KIDS FIRST! Mid June 2010 News

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief – A KIDS FIRST! DVD Review

Celebrate Father’s Day in Santa Fe, New Mexico by watching “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” at Warehouse 21 at 1 p.m.This is one of many exciting activities. Read more about the Father’s Day Fiesta on the Reel Fathers website.

“Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” is a film our family of KIDS FIRST! jurors unanimously voted to keep in our own personal DVD library. It was too good to watch just one time. The ancient gods meet the modern world as Zeus accuses a young demi-god of stealing his lightning bolt. Never knowing he was part god, Poseidon’s son, Percy, is suddenly thrust into another world where he has exceptional powers, and must enter the depths of Hades to prevent a war among the gods. This film was particularly appealing because it clues a viewer in to the inner workings of Greek mythology, yet ties the mythology into the modern world.

Not only is the story and imagery captivating, but it also promotes a strong sense of family bonds in a very realistic way. Percy feels like his father abandoned him, and we see the relationship develop between father and son as the plot-line develops and Percy discovers that his father never abandoned him. Although gods couldn’t be with their children after birth, the father was always in Percy’s mind, helping him when he needed help. There is a poignant scene near the end where father and son come face-to-face and have a realistic confrontation.

The cinematography is so crisp, smooth and detailed that some of the evil characters were almost too scary for young viewers. Hades, in his god-form, is particularly scary, and the snakes that surrounded Medusa’s head seem incredibly lifelike. While this might make the film inappropriate for younger viewers, these aspects are part of what made the film such a success with the teen and tween audience.

The adventurous story shows how a common, somewhat dorky boy, can find something special within himself. It took his dyslexic and ADHD tendencies, and turned them into powerful weapons against the enemy. It’s a good message for viewers, seeing how things that can be perceived as negative attributes can be really be used as strengths. Viewers who watch this film might become inspired to learn more about Greek mythology.

KIDS FIRST! Child Jurors who watched it were recalling stories they knew from childhood even as the credits rolled. They began discussing what it would be like, and how they would act, if they were the young heroes in the film. A 17-year-old girl viewing the film was excited about the reminder of the stories she loved in her youth. The 10- and 13-year-old boys loved the sword fighting and special effects.

A 16-year-old boy summed it up: The visuals were stunning, and the music was fit for the story. I loved the models and animation with the monsters like the Hydra. It actually looked realistic. The only thing I didn’t like about this movie is that the story was extremely predictable (a point the younger children disagreed with). I was able to call out what was going to happen dozens of minutes before it happened, such as needing the 4th pearl to bring his mother and his friends back (the other kids did notice this, also, but it added to the drama for them and made them feel smart). I was also able to predict who would stay in Hades. This movie is great for a wide spectrum of age groups; probably between 7-16. Adults would like it, too.  Overall I think this movie was pretty good. I’d give it an  8/10.

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Raven Tales Comes to the Smithsonian Channel in July

If you’re ready for a good story, then turn on your television in July of 2010 to catch the KIDS FIRST! Palmer Vision Award-winning title, “Raven Tales,” on The Smithsonian Channel. The animated series,  geared for 5 to 12-year-olds, is drawn from Native American folklore. Chris Keintz, co-author and executive producer of the series is a master of the art of narrative, the technique to telling stories.

The series tells the tales of Raven, the mythical legend supposedly responsible for the creation of the world. The stories highlight the wild and funny adventures of Raven, the most powerful, and one might add, trickiest troublemaker of First Nations Folklore. He is joined by his steadfast brother, Eagle, and the mysterious Frog. The trickster myths of the Northwest Coast form the backbone to “Raven Tales,” the first animated film to be done by an all Canadian aboriginal team.

Chris Kientz (Cherokee) is an American/Canadian animator, television producer and director. His goal of keeping the tales authentic has opened the door to a resurgence of interest in Native American legends. The characters in “Raven Tales” look like those found in Northwest Coast wood carvings, and the stories echo from antiquity. The music is hauntingly beautiful.

Keintz’s work has appeared at the Smithsonian Institution as well as animation festivals worldwide. Currently he continues this work on behalf of the Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University where he is the Director of Technology Innovation. He currently serves on the New Mexico Governor’s Council on Film and Media Industries to advise on digital media and tax incentives for media production and post production. He is also a consultant on animation for the Creative Media Institute at New Mexico State University. In addition he is a senior consultant for National Geographic Media Arts.

Look for “Raven Tales” on The Smithsonian Channel in July, and check out the “Raven Tales” website for more details on the series.

Are You a Winner? These DVDs Want to be Yours

Enter our June sweepstakes for a chance to win a free copy of one of the following fantastic KIDS FIRST! titles: Barney or Thomas On-The-Go-Pack, Jim Henson’s Dog City: The Movie, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, The Hidden Treasures of Wompkee World Plus a Wompkee Finger Puppet and Jackie Chan’s The Spy Next Door.

Congratulations to our May winners: Chris, Melissa, Sheila, Christina, Gilda, Shana, Cindy, Leslie, Michelle, Nancy, MaryGrace, Charice, Peter, Cathy, Marilyn, Denise, Eddy, Elizabeth, Erica, Christina, Dania, Bonnie, James , Valerie and Pat.

Granny Ranny’s Coming Attractions

Toy Story 3 – Funny, Clever and Full of Adventure
After 11 years, the wait is finally over for fans of Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story franchise with the release of Toy Story 3.  It… – Read More!

PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest
A panel of America’s foremost children’s authors, illustrators and content experts will serve as final judges in the PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest, a national-local contest designed to promote the advancement of children’s reading skills through hands-on, active learning … Read More!

Ann’s Marketing Memes

From WorldKids in Mumbai, Three Films to Captivate You
From our wonderful film partners at WorldKids in Mumbai, India come three extraordinary tales of everyday life. I am captivated by the … – Read More!

Lauren’s Critics’ Corner

3 Reasons to Become a KIDS FIRST! Juror Now
1. The training is still FREE
2. Summer’s coming and you’ll need some indoor air-conditioned activities
3. You can provide a fun summer … – Read More!


The Coalition for Quality Children’s Media is a national, nonprofit organization founded in 1991 whose mission is to teach children critical viewing skills and to increase the visibility and availability of quality children’s media. The Coalition is a voluntary collaboration comprising more than 10,000 media professionals, lobbyists, policymakers, child advocates, educators, parents and families nationwide. More.

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