk all have wonderful singing voices that enhance the episodes.

The animation in these episodes is bright, colorful and detailed. The animation perfectly suits the educational side of these stories, because you can learn about the object, while seeing it clearly. The music and songs are quite clever and pleasing. The music is a vital part to these episodes.

My favorite episode is "Bounce" because, in that episode they teach many different things besides the topic of rubber. It is interesting to learn everything related to and around rubber.

The message of this DVD is to go outside on adventures, after first asking your parents permission (of course) as Sally and Nick do, and to enjoy what's around you. The Cat goes to Sally and Nick's and makes them happy every time by teaching them about their surroundings and showing them around. These episodes inspire you to learn more and shows how learning about new things is fun and exciting.

I give this DVD 5 out to 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 13. It is available now so, definitely go check it out.

Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Runtime: 220 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ 14.99 Media: DVD


VA: THE HUMAN COST OF WAR - PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DOCUMENTARY, 15-18
Description - VA: The Human Cost of War takes a broad look at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs - examining the organization's history, leadership, structure, funding and relationship to veterans. The film chronicles, in depth and often in wrenching detail, the workings of this crucial but at times beleaguered American institution.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The title speaks for itself. There's an old saying, "out of sight, out of mind." This DVD brings the cost of war into view, particularly for our returning soldiers. From the very beginning, we see the ravages of war. Generally, non military people have no idea of the affects of war. This DVD makes it clear and personal. The program begins with retired Army intelligence officer Daniel Somers' suicide note, read by his parents, which is a wake up call. It goes on to discuss the physical and mental effects of war on soldiers and the lack of help veterans receive from the Federal Government, which should be better prepared to help these soldiers returning from war zones. It addresses how many politicians don't want to face the reality of this problem.

The Veterans Administration is the second largest government agency and one of the most mismanaged. Over 57,000 veterans must wait three months or longer just to get a doctor's appointment. When they finally see a doctor, most often the doctor prescribes pills, pills and more pills. In 2014, 800,000 veterans' applications went unprocessed. 10,000 applications were lost. Over 307,000 veterans died waiting for help. This is very, very wrong! In 1996, Congress authorized outpatient clinics, but the demand outstripped the supply. In 1975, there were two million veterans over the age of 65. In 2016, there were 10 million vets! Our healthcare system for our veterans must be improved. This DVD reveals the shameful situation the VA is in today.

Young adults should question and investigate the material presented in this DVD, especially those considering joining the armed forces. It is shameful how the government treats its returning soldiers who have given their all and returned home half the person they were when they left. This is educational and a socially conscience piece. It is an eye-opener for the general public, many of whom may not a clue of how dismal the situation is for our vets. They have no idea how ill equipped the VA is to handle medical or mental health issues on a timely basis. Since 2013, we have had almost 20 vet suicides a day, because of the lack of appropriate health care.

As a nation, we should be questioning our Congressmen and women as well as local officials in regards to VA services. It's not just the physical affects of war that are killing our vets, but the mental and emotion illness as well. Suicide rates are very high among soldiers returning from war and who have not gotten any help from doctors to adjust to living with themselves after their wartime experiences. There aren't enough doctors to care for these soldiers once they leave the service. The Federal Government dropped the ball on taking care of returning soldiers and every one is paying the price. We have to do better.

I found the information in this DVD to be extremely disturbing and hence, reluctantly recommend it to older teens, ages 15 to 18. It is really most suited to adults. However, those teens considering joining the service would benefit greatly from this. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It is well produced and available now on DVD from PBS Distribution. Reviewed by Tina B., KIDS FIRST! juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 60 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 15-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 17.99 Media: DVD


NATURE: NATURE'S MINIATURE MIRACLES
NATURE: NATURE'S MINIATURE MIRACLES - PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18
Description - What happens if you re the little guy in a big bad world? This film tells the epic survival stories of the world's smallest animals. To make a living, these tiny heroes have evolved extraordinary skills and achieved mind-boggling feats. From nature's greatest artist to the tiny creatures that provide us with so much of the air we breathe, we discover what it takes to be a miniature miracle.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The world has some amazing animals, both big and small. This film shows how amazing some of nature's smallest creatures can be. These little creatures have to adapt and have super amazing survival skills. This film is educational and entertaining. I learned so many amazing facts about creatures such as the hermit crab and a hop less toad that can't hop, but can bounce out of danger. I enjoyed learning amazing facts about how these smallest creatures survive in a world surrounded with creatures so much bigger than they are. One of my favorite parts was learning about the hermit crabs on an Island in the Caribbean. They live in abandoned seashells and move into bigger seashells as they grow bigger. The photography is amazing and I love the variety of different creatures shown. I recommend this DVD for ages 7 to 18 as well as adults. I give it 5 stars out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult review
Runtime: 60 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 7-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 24.99 Media: DVD

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
OCTONAUTS: THE GREAT SWAMP SEARCH

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OCTONAUTS: THE GREAT SWAMP SEARCH - N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT
Series: DVD, AGES 3-7
Description - Dive into adventure with your favorite underwater explorers, the Octonauts! Join brave Captain Barnacles, daredevil ex-pirate, Kwazii, and medic Peso Penguin, along with the other Octonauts as they explore the world's oceans, rescue the creatures who live there and protect their habitats - above and below the waves! On this exciting DVD, join the Octonauts as they journey to the Everglades to help Tweak's dad, Ranger Marsh, track down several invasive species - including a Burmese Python and her babies! The adventures continue with six more exciting underwater missions!
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I love The Octonauts. This series is such a cute, effective way to convey real world issues, such as pollution, to children without making it seem wildly scary and overbearing. I genuinely adore watching these little creatures, led by their fearless leader Captain Barnacles who take on so many problems and have so much fun doing it. Tweak and Peso are very cute little characters and I personally love Peso because I am a penguin person. Who wouldn't want to have a medic penguin? In each episode, we meet new creatures and learn all about their habitats and how we can help to keep them safe and happy. My favorite parts by far are The Octonaut Creature Reports. These reports are mini, in-depth views into the creatures The Octonauts encounter along the way in their adventures. The music featured in these episodes is fun, informative and catchy! The animation is simple and my two-year-old really seems to love the style. This show is great for ages 2 to 6 and I give it 5 out of 5 stars! Reviewed by Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Juror.

Octonauts: The Great Swamp is appealing to the watch, and educational! The show effectively teaches kids about social issues such as invasive species and forest fires without making it scary. The characters are cute, and easy to follow. Each episode has a distinct goal to achieve, whether finding a lost flamingo in the swamp, or rescuing a family of Burmese pythons! The Octonauts, led by Captain Barnacles, work tirelessly to solve the mission together, focusing on the clues they find to guide them to a solution. They are led by the Octonaut motto, "Explore, rescue, protect!" The creature reports produce a fun and catchy song about each animal in the mission giving viewers more information, but the opportunity to learn through song. It's a fun, and educational feature! I recommend it for ages 2 to 7 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Kristin H., KIDS FIRST! Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This is a fun, educational, adventure-filled DVD with animals. The voice acting and plots bring a unique feel unlike other animated work. This is sure to be a hit with kids who love animation.

The story follows the adventures of an underwater exploring crew, the Octonauts which includes Captain Barnacles (Simon Greenall), Lieutenant Kwazii (Rob Rackstraw), Medic Peso (Wayne Greyson), Biologist Shellington (Keith Wickham), and Founder Grimpoteuthis (Keith Wickham). They are enticed by many adventures including the likes of returning animals to their homes, rescuing baby animals and finding the right turf for a group of hippos. Meanwhile, they discover new information about all the animals they are investigating.

Simon Greenall, as Barnicles, presents a commanding presence in leading the Octonauts, especially when choosing what is a priority. He is my favorite character because of this. Rob Rackstrawis, as Kwazii, is a fun member of the team who loves to help the animals and learn more about them. It is also interesting to see her reunion with her father who plays a big part in the first adventure. Wayne Greyson, as Peso, is an incredibly smart medic who wants to use his skills to save lives. Keith Wickham, as Shellington and Grimpteuthis, portrays two different characters who are of great importance to the team.

