Archive for the 'Family News' Category

KIDS FIRST! 2016 Holiday Gift Guide – DVDs

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

holiday_gift_guide_top_of_post_2.jpg Holiday shopping doesn’t have to be stressful. That’s why, KIDS FIRST! has created our annual Holiday Gift Guide featuring DVDs, games and music for your loved ones. We know you look for that perfect gift for your niece, nephew, sister-in-law and of course, your own kids and family members and, we’ve got your back! You most likely know what those closest to you want and need, but for those who you don’t see as often it’s more of a challenge. Check out our recommendations of DVDs, music and games to help you find the perfect Holiday gift. Many of these have been reviewed by our in-house team of youth KIDS FIRST! Film Critics and, if so, you will find their video review right next to the item. Of course, you can find many more reviews at and, if you order anything from Amazon, please use our Amazon Smile account so a part of your purchase helps to support the ongoing work of KIDS FIRST. Happy Holidays from all of us at KIDS FIRST! to all of you. Please feel free to share this with your peeps.

Click here for our 2016 KIDS FIRST! Holiday Gift Guide:

Mech X4: Fun-filled adventure show with an amazing cast, great graphics and a fascinating storyline

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

mechX4.jpgMech-X4 is an American comedy television series created by Steve Marmel. The series stars Nathaniel James Potvin, Kamran Lucas, Pearce Joza and Raymond Cham. The series is scheduled to premiere on November 12, 2016, on Disney XD. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “I … was pleasantly surprised because this is not your typical Disney TV show. It made me feel like I was watching a movie with its wonderful storyline, graphics and acting. In this incredible show, there is an amazing cast, graphics and an awesome story line – all of which are quite believable.” See her full review below.

By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Amazing! I got a sneak peek of the first episode of Mech-X4 and was pleasantly surprised because this is not your typical Disney TV show. It made me feel like I was watching a movie with its wonderful storyline, graphics and acting. In this incredible show, there is an amazing cast, graphics and an awesome storyline – all of which are quite believable. This fun-filled adventure show airs on Disney and Disney XD Saturday, November 12 so be sure to check it out.

This show stars Ryan Walker (Nathaniel James Potvin). With his dreamy eyes, he is a typical teenage boy who finds outmechx4.a.jpg that he is a technopath.  While chit chatting with Nathaniel, I discovered that he loves his super power which is being the master of all technology.  His personality matches his character perfectly as he is fun and easy to talk to. His new-found superpower awakens a 150 foot robot called Mech-X4 and its job is to protect the city from crazy monsters.

Ryan Walker then recruits his friends to help. Harris (Kamran Lucas) is the brains of the group. In real life, he has been doing Martial arts since he was 5 years old and he does most of his own stunts. Harris is cautious and protective of his friends and the new-found robot.  Harris is a geek who wants to make sure that everyone has their facts straight before they jump into things. He is amazing at martial arts and play his character quite believingly.

Spyder (Pearce Joza) is adventurous and ready for anything. I also met him and found his easy going nature quite mechx4.b.jpgenjoyable. In real life, he loves snowboarding. He provides the comedic relief for the group and is extremely funny. He loves all the gadgets for the robot and, since this is all new for them, sometimes things don’t work out as planned.

Ryan also recruits his brother Mark (Raymond Cham) to help. He is not a mechanic in real life, like his character and the two of them are exact opposites. Mark’s main job is to be the mechanic and fix everything. Mark is usually the leader in his family so he has to get used to the fact that he needs to let his brother shine and he has to stand back a bit. Raymond loves the idea of mixing two animals together to get cool and creative monsters for the show. He wishes he had the super power to see free movies at the box office. Skateboarding is his thing.

I was lucky enough to be able to meet all these fantastic actors and visit with them about their roles in this show. They are all so grateful to be a part of this magnificent show. The one thing that is missing is girl power. Disney already gave the green on Season 2 before Season 1 even airs. WOW ! And, the guys told me to keep a look out for girl power coming soon.Morgan.SM.jpg

The graphics of this show are spectacular. I love the way the robot and monsters all seem so realistic. It feels like you really are there and as if you are going on this adventure with Ryan and his friends while protecting the world. I love all the amazing places they shot in Canada, the wonderful acting and the insight into each character.

My favorite scene in this episode is when Ryan, Spyder, Mark and Harris are fighting a gigantic snake/octopus monster with the robot. It is filled with action, adventure and a little comedy. Plus the graphics are incredible and realistic.

