Archive for August, 2015

ABC Monsters: Starring ABCD – Fun and Creative Way Supporting Early Language Skill Building

Friday, August 21st, 2015

This DABCMeetMonsters.2D.jpgVD from N Circle Entertainment, a leader in children’s entertainment is a compilation of four episodes of this charming TV show for preschoolers. Produced by the French production company La Pompadour, it pairs letters of the alphabet with a corresponding, and not too scary, movie monster.

These four stories follow a crew of big, hairy and not too scary “Monsters.”  Twenty six cuddly ABC Monsters live within the walls of Capital Castle, each representing a letter of the alphabet. Should any of the monsters go missing for longer than a day, all the letters will be wiped clean from every book in Capital Town, so it’s very important to make sure that all the ABC Monsters are safely back in Alphabet Gardens before the sun goes down. This isn’t as easy as it sounds as the ABC Monsters are always curious and happy creatures so they tend to wander off from Alphabet Gardens and get lost in the process.

KIDS FIRST! Reviewer, child development specialist Eli B comments, “What a great DVD! This titleEli2.jpg offers singing, dancing, puzzles and lots of character/viewer interactions throughout the DVD. This did supports inquiry and problem solving. The viewer is prompted to participate in phonic skills and word building via puzzles, games and songs. The animation is clear and colorful and fun to watch. This title is all about learning the alphabet. Each episode is centered around a specific letter. Within that episode, there are fill in the blank word games, songs and repetition of phonics. Any child learning the alphabet would enjoy this DVD. This title is visually very appealing! The animation is great and the songs are original and fun. The DVD cover and box are colorful and have a raised image that makes it stand out.

ABC Monsters: Starring ABCD
Reviewed by KIDS FIRST! youth reviewers, ages 4 and 6

The kids really loved it. They sat there forever and were completely entertained. “ABC Monsters is about some kids who try to find Monster letters like one that looks like a G. They find all the letters so that they don’t disappear. The monsters do things that start with their letter, like practicing arrows for A and looking for a bell for B. They sing songs when it’s the end, and they ask questions. Actually the kids ask the questions in it. The monsters were nice. Kids would learn the ABC song and a little bit of reading and spelling from watching this. The monsters were funny, and I think kids will like that.” “We liked that they were trying to find stuff. It was like a mystery treasure hunt. It was exciting, and we liked all the colors. The people in it were nice, and we thought the dancing and singing was fun! We really, really liked it!

ABC MONSTERS: Starring ABCD

Haley_2015.3.jpgReviewed by Haley P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

ABC Monsters helps young children learn the difference between all the letters in the alphabet through a fun adventure similar to Dora the Explorer. It captures their small attention span in an exciting way that children can easily relate to. There are four fun episodes on this DVD for kids to learn from.

This DVD stars letters A, B, C and D with 20-minute episodes about each one of these letters. The ABC Monsters live in Capital Castle along with King Wordy, Queen Scribble, their daughter Alice and friend Brian.  There is also Cherry Berry who looks like a fairy that assists in finding the letters when they go missing.  The hairy ABC Monsters spend all their time happily in Alphabet Garden except when one goes missing.  During the adventures of trying to find the missing Monster, kids learn different words that begin with the letter of the episode.  There is also an ABC book that gives clues to the direction of the missing ABC Monster.  While looking for the missing Monster, the child will also have to fill in the blanks for the clues as a part of the adventure.

My favorite part is when Cherry Berry lines up all the ABC Monsters to see who is missing by singing the Alphabet song.  It reminds me of how much fun I used to have singing that song in preschool.  The name “Queen Scribble” made me laugh so she is my favorite character.  The graphics are extremely colorful which will captures the attention of a child and in each adventure kids learn new words along the way.

This DVD is made specifically for preschoolers and helps with the learning process of the alphabet. Even younger toddlers can benefit from this learning tool. It is a great fit for ages 1 through 5 and both boys and girls will enjoy it bNCircle.jpgecause its fun to watch and they can sing along too. I rate this DVD a four out of five “dazzling” stars! ABC Monsters: Starring ABCD is in stores now.

N Circle’s Creed: We believe in the importance of preparing your child for school. Early learning skills empower children for future success. N Circle offers DVDs that engage your child with entertainment while teaching reading readiness, science concepts, problem solving tactics, social skills and environmental awareness. N Circle Entertainment’s award-winning children’s programs offer Entertainment That Educates!

KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions interviews Mary Flynn, CEO, N Circle Entertainment about ABC Monsters. http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/87223/the-7th-dwarf-z-for-zacharia-shaun-the-sheep-mission-impossible-rogue-nation-mary-flynn-from-n

Crayola DJ – Neat and Fun to Play With, Especially if You’re Into Mixing

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

CrayolaDJ_214231.jpgThis app allows you to create the perfect music and play with tracks in different genres, including dance, pop, and hip hop. Layer your loops and add fun sound effects, then take your beats to the dance party. Your color-coded music creates an exciting color and light show. Perform for an audience and earn points for mixing and scratching your music! You can then save your music and share with friends and family! Carissa P., KIDS FIRST! juror, age 16 comments, “Crayola DJ is another one of those easy, fun games that lets children create their own music in the palm of their smart phone device.” Mia A, age 11 adds, “The Crayola DJ app is very fun, especially if you love music and creating music.” Kamren W. wraps it up, “Crayola DJ is fun for all ages. I recommend downloading this app especially for kids who have an interest in mixing.” See their full reviews below.

Kamren2.jpgThe Crayola DJ
Reviewed by Kamren W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 8

The app Crayola DJ is neat and fun to play with. This is a kid’s app where you can learn basic beats. There are so many combinations of music beats that you can make. The music areas covered are pop, hip-hop, dance, fusion and holiday. I thought the holiday beats would be weird to use, but it sounds real interesting. There are some loop buttons that you can add to the sound. Crayola DJ is about complete creativity. The Crayola DJ app does not disappoint. I downloaded this app under Google Play. The screen for this looks very simple. There is a voice tutorial which walks you through the app. I like that is has two turntables that you can actually spin backwards or frontwards. There is also a tempo slide and turntable slide. Crayola DJ has a one and two-player game. This game is based on creating and mixing up beats to earn the most points. It is interesting to play, but I didn’t like that the screen was completely different from the main one. It has a voice tutorial also. I read online that you can add your own music. I have not seen anywhere on this app that shows where to do this. That would really bring this app straight to the top. Crayola DJ is fun for all ages. I recommend downloading this app especially for kids who have an interest in mixing. I give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 8 to 18.

Carissa_1.jpgCrayola DJ
Reviewed by Carissa P. KIDS FIRST! juror, age 16

Young kids gain enjoyment from the simplest of games, whether it be tag or crab racing. Crayola DJ is another one of those easy, fun games that lets children create their own music in the palm of their smart phone device. Perhaps the most enjoyable part is listening to the music change genres so quickly from funk to pop to hip hop just from pressing the devices on the game.

Crayola DJ opens up and the player is immediately faced with two turntables. The player is helped by a woman’s voice giving basic instructions on how to create music. There are buttons that provide different rhythms, basses, melodies and sound effects to create the player’s desired tune. These beats all come from different genres such as dance and holiday. This sort of “practice mode” provides a chance to creatively experiment with balance of the music, tempo and more. There is a two player mode where two kids can compete with one another and show off their mixing skills and also a performance mode where the player gets to feel like he or she is performing for a show.

Available on both Android and iOS, Crayola DJ is a very inventive game that many will enjoy. One aspect of the game that I really enjoyed was the interactive aspect. Lots of games out there that kids play are very singularly noted and simply require button pressing or aiming at a target. This game is much more intricate than that and provides children an opportunity to actually learn while playing on a device.

One criticism I have of the game is the lack of clarity. Yes, it is good to have kids learn for themselves and creatively experiment with a game. However, I had trouble understanding how exactly to make music and how to get from the “practice” area to the “performance” area. The woman’s voice who helps guide you through the game is pleasant enough, but she lacks information on how to make the game really easy to comprehend in the beginning.

All in all, I would give the game a 3 out of 5 stars due to the confusion and lack of clarity in instructions. Still, it is a very enjoyable game and I recommend it for kids ages 4 to 8. This is a creative new game for kids to learn more about music and, most of all, enjoy themselves.Mia3.jpg

Crayola DJ
Reviewed by Mia A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

The Crayola DJ app is very fun, especially if you love music and creating music.  This app helps you to make a song then spin your track at a party like a real DJ.  The app is easy to learn, do and is fun to create with your friends. There is not a super wide selection of music beats to make your song but you can make a lot of tunes. I enjoyed the bright visuals, easy to follow instructions, the creativity of the app and the idea of being able to be a DJ on your tablet. I recommend this app for 6- to 12-year-olds because it’s fun to create songs and it is a blast to listen to what you create. I’d rate this app 4 out of 5 stars.  Crayola DJ is for kids to have fun and be creative.