Darragh O'Connell directs this show with a Star Trek-esque tone of discovery. My favorite scene is the chase from the hippos because of the creative ways in which the Octonauts flee. It also feels like an extremely urgent scene. My only problem with the show is that, at times, the episodes are repetitive such as when they use the same plots with different animals.

The message of the show is to protect all animals and the ecosystem. Despite being treated unfairly by the animals, the Octonauts work around that to help them. They even give food to the hungry carnivores who threaten the ecosystem, while protecting the other animals. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12. This DVD is available now so be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Octonauts: The Great Swamp Search is like Mission: Impossible for younger audiences! There is danger and action at every corner and unique adventures. The music is engaging and made my heart race, adding to the thrilling effect. Along with the gripping stories, each episode cleverly incorporates interesting fun facts casually into the Octonauts' conversations.

The story follows the Octonauts - Captain Barnacles, Kwazii, Peso Penguin, Dashi Dog, Shellington, Tweak and Tunip who always come to the rescue. Each episode follows an entertaining and fresh storyline where the Octonauts face peril and must use teamwork and problem solving to save the day. They help a myriad of animals and learn much from their adventures.

Every species has a distinctive voice and accent. This adds to the element of diversity and uniqueness. Simon Greenall as Captain Barnacles makes it obvious through his authoritative voice that he is the captain. Kwazii (Rob Rackstraw) is a pirate and incorporates an interesting accent to enhance his character and add humor.

The animation is quite realistic, particularly the water, shadows, clouds and colors during different times of the day. The water moves so smoothly that I felt I could reach into their world and touch it. Throughout many scenes, reflections can be seen in the water and are extremely naturalistic. The clouds move subtly across different shots and the movement is memorable. Shadows of the trees, animals and the Octonauts are beautifully portrayed. In the shadows, underwater and during different times of day, the colors change intensity which boosts the sublime qualities of the animation.

The animated cinematography is special. There are many wide shots that show the Octonauts from afar and then zoom in, allowing the viewer a chance to enjoy the scenery, light and depth of the animation. The 3D effects create a world that doesn't seem so far from reality even though it is. It immersed me in the experience while learning about all the different species.

My favorite part is how fun facts are blended into the conversations. Even though it doesn't feel as you are leaning something, you learn many different things about hippos, crawfish and a multitude of other animals. The messages of this show is about teamwork, putting others before yourself and being kind to everyone. I give this DVD 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 12. It is available on DVD now so, be sure to check it out. It's great stealth learning.

By Sahiba K., KIDSFIRST! Film Critic, Age 15
Runtime: 90 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 3-7 Suggested Retail Price: $ 9.99 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
NAPPING PRINCESS

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NAPPING PRINCESS - SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: DVD, AGES 10-18
Description - In Napping Princess the year is 2020, three days before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics. While she should be studying for her exams, Kokone Morikawa is often dozing off, stuck between reality and a dream-world full of fantastic motorized contraptions. But after her father, a talented but mysterious mechanic, is arrested for stealing technology from a powerful corporation, it's up to Kokone and her childhood friend Morio to save him. Together they realize that Kokone's dream-world holds the answers to the mystery behind the stolen tech, and they embark on a journey that traverses dreams and reality, city and country, and past and present. Their mission uncovers a trail of clues to her father's disappearance and ultimately a surprising revelation about Kokone's family. Special Features: Interview with Kenji Kamiyama, Introduction at the Japanese Premiere, Greeting at Japanese Release, Okayama Scenery, Special Interviews with Cast, Special TV Program, Trailers and TV Spots.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - From GKIDS comes another imaginative Japanese animated film, Napping Princess. Set in the year 2020, this beautifully-rendered story follows Kokone, a high school senior whose rich fantasy world that she dreams about intersects with the real world as she uncovers a family mystery. The animation is bright and atmospheric, occasionally painterly, and the music ranges from playful to orchestral. The story is more sci-fi than fantasy (though firmly rooted in reality), yet magic plays a major role in the plot development. While occasionally predictable, the story is engaging and Kokone makes for a likable heroine, na�ve yet resourceful in a harsh world. The Blu-ray DVD is impressively sharp. Some strong language is sprinkled throughout. Bonus features include interviews with the director and voice cast members and a short video comparing the backgrounds in the film to the actual locations they are based on. I recommend it for ages 12 to 18 and older and give it 3 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Michael F., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Napping Princess is a wonderful anime about a lovely young lady drawn between reality and her dreams, due to the fact that she's always nodding off. In her dreams she has fun adventures and sees a fantastical land called Heartland. Little does she know that all of wild dreaming has started causing things to change in the real world as well. Kokone, the protagonist, soon finds that her father has been kidnapped under false pretenses and her beloved dream world holds the key. Her and her childhood friend set off to find her father and clear his name. I genuinely love this movie. I adore anime and am a huge fan of the studio that made this, Gkids. Although I wish that some of the characters had more depth, this film is brilliant and very cute. The animation is lovely and the story is fantastic. This film is great for ages 10 to 16, as well as adults. I give it 5 out of 5 stars! Reviewed by Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This film is very creative and entertaining. It reminds me a lot of Studio Ghibli films, which I love and I found myself completely immersed in this movie.

The story centers around a girl named Kokone, who I think has narcolepsy. She often dozes off and dreams about a kingdom known as Heartland. Her father is arrested and accused of stealing technology from a famous company and Kokone and her old friend Morio track him down.

I really like the two main characters, Kokone and Morio. I appreciate their dynamic friendship and their personalities. I truly believe they have a bond that can't be broken. Besides these two and Kokone's dad, none of the other characters stand out that much. Of course, I have to talk about the animation. The animation is beautiful. I've always loved Japanese animation and this film is no different. I love the backgrounds of both the real world and Heartland. I love how the characters move. All of it is so appealing. And speaking of visual stuff, the outfits that the characters wear are amazing. If there was an award for best costume design in animation, this film would win it!

The Heartland dream sequences are the best part of the movie. The dreams have their own story, separate to the story taking place in the real world. The dreams are my type of adventure. A kingdom with a combination of sci-fi and fantasy with lots of action? Perfect! It's also really ingenious. Ancien's magic tablet is one of the most original and imaginative inventions I've ever seen in fiction.

I also love the soundtrack. The background music has a pretty orchestral vibe. The music composer is Yoko Shimomura, a famous video game composer known for working on Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts. She also composed one of my favorite video game songs, so I got pretty excited finding this out.

The one thing that did bother me is that the movie is advertised as a sci-fi / fantasy movie. However, there isn't that much fantasy. The movie has elements of fantasy, such as in the dream sequences, but it doesn't feel as if it is an actual fantasy film. This bothered me just a bit. Also, certain things are left unexplained and that left me confused.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, due to some mild language. The film comes out on DVD January 30, 2018 so, check it out!

Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The Napping Princess is a prodigious film. It brings you into a world of fantasy and adventure. This movie is what everyone thinks about when they are kids but adds a cool twist. It is the type of film that has you so immersed in it, that it makes you want to be in the movie. The film is originally in Japanese, but the translation into English is so impressive that I couldn't believe it was originally in Japanese.

The story takes place in the year 2020, with Kokone (Mitsuki Takahata) dreaming about a world called Heartland. Then, Kokone's dad gets kidnapped for stealing technological ideas and Kokone and her friend Morio (Shinnosuke Mitsushima) must work together to save him. On their adventure, they find out that Kokone's Heartland holds the answers to saving her dad.

The Napping Princess is such an amazing movie. It has a plot that keeps you wanting more. The animation has the classic anime vibe to it. The only negative thing is that some of the words in the film are in Japanese, so it's a little hard to understand because they only have subtitles for some of the words. Even though the dialogue was originally in Japanese, the characters' mouths are still very in sync with the words they say. This story is about a kid's dream morphing into reality. It is such an imaginative story that with such a creative idea as its basis. My favorite character is Joi (Rie Kugimiya). Joi is Kotone's stuffed animal that comes to life in her dreams and is just so cute. My favorite scene is when one of the machines sprouts wings. I like it because it reminds me of a Red Bull commercial.

