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The Newsstand - What's Hot!


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The Newsstand - What's Hot

Christine Pollock, Newsletter Editor
"I must take issue with the term 'a mere child,' for it has been my invariable experience that the company of a mere child is infinitely preferable to that of a mere adult." - Fran Lebowitz


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Turning your TV Time into Quality Time
October 18, 2005 Issue #10b
Christine L. Pollock, Editor
Ranny Levy, Publisher
[email protected]

1. Letters from the Editor and President
2. Highlighted Store Titles
3. New Endorsements
4. Festival Titles
Member News
6. New Members/Renewing Members
7. Media News
8. Family and Parenting News
9. Revolutionary Technology and Its Media Impact by Christine L. Pollock
10. Craft – Homemade Hamtaro
11. Events
* Permission to forward or reprint the content herein is granted with complete attribution.

Interview with Center for Media Literacy Founder, Liz Thoman

Interview with Reading Rainbow Producer, Dr. Twila Liggett

The Inner Workings of Sesame Workshop with Dr. Ed Greene

Our Web Store

Books to Big Screen

Contributing to Communities with the KIDS FIRST!® Film Festival

Media as an Educational Resource

National Media Education Conference

New: KIDS FIRST! logo store
Your purchase of hats, t-shirts, baby jumpers, bibs, and totes benefit KIDS FIRST!

Enter the KIDS FIRST! My Best Artist Coloring Contest and Win over $100 in DVDs!

The Coalition for Quality Children's Media is a national, not-for-profit organization founded in 1991. Because we believe that media profoundly affect children, our mission is to 1) teach children critical viewing skills and 2) to increase the visibility and availability of quality children's programs.

CQCM Newsletter Archive
2005 Jan / Feb / Mar / April / May / June / July / August / September / October
2004 / 2003 / 2002
2001 / 2000 / 1999 / 1998
1997a 1997 b

Welcome to KIDS FIRST!® NEWS. All articles are by Coalition for Quality Children's Media unless otherwise noted.

Dear Friends,

I love the quote above. Children are such a great gift and inspiration. We see that in our juror groups and at our film festivals.

Did you vote for the KIDS FIRST! Best for 2005? Remember that you, our audience, selected the winners. The winners will be posted on our webstore after November 19 at

We have a Coloring Contest for this month! Kids can color their favorite character for a chance to win over $100 in DVDs! Winners will be announced by December 20th at and notified by email. Click here to download your favorite character and the entry form.

Also, for all homeschoolers and educators, we have also begun a media literacy blog for homeschoolers. Go to to see how I incorporate media literacy into my own homeschool classroom.

As always, I welcome your input. If you have comments on titles we have endorsed; notices of awards, publications, and products; or suggestions for articles...drop me at line at [email protected].

Christine Pollock, Editor
[email protected]

Dear Readers,

I want to encourage all of our readers in the Colorado area to attend our KIDS FIRST! Best Awards events, November 19 and 20 during the 28th Starz Denver International Film Festival.

On Saturday, November 19, we will announce the winners of our KIDS FIRST! Best awards, play the award winners as well as a selection other new titles, present the Rocky Mountain Premiere of The Blue Butterfly starring William Hurt and co-host a "Cupcake Social" at the Children's Museum of Denver. Saturday evening, we will announce our five "Best of the Fest" Award Winners during the Closing Awards Ceremonies of SDIFF. A selection of new films from independent producers will be shown on Sunday afternoon, November 20. You can download the official film schedule at anytime after Monday, October 24th.

KIDS FIRST! has worked with the Denver Film Society and ArtReach of Denver to provide youth-appropriate films and videos year-round since 2003. "Denver Film Society is excited to expand its successful two-year partnership with KIDS FIRST! by producing and presenting the KIDS! FIRST Best Awards at the 28th Starz Denver International Film Festival (SDIFF28)," says Scott Rowitz, executive director, Denver Film Society. "Denver Film Society and KIDS FIRST! have successfully partnered with ArtReach to offer the Denver area's only regular screenings of family-friendly weekend matinees."

Here's a reminder to all our producer readers that our submission deadline for our first quarter of 2006 is October 15, with a late deadline of November 14. So, if you haven't submitted your title yet, please do so now. You may submit directly through KIDS FIRST! or, through

Next month, we will be announcing our Award Winners as well as our online Holiday Buying Guide. For all you parents, grandparents, or others with young children in your lives, be sure to check back to see what KIDS FIRST! recommends you consider for your holiday gifts.