Z for Zachariah – A very thought provoking story with an unexpected ending

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

ZforZachariah.jpgThis sci-fi thriller tells a story about two men and a young woman who find themselves in an emotionally charged love triangle as the last known survivors after an apocalyptic disaster that wipes out most of civilization. Starring Chris Pine, Margot Robbie and Chiwetel Ejiofor, it is a film that is beautifully shot and scored and focuses on the interactions between these survivors. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “Some films make you cry, some films make you laugh and some films just amaze you. Well, this one will make you think and digest information that you will see.” See his full review below.  

Z for Zachariah

Reviewed by Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Some films make you cry, some films make you laugh and some films just amaze you. Well, this one will make you think and digest information that you will see. Z for Zachariah may not be the most romantic film nor may it be an adventure, but hours after watching it, I was still thinking about what this film represents.The story is set in a Valley. However, it is a post-apocalyptic time. The area outside of the Valley is completely covered in radiation, but somehow the valley is clean. At the moment, only one girl lives there. However, two more men join her at her farm, and soon friendship takes an unexpected turn. If you would like to find out what happens, you have to see the film.

I honestly think the film is good, but the real impact starts after it ends. Let me explain. The film’s story makes it feel like it is building up to something big. But the actual “boom” comes to you after the film as you start to think a lot about the story and the characters, which is very unique and I think, genius. The acting and directing is interesting. It feels like the actors truly live through their characters. However I think the ending is a bit abrupt. If there was an epilogue or something like that, it would have felt more complete – even if it was only symbolic.

My favorite scene is when one of the men arrives and he already is rather friendly with the main female character. They just accomplished something big and they decide to have a bit of fun. The girl dresses up the dog and it is one of the few funny scenes. I like how it shows people that even after the worst possible things, we can still have fun and laugh.Honestly this film is rather mature and it’s a drama. So, I recommend it for ages 12 to18. Kids this age could appreciate the story and the concept of this thought-provoking film better than younger ages. I give this film four out of five stars because, although the film has wonderful acting and directing, I think the story was a bit incomplete and some scenes were stretched out which made it a bit boring. This film is in theaters on August 28 so, if you’re a sci-fi fan, put it on your list.

The Seventh Dwarf 
By Michelle C., KIDS FIRST! Critic, age 16

I watched this movie along with my little sister and she loved it! It’s a pretty basic story but the film makes it interesting and funny.

The Seventh Dwarf is a family film adventure in which cute little dwarves Bobo, Tschakko, Cloudy, Sunny, Cookie, Speedy and Ralfie embark on a journey to save the beautiful and fabulous Snow White. It’s the night before Princess Rose’s 18th birthday and everyone in the kingdom went to the Fantabularasa Castle to celebrate including Snow White, the Seven Dwarves, Cinderella and Red Riding Hood.

Everything is going swell until, just before the clock strikes midnight, Bobo, the youngest dwarf, accidentally pricks Princess Rose’s (a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty)  finger with a cursed needle and sends the entire kingdom into a slumber that is a century long. Yikes! The dwarves fall into a huge complication where they must find Rose’s true love, Jack, to save her with a kiss! In this tricky and insane journey, they face a fierce and blazing dragon and even defeat the evil, ugly witch, Dellamorta.

In this tale, they combine all of our favorite kid fairy tales into one and do great job at it!  The only cons are the songs that they sing. You’ll find it nearly impossible to get them out of your head afterwards! Pretty tedious if you ask me. What makes The Seventh Dwarf so enjoyable is the quality of it all. All of the colorful characters bring fascinating adventure and writing that directs both children and parents effortlessly.

The Seventh Dwarf is rated PG for its thematic elements and some suggestive material. I rate this film four out of five stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12.

The Seventh Dwarf
By Brooke S. , KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 9

The Seventh Dwarf is an outstanding movie. It is full of comedy, adventure, music and dancing. The actors have great comedic timing and they amazed me with their singing performances.  I have to commend the directors for bringing these characters to life.

The Seventh Dwarf is an animated film directed by Boris Alijinovic and Harald Siepermann.  I really enjoyed the movie. It is hysterical.  The movie is about Princess Rose (Peyton List), who has an 18th birthday celebration and accidentally pricks her finger on a needle that is held by Bobo and cursed by the evil queen, Dellamorta.  The needle puts her immediately into a deep sleep.  After Princess Rose falls asleep, Bobo then accidentally puts the rest of the castle into a slumber.  The only way to get Princess Rose to awaken is by a “true love’s kiss”.