The message of this film is that things aren't always what they seem and, if you pay attention, the truth will come through. I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars because it has an awesome plot which I love and classic anime animation. I recommend this film for ages 7 to 14. It really is a very marvelous film and it is available now on DVD so go check it out.

Reviewed by Dariana A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Runtime: 111 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC: SPRING INTO FRIENDSHIP

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MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC: SPRING INTO FRIENDSHIP - SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: SERIES, AGES 5-12
Description - New Adventures Are Blooming! Big trouble is on the horizon when Twilight Sparkle is given only two coveted tickets to the most anticipated event in town! How will she decide which of her best friends gets to go with her? Discover the answer, and see four more amazing pony tales, as Twilight Sparkle, Spike, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity and Fluttershy help usher Springtime into Equestria!
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This DVD has beautiful graphics and animation. The character designs are super cute and the color palette and environments give the world a whimsical feel. The animation is stunning. The cover design is appropriate and I love that inside the DVD is a small sheet of cute stickers.

The stories and language are appropriate for the target age. The subject matter, designs and characters show a lack of cultural diversity. Most of the characters are female and they all have different personalities. There are some social elements included in the stories such as the importance of getting along with your siblings. I wish there were more of those types of elements in the stories. Some of the characters come off as a bit bratty but most of them portray positive social models and they treat each other respectfully. The stories have some conflict resolutions embedded in them although I wouldn't say there is deep learning from the resolution. Nonetheless, the stories are quite entertaining, have great design and are very appealing. The vocabulary is well suitable to its intended audience. I wish they dug a bit deeper with the conflict resolutions so that young minds watching would get more out of it. There is one episode about sister conflict where I felt that the resolution a bit rushed.

The DVD menu is simple and easy to navigate. I particularly like that there are no commercials. The DVD doesn't allow you to listen in different languages (which I wish it did). It does have a sing a long bonus feature which is super cute. This is definitely an entertaining show. The music, colors and the stories are entertaining with its overall message of friendship. This show appeals mostly to girls, although there are a number of boys and men who love it as well. I recommend it for ages 5 to 12 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Martha S. and Julie S.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - As always these My Little Pony episodes are very entertaining and have a great moral. These are no exception. The animation is so colorful, the plot line for each one is unique and they teach important lessons.

This DVD is based on friendship and each episode teaches you a valuable lesson of how to improve friendships, solve problems that might arise in your friendships or just get you to appreciate the friends that you have. The episodes have unpredictable storylines and beautiful, colorful animation which makes them interesting to watch.

Spike (Cathy Weseluck) is such a comedic character with a lot of personality. Cathy Weseluck voices him as an energetic Dino who is very helpful and playful. Spike is definitely one of my favorite characters along with Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong). Twilight is a very mysterious pony. She also has a lot of personality and wants everyone to be happy. Twilight is very caring and Tara voices her perfectly.

The music and sound effects help set the tone and mood of the scenes. The music amplifies feelings of sadness, suspense and sometimes celebration. The animation also helps set mood. For example, for the feeling of sadness, it might be raining. For feelings of celebration, there might be confetti. Sound effects and animation working together really make these shows stand out.

My favorite episode is "Sisterhooves Social" because it makes you appreciate having a sister or siblings. This episode is about Rarity and her younger sister's relationship. It is really touching to see all of their problems resolved in the end and how happy they are together.

The message in these episodes is to be grateful, considerate and to compromise. In "The Ticket Master", Twilight Sparkle has to be considerate to everyone's feelings. And when she does that, no one is hurt. In "Sisterhooves Social", Rarity made a compromise with her little sister. Rarity has to spend more time with her little sister to make her happy.

This DVD is a great collection of episodes to teach your kids about friendship and how to keep up relationships with people. I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages of 3 to 9. It comes out on February 13, 2018 so be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Runtime: 110 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
THOMAS EDISON'S SECRET LAB: ROCK IT TO THE MOON (2018)

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THOMAS EDISON'S SECRET LAB: ROCK IT TO THE MOON (2018)
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THOMAS EDISON'S SECRET LAB: ROCK IT TO THE MOON (2018) - N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT
Series: SERIES, AGES 5-12
Description - Join Angie and friends as they deal with everything from a remote control dance outfit to gravity to moon rocks and more! Hoping to get on a dance show, Von Bolt wears a remote-control dance outfit. But if he let's someone else dance for him, is he really a winner? Next, the Secret Lab Kids are ready to demo their new science song for web entrepreneur, Mook Zookerboom, when he learns that a satellite is coming down out of orbit, panics and heads for the airport. So the team must gather some data on gravity to convince him to return. Then, when Von Bolt accidentally destroys the museum's new moon rock, the Secret Lab Kids must find a way to replace it. Guided by fun-loving Edison, Angie and friends will show kids just how fun science can be!
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This DVD is quite appealing and engaging. The most appealing thing about this title are the characters. They are relatable, appealing and funny. The show teaches different science facts. However, it doesn't have much in terms of comedy. A bit of balance between fun and learning would be nice. For me the learning feels a bit heavy. Also, the animation is a bit choppy at times. As far as design, I really love that the characters represent different cultures and I enjoyed that some of the characters have different accents. The vocabulary is engaging and suitable for its intended audience. The science terms introduced in each story are clear and easy to understand. Lots of kids can benefit from watching this DVD and it may ignite their curiosity to further inquiry. I did feel that the pace is somewhat on the slow side. Because it is aimed at older kids, the pace could be a bit faster. The characters act in positive ways and there are definitely consequences to bad actions. For example, in the first episode when the kids build a device to help the robot character win a dance competition, they soon realize that they shouldn't do that, because that would be cheating. Then, when another robot contestant steals the device, she gets in trouble. This show has lots of problem solving and encourages critical thinking. The kids have to solve a problem using science in every story. The characters learn as the story goes and even have to research science facts to solve their problem. The show definitely supports inquiry and investigation. I can see kids wanting to dig deeper into the science exposed in each episode. The DVD was pretty straight forward and easy to navigate. The menu is simple. The special features included a number of music videos. They are cute, but I'm not sure that older kids would enjoy them all that much. I recommend it for ages 7 to 11 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. I think kids will enjoy and learn from it! Reviewed by Martha S. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Jurors.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Thomas Edison's Secret Lab: Rock It to the Moon DVD is full of episodes about a group of kid scientists who work together on adventures in Thomas Edison's secret lab. The group finds problems around their town and solves them by using scientific facts. I always enjoy these episode packs because I like science and these teach us about chemicals and discoveries I didn't know about before. After every episode, there is a song (written by Stefanie and Ron Fair) about the episode that is sung by dancing robots. The songs are very repetitive and younger kids would like that.

The four kid scientists are, Angie (Phillipa Alexander) a modern female version of Thomas Edison, JD (Adam Long), Angie's brother who thinks well under pressure, Kent (Shash Hira), who has all kinds of phobias and loves all applications of science, Nicky, a scientific genius who is secretly jealous of Angie and, of course, Thomas Edison (Livingston Taylor), a hologram of the scientist who is the kids' inspiring mentor who doesn't solve their problems for them, but instead offers advice and guidance. In the lab, they have Edison's projector which makes his hologram and a virtual reality machine which opens a portal that sends them to a different scientist from the past in each episode. The scientist teaches them something that will help them solve their current problem. These lessons teach real life facts which I like. This DVD is about a few of their problems that they solve using all they know about science.

Episodes on this DVD include, Dancing Machines, Murphy's Law of Gravity, Rock it to the Moon, Act your Stone Age, Von Drop-Out, Freaky Furry, The Monster Not Under the Bed and Nanobots Byte. My favorite is Freaky Furry, which is about Angie accidently switching brains with her dog during a test. The group must find out what happened and switch their brains back. I like this because it is the only one about the human body, which I find fascinating and also because I like dogs. My favorite character is Von Bolts, the robot lab assistant, because he is a funny, indestructible machine who is featured in all the episodes.