Much love,

Ranny Levy
Founder and President, KIDS FIRST!



To keep up with the fast-paced growth at KIDS FIRST!®, we offer juror training online. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a KIDS FIRST!® juror, now's a great time to get started. There is a minimal $40 fee for the training, which is fully refunded after you have been active as a juror for six months. Jurors keep the titles they review and approve. What a wonderful way for teachers, librarians, parents, daycare providers and others involved with children to help KIDS FIRST!® while building their own quality media library. To register or get more information, please click here.

Teaches ASL signs for family members, feelings, and things you find outside. Divided into family songs, outside songs, and feelings.

KIDS FIRST!™ Adult Juror Comments: Excellent. Great presentation. Well organized. It's divided into three sections - family, outside, and feelings. Each is further divided into words that fit into that category. After each word is shown, it shows a variety of children signing the word and doing the activity. Simple words are used that children can easily relate to. Flows well from one part to another. Pace is relaxed but chocked full of information. Encourages experimentation with sign language. May empower very young children to communicate before vocal speech develops.

KIDS FIRST!™ KID Juror Comments: Most kids enjoyed this, particulary the cartoon frog's antics. When they lost interest, he would draw them back to the screens. All enjoyed the music. Many didn't want to watch this but when they did, they enjoyed it. Some said they liked it "because there was a love part."

Rating: All-Star
Running Time: 30 min.
Recommended Age: Ages 2 - 5 Category: Educational/Instructional
Format: DVD/VHS
Produced by: Two Little Hands Productions

NEW ENDORSEMENTS ********************************

More New Endorsements can be found at

Titles receiving the highest scores are given a three star rating. Ttles that meet or exceed the criteria receive a two-star rating.
Titles that meet the baseline criteria but require some extra consideration on the part of the viewer a one-star rating.
Titles that meet the baseline criteria but require some extra consideration on the part of the viewer receive a one star rating

DVD and Video, Ages 2-5

From America's heartland, an acclaimed family recording artist steams ahead with his
second collection of railroad songs, My Mama Was A Train. James Coffey includes 15 original and traditional songs, all relating to the magic and wonder of trains. Adult Juror Comments: Well produced. All enjoyed Coffey's beautiful singing. Offers lots of information about trains and familiar tunes such as Little Red Caboose and Down by the Station. One preschool teacher said she would definitely use this in her when they study transportation. A group who had just read Thomas the Train loved that it told them more about trains. Great format, allows kids to sing along, count and pretend to ride on trains. Helps develop children's language skills by talking about something they are interested in. Kid Juror Comments: Enjoyed the music and learning about trains. Lively music got the children moving quickly. Kids related to specific songs such as Build a Bridge, and said they imagined they could build a train bridge. Even older kids enjoyed songs such as Casey Jones. Some groups headed to the library afterwards to find books about trains. Audio. 45 min.; $14.95; Age: 2-5. BLUE VISION MUSIC.



Our complete list of titles is available by clicking here.

Thomas & Friends: Percy Saves the Day. A. 35 min.
Storyteller, Michael Brandon delivers another collection of wonderful stories about friends taking care of each other. On the Island of Sodor, Sir Topham Hatt is always stressing to the engines the importance of working together and listening to one another. Sometimes, the engines don't always do as their told. Rusty risks his safety to save Duncan. Fergus pushes the twins out of the way after they disobey his warning to go carefully and, in rescuing them, becomes buried in a landslide. The twins apologize and Fergus forgives them. Age: 2-5. Anchor Bay Entertainment

Pinocchio 3,000. 80 min.
Portrays the adventures of a little robot whose greatest wish is to become a real boy. The year is 3000. Gepetto, with the help of his faithful assistant, Spencer the Cyber Penguin, and by the holographic fairy Cyberina, creates Pinocchio, a prototype super-robot equipped for emotions. But before he can be given a heart and become a real boy, Cyberina insists that Pinocchio learn the difference between right and wrong. Spanish track. Ages 8-12. Lions Gate Home Entertainment.