The film takes place at a castle.  There is a party thrown for Princess Rose and all of her fairytale friends attend: Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, The Wolf, Cinderella, The Seven Dwarfs and others.  The main characters are the Seven Dwarfs but, they have different names than we are used to.  There is Cookie, Sunny, Cloudy, Ralphy, Speedy, Tschakko and Bobo.  Bobo is the clumsy one of the group.  Every time his shoelaces come undone, something bad happens.  Even though the evil witch, Dellamorta and her dragon, Burner are not invited to the celebration, she makes a grand appearance anyway. The dwarfs are taken on an adventure when they set out to find Jack who is the only one who can wake up princess Rose with a “true love’s kiss”.  The dwarfs get into so many sticky situations along their journey to find Jack.  Finally, they find Jack and they hurry back to see if the “true love’s kiss” will save Princess Rose. You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

My favorite part of this movie is when the dragon, Burner shows Bobo one of his favorite things he likes to do.  He asks Bobo to promise not to laugh.  After he shows Bobo his secret, their new friendship takes a bad turn.  Soon afterwards, Bobo and the Dwarfs make Burner feel better and they end up being best friends.  My favorite character is Bobo because he is always happy and is hilarious.

The message of the film is: As long as you have friends by your side, you can accomplish anything.
I rate this movie four out of five stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 18 as well as adults.

Shaun the Sheep – Just What We Need To Make Us Laugh Intelligently

Saturday, August 15th, 2015

ShauntheSheep.jpgAardman Animation is known for its thought-provoking animated films such as Wallace & Gromit, Creature Comforts, Chicken Run and Flushed Away. It is a British animation studio located in Bristol, England. Their latest installment, Shaun the Sheep, does not disappoint. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Willie J., age 16 comments, “But, the backbone of any and every Aardman film, including this one, is the screenplay. Shaun the Sheep has a wonderful screenplay – full of wit, cleverness and humor.” Tre’ana H., age 11 adds, “This film is dazzling, amusing and comical.” See their full reviews below.

Shaun the Sheep Movie
By Willie J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Being a fan of Aardman, I was very excited to see this movie. And I was not disappointed. Shaun the Sheep is a charming, funny, and entertaining movie that continues the tradition of good movies by Aardman.

The animation is beautiful. Claymation is my favorite type of animation because of how off-beat it makes everything look, so I’m already partially biased on the cinematography. That is a huge reason I love Aardman.

But, the backbone of any and every Aardman film, including this one, is the screenplay. Shaun the Sheep has a wonderful screenplay – full of wit, cleverness and humor. I can’t tell you how hard I laughed at the Silence of the Lambs’ reference (the only one in my theater who did laugh at it). There is a restaurant named “Moon,” and, in the film, a cow jumps over it…get it? It’s the little things like that make this film so great. Without dialogue, this movie is still more intelligent than many. That isn’t to say it’s a silent film, but it doesn’t have any talking. It doesn’t need it. The saying, “A picture is worth 1000 words” applies to motion pictures as well. The way the movie uses images to convey messages or to tell jokes and to advance the story is impressive and entertaining. It makes us feel smart, that we’re able to put the pieces together and not have to be told everything. I’d even say it’s refreshing.

I wish I could say more about the movie, but it’s excellence was so expected and it’s formula is so familiar, that I can’t elaborate too much. It’s vintage Aardman, basically. Fortunately, that is a fantastic thing. So I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. It can be seen at a local theater near you.

Shaun the Sheep Movie
By Tre’ana H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

This film is dazzling, amusing and comical.  Shaun (Justin Fletcher), the antagonist is tired of the farmer’s (John Sparkes) everyday routine. He wants a day off, a change. So he causes chaos on the farm. He convinces the duck to trick the dog by stringing him a bone to distract him from watching the sheep.  A mix-up with the Farmer, a caravan and a very steep hill lead them all to the Big City. That’s when it all begins. This spectacular film is loaded with visual delights for the young and old.

Directors Mark Burton and Richard Starzak bring these animals alive as people and give them so much personality. The sheep don’t talk but through imagination, expressive grunts and hand movements and looking at the story through the sheep’s eyes, you can figure this unique movie out.  The music makes it extra groovy. The storyline is what you perceive it to be. The sheep costumes are stylish and appealing. Their dark faces and mouths on the side of their faces add to the visual humor of the movie. The movie is tricky because you would never think animals would be this clever.  It makes you curious as to what might happen next.  I can’t wait to get my dog, so I can see if he will be this smart.

My favorite part is when the sheep goes into the clothing store running from Animal Control.  The sheep buys and puts on the new clothes in the store disguising themselves as Animal Control employees. They get dressed up and come out of the store looking and walking like normal people. It is so funny!

The message of this film is to treat animals fairly just like you want to be treated and consider them smart.

I recommend this film for ages 8 to 18 and I give it 4 out of 5 Stars because it is a family-oriented funny movie.