The message of this show is that if you work together, you can do anything. I recommend this DVD for ages 4 through 10 because it is funny and very educational but easy to understand. I rate this DVD 4 out of 5 stars because I like to learn facts and some parts are funny. This DVD/Blu-ray is available now so go check it out. This series has its own website called, edisonsecretlab.com which you should also look at because it has a lot of added features.

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

This DVD offers a entertaining set of episodes that allows everyone to have a better understanding of science.

Thomas Edison's Secret Lab: Rock it to the Moon is an animated series of science themed episodes. The show is about a group of friends who find the famous scientist Thomas Edison's secret lab. Edison has made a secret lab where he created a virtual version of himself and a robot named Van Bolt. The friends embark on fun adventures with one another while, at the same time, learning valuable scientific knowledge of the world around them.

I was happily surprised by this DVD. I expected these episodes to be very child-like and not very humorous. I was very wrong! The episodes kept me interested the entire time. The episodes are rather short, which is fantastic because it holds your attention the entire time. They are silly, but in a way that got me laughing. These episodes are definitely aimed for much younger audiences than me. I did not think I was going to appreciate the humor like a young child would. My expectations were definitely wrong. I absolutely love the jokes and funny characters. The humor gives these episodes spirit.

This DVD is perfect for anyone interested in science. What surprised me the most about it is that I didn't even know most of the science related topics included. They discuss Murphy's Law of Gravity, fossils and many more. It is very important for children shows to be both informative and entertaining and this one definitely incorporates both ideas beautifully. Each episode teaches kids that science is actually fun. Perhaps one day it can inspire the next generation of scientists.

I absolutely adore the music in this DVD. There are a total of eight episodes and, at the end of each episode there is a music video about science. The music is written and produced by Stefanie and Ron Fair. I am still humming some of the tunes. The music is very catchy and the music videos are entertaining to watch. In the music videos there are always five robots who are do something crazy. In one episode, they float around space and orbit the Earth. The five robots give the music videos a unique touch.

I recommend this DVD for ages 4 to 9 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. This DVD is available now so go check it out!

Reviewed by Talia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

This is a very educational show. Its bright, colorful characters and high-level facts make it attractive to most ages. It manages to be both informative and entertaining.

The DVD has eight episodes of the show that follow Angie, Kent, JD and Nicky as they go on adventures using science. The episodes include Dancing Machine, Murphy's law of Gravity, Rock it to the Moon, Act Your Stone Age, Von Drop-Out, Freaky Furry, The Monster Not Under the Bed and Nanobots Byte. In each episode, the Secret Lab Kids, as they're called, use their hologram projector to visit a scientist from the past. He tells them a bit about his most famous discovery, which gives them a hint to solve the major problem of the episode. I like their decision to use some lesser known scientists such as Thales, instead of just the most famous scientists like Albert Einstein. However, they could have been more diverse in who they chose. Other than the kids, there are no female scientists in the entire DVD.

My favorite episode is Von Drop-Out. Von Bolt is my favorite characters on this show. I like him because he is funny and interesting. In this episode, he feels underappreciated and quits. He gets a new job as a rescue robot and the Secret Lab Kids try to find him so they can get him to come back. I like this episode because its explanation of the science of proportion and measurement is easy to understand and is used in the most practical way that could be used by anyone in the real world.

I like how educational this series is. It teaches science, history, technology, math, vocabulary and much more. Unfortunately, this isn't the main thing children might take from these episodes. The educational values are almost over-shadowed by the wacky unexplained, convenient items the Secret Lab Kids have.

Von Bolt is voiced by Dan Russell, whose voice I really enjoy. I like how he manages to show emotion but still keep the voice robotic. The music is almost better than the show itself. After each episode there is a song. These songs teach more science than the stories, teach it faster, are equally entertaining and are amazingly well produced. They, are by far, my favorite part of this DVD and the show as a whole.

Overall I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 through 14. Younger kids might not understand the science, but they will still probably still find it entertaining. It is available on DVD now so, go check it out.

Reviewed by Rohan F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Runtime: 90 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: DVD


FRONTLINE: NORTH KOREA'S DEADLY DICTATOR
FRONTLINE: NORTH KOREA'S DEADLY DICTATOR - PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DVD, AGES 12-18
Description - Earlier this year, Kim Jong-un's half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, was ambushed in a Malaysian airport by two women bearing a lethal chemical weapon 10 times more powerful than sarin. He died en route to the hospital. Who planned the murder of Kim Jong-un's half-brother, and what does it reveal about the leader and his regime?

As nuclear tensions between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un escalate, producer Jane McMullen examines claims the North Korean leader and his intelligence services ordered the assassination on Kim Jong-nam, and sheds light on his broader intentions - and nuclear capabilities.

Drawing on interviews with a leading North Korean defector, diplomats, experts, Kim Jong-nam's school friends and even a former North Korean secret agent, the documentary is a rare glimpse inside the secretive country - and an eye-opening look at both how King Jong-un thinks, and how he's trying to ensure his regime's survival and perpetuate his own power.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This Frontline/PBS program provides an engrossing look at the rise to power of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the threat his growing nuclear weapons program presents. Framing the program is an investigation into the brazen murder of Kim Jong-un's half-brother in 2017, one of several relatives deemed a threat to the dictator's sovereignty. Clips of the recent war of words between Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump illustrate bluntly the threat their adversarial relationship represents. The one hour program is fast-paced, but not rushed and information about the assassination of Kim Jong-un's half-brother is doled out in measured reveals, allowing the story to unfold as an exciting piece of investigative journalism. Production quality is excellent throughout and the filmmakers nicely utilize surveillance video. With so much focus on the half-brother, we don't get deep into the psyche of Kim Jong-un, but this is an excellent introduction to the very topical subject matter. Recommended for ages 12 to 18, as well as adults. I give this 4 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Michael F., KIDS FIRST! Adult juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult review
Runtime: 60 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 24.99 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MIRACULOUS: TALES OF LADYBUG AND CAT NOIR: SEASON ONE

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MIRACULOUS: TALES OF LADYBUG AND CAT NOIR: SEASON ONE - SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: DVD, AGES 5-12
Description - Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir Season 1 contains episodes 1-26. Marinette and Adrien have all the challenges of normal teenagers - dealing with school, family, friends and growing up. But unlike most teenagers, Marinette and Adrien have an added responsibility - saving Paris! That's right! When Paris is threatened by the evil Hawk Moth, Marinette and Adrien magically transform into the superheroes Ladybug and Cat Noir! Together they work tirelessly to keep Paris safe from the villains created by Hawk Moth. Special Features: Laura Marano theme song music video, animatics, sing-alongs, and cast & crew interviews.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Miraculous denotes keeping the faith, which is one of the themes of this series. I like that the Superheroes are children. The teenage protagonists are very positive role models. Even when a situation is not entirely their fault, they accept responsibility for their actions. The main intent is to give the child viewer a feeling of control and normalcy in an increasingly chaotic world. Stereotyping is at a minimum, but we do have a blue-eyed, blond girl portrayed as an "entitled" snobbish girl and a boy (Adrien) as the ideal blond, blue-eyed hunk. When Marionette transforms into Ladybug she appears in a super-slick, skin tight outfit that emphasizes her buttocks and thighs. Adrien's Cat Noir outfit makes him appear super thin, as he is resembles a black panther's sleek body-type.

I highly recommend because of its overwhelmingly positive content. The story usually starts with an everyday situation involving the teenagers where one character feels a sense of injustice. Then, an adult antagonist steps in to make a deal with the teenager and the character accepts it. The teen then runs havoc and Lady Bug and Cat Noir have to confront them. Lady Bug and Cat Noir succeed. The adult antagonist, Hawk Moth promises to defeat Lady Bug and Cat Noir in the future. There is a consistent flow in the story lines in each episode that keeps the viewer engaged with some small lulls that might distract a young viewer a bit. The individual episodes make various points such as taking responsibility for one's actions. For example, in episode 4, one girl asks another to hold an heirloom watch while she competes in a roller-blade competition. It is smashed during the race when a kid drops it on the street where the race is being held. The girl is devastated and blames everyone initially. By the end of the episode, she accepts full responsibility for asking others to hold it for her.