Goosebumps: Scary House. A. 44 min.
In "The House of No Return," Chris Wakely hopes to win friends in his new town by becoming a member of The Danger Club. But that means spending an entire hour alone in the spookiest, most haunted house in the neighborhood! Chris won't be totally alone, however; evil ghosts will keep him company… Then, when Nadine Platt and her friend Jonathan discover a board game called "The Haunted House Game" in a big, creepy old house, they soon realize that it's not just another Monopoly - especially when they suddenly find themselves inside the game - surrounded by hideous-looking ghouls, terrifying ghosts, and eerie voices! English, Dubbed; English, Subtitled. Ages 7-12. Fox Home Entertainment

Spookley the Square Pumpkin. A. 45 min.
In a world where "the only good pumpkins are found pumpkins," Spookley the Square Pumpkin is shunned by the other pumpkins until a mighty storm threatens to destroy the entire patch. As the storm rages, Spookley realizes "it's fine to be round while the weather is fair, but there are times it's better to be a square!" Ages 3-7. Lions Gate Home Entertainment.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. A. 10 min. S.
Inspired by the true story of Philippe Petit, a young French aerialist, and his daring 1974 high wire walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The excitement, suspense and reverence of that feat are brought to breathtaking life in this animated adaptation. Caldecott Medal Book; ALA Notable Book; Book by Mordicai Gerstein; Illustrator: Mordicai Gerstein. Directed by Michael Sporn. Narrated by Jake Gyllenhaal, music by Michael Bacon. Ages 5-9. Weston Woods/Scholastic.

Raju & I. A. 30 min.
Examines the problems of underprivileged children from viewpoint of a 12-year-old upper middle class child, Atul who is too full of himself to notice poverty. Raju's father is a drunkard who beats his son and makes him work instead of go to school. Raju's world is a far cry from Atul's, but that does not prevent them from sharing some fun times together. When Raju disappears, Atul's search for him opens his eyes to a whole new world. The film focuses on the rights of the child and ends with a hope for the future and a pleasant surprise for Atul. Directed by Gayatri Rao, developed for ASEEMA, a non-profit working for street children. Age: 8-12. Animagic Special Effects Pvt. Ltd.

Help Save Reading Rainbow
Wish you could help keep this fabulous award-winning show? Go to and sign the petition.
Scholastic - Available October 25th-The Scholastic Video Collection™ brings together a perfect blend of story and song with a brand-new fall release, The Wheels on the Bus…And More Musical Favorites. Read More
Paramount - Available October 25th - Home viewers can enter a magical world with the all-new animated feature, My Little Pony: A Very Minty Christmas! Read More
Dawn Westlake - We at KIDS FIRST!® congratulate Dawn whose film, A Life of Death, has been accepted into a film festival in Swaziland. Check out her work here.
Big Idea - Just in time for holiday cheer and fun family get-togethers, The Incredible Singing Christmas Tree has been released from Big Idea's VeggieTales.

Big Idea - VeggieTales: Lord of the Beans, a story about gifts and how to use what we have to help others. Available Oct. 29 and Nov. 1 in the CBA and general markets respectively.
"Body Mechanics Get Tiny " Tour. Kick off is in Los Angeles on October 21 - 24. Tiny has lost over 200 pounds and is anxious to get on the bus with Eric Nies and Tony to share his body mechanics experience, and fight childhood obesity. Learn More


Please welcome these new or renewing members and visit their web sites.

Hammershark Media

Magic Frank

Monterey Media, Inc.

Power to Create


Nielsen Media Research reports that during the last television season, television sets in American homes were turned on more every day this previous season than in the history of television. Read More

Poughkeepsie opens a new Discovery Channel Media Education Center
Hillary Clinton helped unveil this first-of-its-kind set-up for middle school children who are learning to integrate media into their school subjects. Read More


This 24 hour TV channel is designed to complement your pre-schooler's day from breakfast to bedtime. Read More

Sesame Street on the Food Network
Chef Emeril Lagasse is joined by Elmo, on "Emeril and Elmo's Healthy Start," airing Friday, November 4 at 8pm ET/PT on Food Network. "Healthy Habits for Life," addresses the current childhood obesity crisis. Read More

Revolutionary Technology and Its Social Impact by Christine L. Pollock

"Tech gadgets are so cool, some are even considered fashion accessories," cites blogger and computer guru, Anders Brownworth. "Gen-Y kids don't actually know how tech gadgets work, but would benefit from some basic knowledge." It's true. My eight-year old can use a digital camera and make an animation sequence through pre-made freeware programs such as MonkeyJam. He has no clue how this is possible. That situation won't be getting better anytime soon. If anything, technology is getting more sophisticated. Yet, the more realistic technology gets, the more sociological impact it can make as viewers become immersed in the media experience.