I recommend this series for ages 8 to 18 because the action and comedy. I also think adults will enjoy it, especially the story line and the characters. According to Steve Marmel and Anupam Nigam, Executive Producers of the show, their target audience is a wide range. They want parents to enjoy watching this TV show with their kids. Be sure to check out my amazing interviews and learn more about the cast on our YouTube Channel. I give this TV show 5 out of 5 gigantic robot stars.

The 18th Annual Animation Show of Shows Offers Family Friendly Matinees

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

animationshow.jpgTHE ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS will open in the Los Angeles area on October 21 at the Sundance Sunset in West Los Angeles, Laemmle’s Playhouse 7 in Pasadena and The Frida Cinema in Santa Ana.  (Please see press release pasted below for more details.)  It is also scheduled to play in a number of other cities, with more being added all the time, per this list

The full-length ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS is definitely for adult audiences but many of the theaters where it will be playing are offering “family-friendly” matinee screenings with just 12 short animated films which tackle a variety of themes and subjects in a variety of animation styles. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “This family-friendly animation collection consists of 12 short films. Each film has a different story and inspiration. There are films about families, children, mothers, fathers, animals and many other subjects. This is what really made this collection of animation films very special.” See her full review below.

The 18th Annual Animation Show Of Shows
By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST Film Critic, Age 11

This family-friendly animation collection consists of 12 short films. Each film has a different story and inspiration. There are films about families, children, mothers, fathers, animals and many other subjects. This is what really made this collection of animation films very special.

My absolute favorite film is About a Mother by Dina Velikovskaya.  This short film is about a mother who is willing to give up everything she has to make sure that everyone in her family is safe and sound. I love this film because it reminds me of my mother and how she has given up so much so I can be safe and happy. The animated black and white figures are very simple which makes this story unique and brilliant at the same time.

My other favorite film is Pearl by Patrick Osborne. This short film is about a father and daughter’s relationship over many years and shows how things change and yet how things stay the same. I like this film because it is very sweet and it touched my heart. The animation is hand drawn and it looks like a cartoon that came from a story book.

I also really like a short film called Piper by Alan Barillaro about an adorable baby bird trying to find food and learning to grow up. It is adorable, has a unique story and stupendous animation. This one was made  by PIXAR and played in theaters prior to the feature film Finding Dory. I also love the comedy films which really help lighten up the mood of the whole event. Another favorite is Mirror by Chris Ware. This is a funny story about a mother who might have said the wrong thing to her child accidentally. It shows both the mother’s and the child’s points of view. This story is quite different way than all the other short films which makes it stand out from the rest. The animation is very simple, yet complex at the same time and that is what makes it so brilliant and unique. This film is a comedy which had me laughing the entire time.

This festival really stands out in a magnificent way. It shows young illustrators and animators that they can accomplish their dreams and that they can do anything. I recommend that when you watch these films, you think about how much time and effort it takes to draw and animate these ideas that brighten our world. These animators are our future filmmakers and seeing their work helped me dream big and touch the sky.

I recommend this collection for ages 6 through 18. They will enjoy this animated film collection and the great story lines. I give these films 4 ½ out 5 stars. This festival plays in Los Angeles, CA October 21-27, 2016 and travels around the country.


Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

PBS.Halloween.jpgThis fall, kids are in for a delightfully spooky treat on PBS KIDS. On October 28, PBS KIDS will premiere THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT HALLOWEEN! on television and streaming devices. The new movie follows Nick and Sally as the Cat in the Hat takes them on an exciting Halloween ride. Additionally, PBS KIDS will premiere new Halloween-themed episodes from DINOSAUR TRAIN, NATURE CAT, and READY JET GO! Encore programming from PEG + CAT, DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD and many others will also air and stream on PBS KIDS all month long.

The treats keep coming in October when PBS KIDS will offer a variety of Halloween-themed games for kids to play onHalloween.jpg the free PBS KIDS Games App and, including the Cat in the Hat Corn Maze Craze, Cat in the Hat Camp Time, NATURE CAT Park Builder and PEG + CAT Parade. A new Spooky Street and set of rewards will be launching on PBS KIDS’ popular virtual world Kart Kingdom as well. Hands-on activities, including pumpkin-carving templates with favorite PBS KIDS characters, are available on PBS Parents.

“Halloween is an exciting holiday for our audience, so we are celebrating this year with new programming from several of our popular series – including THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT!,” said Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Children’spbs_kids_halloween.jpeg Media and Education, PBS. “PBS KIDS is dedicated to finding learning opportunities in the topics that kids are passionate about, and Halloween is no exception. During this festive season, when the school year is still just beginning for many students, PBS is proud to offer a wide array of content for kids, parents and teachers to keep the fun, exploration and learning going all October long.”