Most of the characters are either teens or adults and treat each other in a genial fashion. The vocabulary and concepts are appropriate for the target audience. The problem solving comes in the form of Ladybug and Cat Noir. In one episode, they try to save Paris from a teenage antagonist who is under Hawk Moth's spell. The viewer would be able to grasp this concept since it is presented in a clear-cut fashion.

This animated series uses contemporary computer graphics and bright colors that stand out and entice its audience. The bonus features include the theme song music video, behind the scenes of music video, animation how-to's and cast and crew interviews.

The message of this series is about having a sense of control and normalcy in an increasingly chaotic world. This is reinforced throughout the series. Also, since the protagonist is female, it follows the movement to uplift women within the past couple of years. I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 13. Reviewed by Kimberly Mullins, KIDS FIRST! Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This show is fun, adventurous and all around awesome. Because of my age, I viewed it as a younger kid would. The episodes are full of splendid animation, great scripts, and positive messages for young kids.

Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir is a family friendly cartoon about two teenagers, Marinette and Adrien, who seem to be people that live normal lives. However, that is all just a fa�ade. Whenever evil strikes their beloved city of Paris, Marinette and Adrien transform into their alter egos: Ladybug and Cat Noir. Together, the duo does all they can to conquer the antagonist, Hawk Moth and whatever poor entity Hawk Moth decides to possess or "akuma." This television show is definitely good for younger kids to watch.

I particularly enjoy the visual aspects as well as the aesthetics of the show. I really think the animation is spectacular. It is bright, colorful and advanced. However, at certain points I noticed that the moving lips do not sync up with the words onscreen. This only occurred at certain points.

The show is definitely interesting and entertaining. Even though it's a kid's show, I it's not irritating. I had a fun time watching it and, at many points thought to myself, "If I was a kid, I would watch this show regularly." All the action scenes, although animated, are particularly fun and exciting to watch.

Even though it has lot of clich�s such as the overbearing, selfish, mean girlfriend and the shy girl who keeps pining after the boyfriend of the previously mentioned girl, the show mostly portrays women in positive ways. Ladybug/Marinette is an incredibly empowering female character and a positive role model for younger girls to look up to. She is sassy, smart and knows how to kick butt.

I recommend this DVD for ages 4 through 10 and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. It is as entertaining and exciting as it is empowering. And, it's available on DVD now, so check it out.

By Ella L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Runtime: 540 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ 16.97 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
OCTONAUTS: SEASON 1

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OCTONAUTS: SEASON 1
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OCTONAUTS: SEASON 1 - N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT
Series: DVD, AGES 5-12
Description - Dive into adventure with your favorite underwater explorers, the Octonauts! Join brave Captain Barnacles, daredevil ex-pirate, Kwazii, medic Peso Penguin and the rest of the crew, as they explore the world s oceans, rescue the creatures who live there and protect their habitats above and below the waves! Based on the richly imaginative books by Meomi, this series combines immersive visuals and submersive humor to transport young children into a world that is both real and fantastic, full of mysteries to unravel and surprises around every corner. So come aboard the Octopod for 52 exciting missions!
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The Octonauts: Season 1 definitely grows on child and adult alike. The stories teach about various underwater creatures and the importance as a team to help others. I am sure this DVD will be a favorite for children because of the great animation, excellent characters, catchy songs and brightly colored underwater locations. It will definitely keep their attention and parents will not be bored either. The episodes offer a lot of educational information about sea animals. I love how it doesn't make it seem as if the carnivorous sea animals, such as sharks, are bad creatures. It is simply what they do and it plays very well, so children don't even notice that the carnivores are different from the non carnivores. Its refreshing to have a series that does not play good against the bad and makes it more about helping each other. Our favorite part is at the end of each segment when they show videos or pictures of what the sea animals looks like. That way the children learn not just what the creature can do while watching the show, but also what they really look like. Now when we go to the aquarium, we will be able to spot these different sea creatures. The animation on this DVD is broadcast quality with a color palette that is bright enough to catch little ones' attention. My kids greatly enjoyed playing with the toys that came with this DVD. It was a nice treat for them to have and help them remember what they learned in the show by play acting with the characters. Our whole family learned something new about the ocean from each episode, especially from the creature reports. They are now looking forward to going to the aquarium to see how many sea creatures they can find! The overall message of this show is about having fun while working together as a team, especially while exploring the seas. I give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 through 8.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Octonauts have always been one of my favorite TV/DVD series. The Octonauts are selfless and brave, human-like animals and have great teamwork. Aside from the multiple wonderful messages that they teach in every episode, they also have detailed animation.

The Octonauts live in the ocean in their octopus-like structure called the Octopod. Whenever there is trouble in the ocean, the team of Octonauts does not hesitate to help anyone in need. The main characters include Captain Barnacles (the bear who leads the team), Kwazi (the pirate-like cat) and Peso (the timid penguin). At the end of the episode, there is always a Creature Report, a song giving facts about one of the creatures that they saw or helped during the mission.

Captain Barnacles (Ross Breen) sounds like a bear who has everything under control. He has a very deep, commanding and strong voice which implies that he is the boss, and he is. Peso (Paul Panting) has a very soft, sometimes shaky and uncertain voice. Peso is a happy, but conservative penguin, and you can hear that through his voice. You can also easily hear when he is scared.

The animation is detailed and shows the ocean as a beautiful place with the wide variety of colors. Another thing that I like about this series is that on the Octonauts team, there are different species of animals aboard the Octopod. They work together great as a team, even though they are all different. It shows that even though you don't have many similarities, you can still work together successfully and be friends. This is just one of the great messages taught in this series.

My favorite episode is "Undersea Storm." During this episode, a storm is heading near the reef where the Octonauts live. A strong current sweeps up a baby lobster, but Kwazi saves it and returns him to its family and they are very grateful. Later, Kwazi crashes and can't get his submarine to work. The whole family of lobsters shows up to help him out. Everyone makes it safe inside before the storm hits. This is my favorite episode because it teaches the morals of The Golden Rule. It is very clever how they present this moral.

There are multiple different messages throughout this DVD. All are really important and sometimes are overlooked. I love that The Octonauts offer entertainment to young children while teaching them good lessons.

This is an awesome DVD to watch and I give it 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for ages 3 to 11. Maybe it could even be for 12 and 13-year-olds, because I really enjoyed watching it myself. It is available now on DVD so, be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Octonauts is one of my favorite TV shows. I've been watching it my whole life, since I was a baby! This Season 1 DVD is filled with 52 episodes, which is over eleven hours of the best Octonauts adventures. In Octonauts: Season 1, everything that happens takes place underneath the ocean! That is my favorite thing about this show. It takes me on an underwater adventure every time. I get to live my dream of being aquatic!

Captain Barnacles leads his team. Tweak Bunny, Pero Penguin, Kwazii Kitten, Shellington Sea Otter and Dashi Dog all appear in Season 1. Every character is a different type of animal. They are have unique personalities and special traits that make them interesting. All of these traits make the Octonauts team a good group of characters that can handle any kind of problem that comes their way.

This is a fun series! The stories always move forward without a dull moment! Each episode keeps my attention and I am totally entertained. Nothing scary ever happens and that makes me feel relaxed and interested while I'm watching. I can watch one episode after another.

All of the episodes on this DVD have positive messages for kids about helping others or teamwork. I think kids can also learn a lot about the ocean and all of the sea creatures who live there. This is an educational show, but it doesn't feel like it. Those kinds of shows are the best! I have two favorite things about these shows. The Octopod is really cool. It is the big underwater spaceship that they travel around in and it is also the headquarters for the crew. It looks like a big mechanical octopus.

My other favorite thing about the show are the Vegimals. They are so silly and interesting. Think of putting together a vegetable and an animal and you get a Vegimal! For example, if you take a half-salmon and a half-jalepe�o, you have just made a Salape�o. The Vegimals are very cute and funny.

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 10. It's calm and colorful and it looks like little bath toys that a baby would like to play with. I think even the smallest child would be mesmerized watching these shows. This is available on DVD now, so go check it out!

Reviewed by Izzy C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

The Octonauts have always been one of my favorite TV/DVD series. The Octonauts are selfless and brave human-like animals and they have great teamwork. Aside from the multiple wonderful messages that they teach in the episodes, the episodes also have detailed animations.

The Octonauts live in the ocean in their octopus like structure called the Octopod. Whenever there is trouble in the ocean, the team of Octonauts will not hesitate to help anyone in need. The main Octonauts include Captain Barnacles (the bear who leads the team), Kwazi (the pirate-like cat) and Peso (the timid penguin). At the end of the episode, there is always a Creature Report, a song giving facts about one of the creatures that they saw/helped during the mission.

Captain Barnacles (Ross Breen) sounds like a bear who has everything under control. He has a very deep, commanding and strong voice which implies that he is the boss, and he is. Peso (Paul Panting) has a very soft, sometimes shaky and uncertain voice. Peso is a happy, but conservative penguin and you can hear that in his voice. You can also easily hear when he is scared.

The animation for these episodes is detailed and shows the ocean as a beautiful place with a wide variety of colors. Another thing that I like about this series is that, on the team of Octonauts, there are different species of animals aboard the Octopod. They work together great as a team even though they are all different. It shows that even though you don't have much similarities, you can still work together successfully and be friends. This is just one of the great messages that The Octonauts teach.

My favorite episode is "Undersea Storm". During this episode, a storm is heading near the reef the Octonauts live in. A strong current sweeps up a baby lobster, but Kwazi saves it and returns him to his family and they are very grateful. Later, Kwazi crashes and can't get his submarine to work. The whole family of lobsters shows up and helps him out. Everyone makes it safe inside before the storm hits. This is my favorite episode because it teaches the moral of the golden rule. It is very clever how they present this moral in this episode.

There are multiple different messages throughout the DVD. All of the messages are really important and sometimes are overlooked. I love that The Octonauts give entertainment to young children and teach them good lessons at the same time.

The Octonauts Season 1 is an awesome series to watch and I give it 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this film for the ages of 3 to 11. Maybe it could even be for 12 and 13 year olds, because I really enjoyed watching it myself. Be sure to check this series out on DVD and on TV now!

Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Runtime: 700 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 4-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ 14.99 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
DIGIMON ADVENTURE TRI.: CONFESSION

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DIGIMON ADVENTURE TRI.: CONFESSION - SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: DVD AGES 8-18
Description - 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!® Adult Jurors say - Beautifully executed but contains the most emotionally upsetting segments of the series. These episodes show the world of Digimon afflicted by a terrible virus that causes the Digimon to act feral. The only way to save these beloved creatures is to reboot the world. This is an emotional time for the characters because it causes the Digimon to lose all their memories which is absolutely heart breaking. You feel every memory that Digidestin and the Digimon have made together fade. I'm hoping the next installment will be a happier one. The animation is great and the voice acting is wonderful. I love being able to reconnect with characters I grew up with and watch my children form a relationship with them as well. This is great for ages 10 to 15 and I give it 5 out of 5 stars.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Digimon Adventure Tri. 3: Confession is a beautifully made anime film that touched my hearts 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 re-watch 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!

Reviewed by Talia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

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.

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.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Runtime: 105 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 13.42 Media: DVD


VERMEER, BEYOND TIME
VERMEER, BEYOND TIME - PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Vermeer, Beyond Time explores the life and work of one of the most loved, influential, and well-known artists, Johannes Vermeer. Images from his paintings have become part of our collective imagination and are instantly recognizable.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I enjoyed the juxtaposition of seeing Vermeer's paintings and scenes of modern day Holland, as well as museum goers viewing and admiring his works in the museums of Europe today.

Vermeer, Beyond Time is a documentary film portraying the interesting life and work of the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer. Today he is admired and loved for well- known paintings such as "Girl with a Pearl Earring," "The Lacemaker," "Girl by an Open Window" and others.

Narrated by well-known actor, comedian and musician Steve Martin who weaves a story of the trials and tribulations that Vermeer experienced in his short life. He died in 1672 at the age of 40, destitute and desperate.

What I found extremely interesting and was unaware of, is that after his death, twenty years later, in 1696, twenty-one of his works were sold and then disappeared for 150 years. They were discovered later, in the middle of the 19th century. Admired by masters of his time such as Rembrandt, Peter de Hooch as well as the writer Marcel Proust, he never got to see the fruits of his creative labor.

Born in 1645, Vermeer came from humble beginnings. At the age of 21, he married into wealth and his marriage changed the course of his life. He fell in love with an older woman very different from him, had 15 children and a mother-in-law who was instrumental in his career. His life was imbued with his family of women.

Yet in his paintings, there is an element of mystery as he was known for silence, solitude and thought in his approach. When one looks at his paintings, it's as if time disappears. Historians wonder why he painted so few pictures and yet for those known today, people are extremely passionate. His paintings tell stories and represent symbols of a society in Delft, which had a leading economy and was the richest city in Europe at that time. This is known as the golden age in Holland, as people were creating their own culture.

Vermeer had an intense engagement and admiration for women, and his paintings portray them in a refined manner. He painted elegant women and men of learning, and introduced musical instruments into many of his paintings.

The film explores his techniques and approach in great detail. One of his paintings created in the golden age of 1657-8, called "Little Street" is discussed as an exercise of the mind. It is suggested that perhaps the artist reinvented reality by imagining and creating a house as the central character, with a woman doing needlework, a servant girl cleaning the yard and a small boy and girl at play.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 15 to 18 as well as adults. Those who are into art and art history and who want to know more about Vermeer's technique and the time he lived in will particularly enjoy it. It is rich in detail and history of that time. This film is available now on DVD so be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Terry S., KIDS FIRST! Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 90 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 17.99 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SNOWMAN, THE & THE SNOWMAN AND THE SNOWDOG (2017)
SNOWMAN, THE & THE SNOWMAN AND THE SNOWDOG (2017) - N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT
Series: DVD AGES 2-5
Description - Relive Raymond Brigg's holiday classic, The Snowman! One crisp, winter morning, a young boy 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, at the stroke of midnight, 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. Then, embark on a new adventure in the charming sequel, The Snowman and the Snowdog! When a young boy and his mother move to 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!® Adult Jurors say - The Snowman is one of my all-time favorite pieces of animation. Directed by Dianne Jackson and produced by Jonathan Coates, this non-narrative film truly is filled with wonder. The haunting music by Howard Blake ("Walking in the Air") stays with me for days after each time I watch this film. And, I mean that in a good way. Based on the best-selling book by Raymond Briggs, this is a piece of animation that is true to the original story and one to share with your family during the holiday season.

N Circle Entertainment has done a brilliant thing in creating this two DVD pack and including the sequel to this classic film, The Snowman and Snowdog which was created to mark the 30th anniversary of the original. Another non-narrative film, this one brings in a new character in a short film that is as charming as the original. Dedicated to John Coates and featuring a new song, "Light the Night" by former Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows, this is an extremely thoughtful sequel and was made using traditional hand-drawn animation, not CGI. This collection is really a treasure! Reviewed by Sarah S., KIDS FIRST! Juror

These movies are instant classics that bring out the feeling of Christmas Spirit. The first thing you notice is the beautiful animation. The next is the story which is wholesome and great for the whole family. The Snowman is about a boy whom builds a snowman and when that snowman comes to life they embark on a lovely adventure to the North Pole. Similarly, the sequel is about a boy building a snowman and a Snowdog that both come to life. I highly recommend these two short films and recommend them for ages 2 to 9. I also believe some older children and adults will like it as well. I give these 5 out of 5 stars! Happy Holidays!

Reviewed by Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! juror.