This fall, PBS will also offer PreK-12 teachers an easy way to integrate Halloween themes into their instruction with a range of curriculum-aligned videos, lesson plans and games. Teachers can use these resources to enhance homework assignments or kick-start classroom discussions. These free resources are available to teachers nationwide on Examples includethe_runaway_pumpkin.jpg PEG + CAT’s Tiger Trick or Treat, PBS LearningMedia’s All About the Holidays: Halloween, PBS Digital Studios’ Frankenstein, M.D. and more.

More information on PBS KIDS’ Halloween programming, including when to watch, is included below. A variety of Halloween DVDs are also available from PBS Distribution.

New Programming

Premieres and streaming October 28; re-airs October 29 – November 1

The Cat in the Hat takes Nick and Sally on a wild Halloween ride in this all-new movie.  Their fright-filled adventure takes them deep into the Oooky-ma-kooky Closet, where Nick and Sally discover the very best Halloween costumes ever.

New episode premieres on October 17; streaming October 28

“Spooky Tree/Spinosaurus Super Model” – In “Spooky Tree,” as the Pteranodon family explores a mysterious tree that seems to come alive at night, they learn about bioluminescence along the way. Then, in “Spinosaurus Super Model,” Don tries to convince Old Spinosaurus to pose for a sculpture, highlighting the many features of the world’s largest land carnivore.

New episode premieres October 10; streaming October 14

“Runaway Pumpkin/Lady Bug Tough” – The backyard gang has a Halloween party featuring the biggest, most beautiful pumpkin ever.

New episode airs October 24; streaming October 28

“Jet’s First Halloween” (Parts 1 & 2) – In this special half-hour episode, Sydney, Sean and Mindy help Jet experience his first Halloween – from carving Jack-o-lanterns and dressing up in costumes, to trick-or-treating and going to a haunted house. Along the way, the gang learns about lunar eclipses and the Red Moon.

CURIOUS GEORGE: A Halloween Boo Fest

An encore presentation of the popular Halloween-themed movie airs on October 24, October 28, and October 31.

More PBS KIDS Favorites
Halloween episodes from the following series will also encore in October:









Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Musical On Tour!

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast features the animated film’s Academy Award®-winning score with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by the late Howard Ashman, with additional songs with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice. The book is written by Linda Woolverton.

The original creators of the Broadway production are together again for this new touring production!  Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tre’ana H. comments, “Beauty And The Beast is a phenomenal musical based on the original classic story. It draws you in and makes you a part of the scene.” See her full review below.


For a full tour schedule, sheck out


Beauty and The Beast, The Musical

By Tre’ana H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Beauty And The Beast is a phenomenal musical based on the original classic story. It draws you in and makes you a part of the scene. I enjoyed this because it is filled with drama, thrills, romance and some action. The rose is symbolic with its blue, gloomy background and the transformation is great. Will the rose be back with love or sadness?  This musical touched my heart because of its message – you should treat people the way you want to be treated. The director, Rob Roth takes you through turns and twists but the outcome is grand. I appreciated this musical because it is hilarious and interesting.


The beast (Sam Hartley) is a prince who is spoiled, selfish and lonely. When the spell is cast upon him he becomes a mean man. Belle’s father goes into the forest trying to attend the inventor’s competition and gets lost in the forest. The wolves try to eat him but he stumbles upon a castle where the servants let him in. The beast are very cruel to Belle’s father and put him in the dungeon. Belle (Brooke Quintana) tracks down her father to the horrible beast castle and he agrees to let her father go if she will take his place as a hostage. What an amazing thing to do? Will he kill her or let her survive?


The beast costume is gothic and eerie.  The townspeople and servant costumes are illuminating with bright colors that captivate you. The lighting design by Natasha Katz excels in every scene. The set designs by Stanley A. Meyer are mysterious, colorful and gloomy. The music by Kevin Francis Finn is truly breathtaking.


The message of the musical is to treat people fairly and, if you can help someone, extend that extra hand and you will be blessed.


My favorite scene is when the beast turns into a human and floats above the stage and transforms into a young man. This is fantastic! You will not believe it!


I recommend this play for ages 8 to 18 and I give it 5 out of 5 Stars because it is full of excitement. I really enjoyed it and you will too, so put this astonishing musical on your todo list.  You will not be disappointed.


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