This double feature is simply enchanting and magical! I loved the books and I love how the illustrations come to life in this film and what is even more amazing is how entertaining it is to watch even without any talking. I was simply enchanted by the film and didn't want to miss a minute of it. The music fits the film so well and I am awed by the magic of the stories. My favorite part in The Snowman is when the Snowman tries on different fruits for his nose. These films will make you smile. The sequel is even more magical than the original, if that is possible. They are definite holiday feel-good types of movies that the whole family should watch! The bonus features are interesting. I especially like the alternate introduction from David Bowie. Other bonus features include "The Story of The Snowman," "Behind the Scenes" interviews with the author, Raymond Briggs. I recommend this film for ages 4 to 18 as well as adults and I give this 5 out of 5 stars for originality, magic and entertainment value. Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - 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!

Reviewed by Eden T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Holiday movies are one of my favorite forms of entertainment. Especially those that have adorable characters and a heartwarming tale. That is what these two short films called The Snowman and The Snowman and The Snowdog are all about. Add magnificent hand drawn animation and you have the perfect Christmas movies.

I love that these two films on this double feature DVD have no words and are both beautifully illustrated with animated images. The orchestra for the original film is Sinfonia of London and for the sequel, the London Metropolitan Orchestra. Their performances are stunning. Each piece of music fits the scene perfectly because it made me feel as if I was in the scene myself. Also the music is superb to just relax to. So grab a hot cup of cocoa and put your feet up.

Both of these films are hand drawn with pastels and pencils. The only thing that is CGI (in the sequel) is the falling snow flakes and that took a lot of persuasion to get Raymond Briggs to allow that. The best part of both films are the drawings, which make them special and unique. I like having a break from all the CGI and seeing animation as it was made years ago. This is something that many other kids will appreciate as well.

My favorite movie out of the two films is the sequel, The Snowman and The Snowdog. I love this movie because there is an adorable dog made of snow and the quirky snowmen. Also in this movie there are more snowmen and snowwomen which is something that I loved seeing.

I love the adorable Snowdog. He is very funny and had me laughing and even crying for joy. He is my favorite character. I also think that he would be an amazing pet to have. This is because he is very loyal and he comes whenever you call for him.

I recommend this DVD for ages 2 to 18. These movies never get old and people from all over the world will absolutely adore them. This DVD has become one I have added to my holiday collection and will watch it every year. Even really young children can watch it because it is so beautiful and the message is all about friendship, love, cheer and what the holidays are all about. I give this DVD 5 out of 5 golden stars.

Reviewed by Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Runtime: 60 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ 9.96 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
GUMBY: GUMBY'S ARCTIC ANTICS

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GUMBY: GUMBY'S ARCTIC ANTICS - N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT
Series: DVD, AGES 5-12
Description - Gumby and Pokey, television's legendary clay characters, live one great adventure after another in a timeless world of stop motion magic and wonder. Join our favorite duo in this fun-filled collection of 50's, 60's and 80's episodes! When Santa gets sick right before Christmas, will the holiday be ruined or can the Witty Witch save the day and deliver the gifts with the help of a certain someone? Then, Scrooge escapes from his book and sets out to destroy all of the toys in Toyland, but luckily Gumby is there to save the day. From helping the Pilgrims, George Washington, and even the Moon Boggles, to rescuing a baby mastodon in the arctic, these unique shows will spark your imagination and bring a smile to your heart.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I didn't watch Gumby as a child but I was aware of the cartoon, as we called them. What struck me watching these clips is how much is based on actual history. Learning about General George Washington crossing the Delaware River, the American Revolution, watching an infamous character from the famous book "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens come to life and see how Gumby deals with each of these is interesting. Learning a little about the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving is also a good lesson. Whoever heard of Santa Claus getting sick on Christmas Eve? Having Gumby, Pokey and a good witch come to the rescue is brilliant! Learning about Alaska? Wow, that is awesome! Who has ever seen a glacier? An Eagle? A Walrus? An Igloo? A Polar Bear? These stories are entertaining and enlightening and hold a child's interest. The focus throughout the series seems is one of teamwork and the importance of working together for the common good. The cover is very colorful. It looks like the characters are having fun on the sled, which is an indication of fun things to come!

This DVD has a number of clips, each telling a different story. The characters in each clip are interesting and fun. It is designed for younger kids, but older children will learn a bit about history by watching. The vocabulary is suitable for the target audience and the claymation and colors are fun for everyone to watch. The social models I gather from this DVD is one of teamwork and its importance. There is a bit of negative behavior in "A Pigeon in a Plum Tree," but Gumby works through it. In "Northland Follies" when a box falls on an igloo, Gumby and Pokey get even with the walrus and leave the scene, because they don't want to have to re-build the igloo again. All in all, the clips are funny and kids are engaging.

Critical thinking and problem solving skills are encouraged as well as doing the right thing. Gumby and Pokey get into lots of interesting situations and many come right out of pages in a book, yet they don't change history, they just add more fun to the story.

The DVD cover design is wonderful and appeals to its target audience. Claymation is a unique form of animation that is not frequently seen. The colors are bright and cheery and the characters are quite real looking. The menu allows you to go to a specific episode. I recommend it for ages 4 to 10 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Tina B., KIDS FIRST! Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This collection of a dozen Gumby episodes promises to entertain the whole family with great humor suitable for all ages. Its spectacular soundtrack really brings the show justice.

Like many other Gumby collections, this set revolves around Gumby's adventures which vary from episode to episode, but generally have some light comedy throughout. Something that really stands out to me on this DVD is the moment where Gumby actually talks about some historical facts, bringing a bit of education to this set.

Even though this collection's branded as Arctic, there are many episodes that leave the Arctic Circle and dive into history. Some of the best include visiting the American Revolutionary War or the voyage on the Mayflower. Gumby really makes them shine by bringing humor and unique adventures to each one. The genius writers even fit in an occasional fact here and there that teaches young viewers about history without it feeling like a lecture. It just feels like one character explaining the situation to another character. However, there are minor issues with some of the plots. Generally, Gumby episodes are very short which fits the style, but many of these are too open-ended and don't have a concrete finish. Almost all Gumby episodes feel a bit unfinished and seem to do little to address the conflict that made the story exist, which leaves the viewer slightly disappointed.

The quality of the stop-motion animation keeps at a superb level, despite these episodes originally being made across three decades, some as early as the 1950s. The writers, for the most part, did well in keeping the episodes interesting. There are some noticeable repeats in jokes or ideas. For example, there are two episodes where Gumby and Pokey somehow destroy an igloo and must rebuild it for the occupants. The two stories vary slightly, but have a very similar conflict. This makes the repeat episode rather boring. Something that the writers excel at (as they always did for Gumby) is the dialogue. The conversations are always natural, smooth and very realistic, despite all the characters being made from clay. These episodes of course also feature the original soundtrack of the show, which is recognizable and really adds to the experience. The music feels light and soothing, yet entertaining and fitting for each story.

My favorite episode is Gumby Crosses the Delaware River. In this episode, Gumby and Pokey enter a book about George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River, where he surprise-attacked enemy soldiers. Pokey and Gumby help Washington by sending Pokey in as a spy. The episode is filled with a good sense of humor and does teach kids about some historical facts. It represents a perfect bundle of learning and fun.

Like all other Gumby collections, the show revolves around family. There are some jokes here and there that will make teens and adults laugh, but it's mainly geared for younger kids. I recommend this for ages 9 to 18 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. In general, the episodes are great to watch, but some could have a better or different storyline to ensure uniqueness and the originality of writing. This DVD is available in stores now so go check it out.

Reviewed by Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

I believe the DVD Gumby: Arctic Antics is a great series because of its claymation and characters. I found it brought cheer to my Christmas and made me happy.

This DVD is a collection of holiday themed episodes from the 50s, 60s and 80s about Gumby and his friend Pokey as they look into famous stories about Christmas, Thanksgiving and the fourth of July. Gumby and Pokey are an iconic duo from the 60s.

This type of animation is known as claymation. It reminds me of Christmas movies such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and other classics such as Santa is Coming to Town. They poke fun of the fact that the characters are clay by making them melt. I like how they incorporate live action with the animation. In one scene, Gumby and Pokey fall down into a pile of things and they are live action.

The characters in the show are fantastic. I love the banter between Gumby and Pokey. Gumby always tells Pokey to pay attention to the story they are watching, but he always disobeys. Instead, he helps the characters in the story.

The message of this film is to help people no matter the consequences. It spreads a message about helping friends or people in need. Pokey helps a prince who was scammed by shop owners when they gave him a plum tree with a pigeon in it. So, he tells a man with fairy dust to turn the tree and pigeon into gold. The prince is surprised of what happens and the girl he gives it to is ecstatic.

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars recommend it to ages 6 to 9. This is available on DVD now so go check it out.

Reviewed by Carla P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Runtime: 80 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ 3.99 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SUPER 4: WELCOME TO KINGSLAND!

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SUPER 4: WELCOME TO KINGSLAND! - N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT
Series: DVD, AGES 4-10
Description - Inspired by the world of Playmobil� toys, 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 Kingsland, a world of chivalry, dragons, quests, tournaments, and castles! Kingsland is ruled by the corrupt King John, who is Prince Alexander's uncle. King John ascended the throne when Alex's father and mother were lost at sea. Prince Alexander is the heir to the throne but cannot abide living under his uncle's corrupt authority. Join Prince Alexander, or Alex as he'd prefer to be called, along with his Super 4 friends as they band together to fight villains especially dragons and save their worlds from chaos.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Welcome to Kingsland is about the Super 4 and a lovely prince named Alex joining forces to take down the evil king (who just happens to be Alex's uncle) and fight many medieval monsters such as dragons to save the world! Although I enjoyed the story, I have to be honest., I really disliked the CGI animation. While I understand that this is a Playmobil property and they do things very similar to LEGO. I just really feel like their animation doesn't work well here. By the end of this program, it felt as if it was a long commercial for the Kingsland Playset and less an actual story. My son enjoyed it though and I believe that the younger aged kids will like it. I just wish there was more to learn from this program and less to buy. It is very comical and definitely tries to teach children to problem solve, but falls a bit short of the mark for my liking. I recommend it for ages 5 to 9 and give it 3 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love this DVD with its seven, fun-filled episodes with wonderful story lines, exciting characters and fun animation. The animation is similar to what LEGO movies use, but it Is different and transports you to a new place.

The stories usually start off at King's castle and the characters leaving on an adventure. The PLAYMOBIL characters are young, quirky and still trying to figure out their abilities. They all have clothing that matches their various characters which adds to making them look realistic. The Super 4 leader is a prince who is the brave knight, Alex (Damien Ferrette). A rambunctious and quirky pirate, Ruby (Laetitia Lefebvre) has their backs at all times although she is a bit of a thief. A shy and adorable fairy, Twinkle (Sarah Natochenny) is still learning how to use her magic wand. An intelligent and boastful scientist, Gene (Franck Lorrain) stands out from the others because he is a scientist from the future. Also, there is a silly girly girl, Leonora Princess (Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld) who loves her brother but can be a bit of a burden at times. She is very kind and clever and tries to help the Super 4 save the day and the kingdom.

This is set in medieval times, a period I always take joy in watching with its knights, dragons, castles and, of course, a catapult. The background and castles put you the mood to grab your sword and defend the castles. Gene makes this a unique story line. His futuristic vehicle with computers, wheels and an engine sure beats walking or riding horseback. He always tells the viewers facts and science knowledge to help them solve the problems.

The voice talent are perfectly matched for their characters. The fairy is a bit high pitched perhaps but, one thing I like is that you can always tell who is talking because their voices are re all so distinct. The episode "Princely Wedding" is humorous because the Princess is put under a love spell and falls in love with the Black Knight and Super 4 must figure out what is going on. She wants nothing to do with them because she is madly in love and will not listen to anyone, but her "love" is a sworn enemy of the kingdom. She is a girly girl, so this episode is totally out of character for her. I smiled from ear to ear in the "Baby Dragon" episode when Gene, the mature scientist, is singing a lullaby and is attached to the baby.

The lesson learned here is that we all need each other to conquer problems. You should never give up as there are always different ways to look at things. When you do, you can find a solution. I recommend this to kids age 5 to 12. The episodes are short enough to keep young ones' attention and the unique animation, story lines and science information will entertain older kids. I give this 5 out of 5 super PLAYMOBIL stars. You can find this DVD wherever DVDs are sold.

Reviewed by Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Super4 is a decent Playmobil series that is more suitable for younger kids. The voice acting kept me in interested, but, the childish jokes were definitely not suited for my age group. Also, the CGI is not as sophisticated. Despite these flaws, it is very watchable by a younger audience.

The story line follows the adventures of four characters who go on adventures in Kingsland. The four characters include Prince Alexander (Damien Ferrette), Twinkle the fairy (Sarah Natochenny), Ruby the pirate (Laetitia Lefebvre) and Gene the scientist (Franck Lorrain). The team face certain challenges such as opposing kingdoms and dragons in six different episodes.

Damien Ferrette delivers a decent performance as Prince Alexander and expresses the character's adventurous side quite well. Sarah Natochenny plays a fun Twinkle the fairy, showing the magical side of the character well. Ruby the Pirate (Laetitia Lefebvre) presents a very believable pirate that likes to steal. Gene the Scientist (Franck Lorrain) is the most interesting character due to his intelligence and wittiness.

The movie's CGI is not as sophisticated as most of today's animated TV shows, which bothered me a little. Most movies today, such as the Pixar movies have realistic animations of the characters. The animation here seems choppy and the characters are not very detailed. Despite this, I appreciate the effort of the animation team because their efforts display the characters well. My favorite part would be the scenes involving the dragons. I think that the dragons are a great, fantastical element.

This movie has a good message about people working as a team and that, as a team, they can solve any problem. The team is faced with various dangers and they work together to overcome these dangers. This show would appeal more to anyone interested in Playmobil line of toys. I give this show 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8 years old. This series is available on DVD so, go check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

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 didn't really enjoy this DVD. It is very repetitive. The characters that aren't Super 4 members do the same thing in every episode. For example, the knights just worship the king and don't fight. 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. I don't like that the series repeats the same plot multiple times, but younger kids who like repetition and play with Playmobil might love this. For that reason, this series isn't really my taste. I rate this DVD 2 out of 5 stars for its ability to look like Playmobil. I recommend this DVD for ages 2 through 6 because it has a lot of repetition of plots and characters and little kids love that. This DVD/Blu-ray is available now so go check it out.

Reviewed by Damon Foxe, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Runtime: 85 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ 9.99 Media: DVD


REGAL ACADEMY: ROSE CINDERELLA IN FAIRY TALE LAND
REGAL ACADEMY: ROSE CINDERELLA IN FAIRY TALE LAND - 0
Series: DVD, AGES 5-12
Description - Rose Cinderella thinks she is a regular teenager, but things change when she finds a magic key unlocking a world where fairy tales come to life! Rose Cinderella quite literally falls into Fairy Tale Land and discovers that Cinderella is not only her grandmother but also the headmistress of Regal Academy, a school where fairytale families teach the next generation how to become heroes. Episodes included are: A School for Fairy Tales, The Great Dragon Race and The Swan in Swamp Lake.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - What's most appealing about this DVD is that it's an animated series starring Cinderella's granddaughter. I like this series because it separates fact from fiction. For instance, the viewers see Regal Academy as an enchanting and magical world filled with mythical creatures, while earth is simply earth. Furthermore, I like that Rose has a magical ability, which is called pumpkin magic. With her wand, Rose turns pumpkins into cars and objects. Rose is a likable character that will be relatable to children between the ages of 5 to 12. She's clumsy, a bit nosy, loud, outspoken, and has a positive outlook on life. This series has great visuals and includes vocabulary and concepts that are suitable for this age group. In fact, each episode flows well, the sound is clear, and has a beginning, middle and end. I highly recommend this series and give it 4 out of 5 stars.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 72 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ 12.99 Media: DVD



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