Centuries ago, Leonardo Da Vinci revolutionized the world with his drawings. By examining cadavers, he learned to draw sinews and muscle, creating figure drawings that were more realistic than anything before his time. Now technology gurus are changing the art world again, this time in digital dimensions. Gone are the days of flat two-dimensional human renditions moving jerkily on the screen. "3D is getting more sophisticated. Simulation is going to be the big thing there. You won't just be modeling a skin on your character. You'll build it like a real person, from the skeleton up," animator, Thomas Moser says. Viewers will find it easer to relate to the characters.

Rob Hudnut, Mattel animator, comments that it was only a few years before Barbie's Nutcracker that CGI was used only to animate "hard things" like plastic action heroes and bugs. It was missing the human element until the Nutcracker broke new ground by adding hair and clothes and movements based on real people from the New York City ballet. Modern technology allows us to created realistically human images for the screen.

Reality-based advances apply to music also. "I think the trend in film sound and music is to immerse the listener/viewer more completely in the experience by surrounding them with the sounds." says Mark Hijleh, award-winning composer and professor of music at Houghton College. Hijleh has written music for a number of independent student films, including several recent scores for projects in the graduate animation program at the Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY).

According to Hijleh, technology is allowing sound design and music in films to become more and more complex. Composers must now think in terms of the spatial separation of the sound and music bouncing around from speaker to speaker.

The idea of immersing the in the media experience extends beyond drawing and composing to the actual viewing device. Dan Mapes's 3-D TV enters living rooms this spring. This mind-boggling technology allows viewers to watch three different shows in the same room, from the same TV, without seeing each others' screen. You can watch the news while a few feet away your child watches PBS. Your spouse can be surfing the net on the other side of your child. Directional sound or earphones prevent the sounds from interfering with each other. Best of all, the shows can be watched in 3-D, without glasses.

Mapes, father of a seven-year-old child, thinks kids will be excited about the crisp colors and detailed characters on-screen. Games become more real and shows more visually appealing in three dimensions. Mapes is also curious about the changes to social mores. According to him, media is almost a mirror of our society. We are currently a two-dimensional civilization, with newspapers, TV and billboards. As we shift from two dimensional to three dimensional through our media, we are creating media more like ourselves and our environment. Will this lead us to view the subjects in the media with a more humane eye? Only time will tell.


Homemade Hamtaro
based on Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Head Seaward

Materials: cardboard or cereal box; yarn; pipe cleaner; scissors
Go to craft page at

KIDS FIRST!® Film and Video Festival Schedule
Join us as we travel around the country with film festivals. Find out when we will be in a town near you. For details read here

Phoenix, AZ
Yuma, AZ

Los Angeles, CA

Newport Beach, CA
San Jose, CA

Santa Barbara, CA

Denver CO

Fort Wayne, IN

Wichita, KA

Louisville, KY

New Orleans, LA

Boston, MA
Brookline MA

Albuquerque, NM
Santa Fe, NM

Brooklyn, NY

Garden City, NY

Queens, NY

San Juan, PR

LaCrosse, WI
Milwaukee, WI

Nashville, TN

Dallas, TX Houston, TX
Spring, TX

Washington, DC

Other Events:

Oct. 22, 2005, from 8am - 4pm.: Cambridge, MA.
Media Literacy Symposium at MIT. Features schools that are implementing media literacy curricula in the K-12 learning space and in after-school programs. Contact Alan for information.

November 2 and 5, 2005, Denver, CO
Denver Film Society and KIDS FIRST! in partnership with The Entertainment Project offer the KIDS FIRST! Junior Film Critics Club workshop for ages 8 to 13, and a chance for young movie buffs to truly be their own critics.

The Entertainment Project will present workshops for youth to train and learn how to review films, and gain real-world experience through viewing, discussing, writing about and giving presentations about films. Selected students from the workshops will be featured in high profile events such as a panel discussion that critiques film, serve as reporters on the red-carpet to conduct interviews with stars and celebrities during SDIFF28 and write reviews for Whose magazine? a youth publication of The Entertainment Project.

Last year, two Junior. Film Critics interviewed Morgan Freeman, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and other celebrities on the Red Carpet during Starz Denver International Film Festival 27.

To register, go to call 303-383-1584 ext.#3. Individuals are welcome, and scholarships are available for classes from schools through TIAA-CREF.

November 4-6, 2005:
Reel Grrls is recruiting 50 girls, ages 14-18, who are interested in the arts, film making, and activism, to participate in "Girls in the Director's Chair." Scholarships are available. Read More.

November 10-20, 2005: Denver, CO
Starz Denver International Film Festival. KIDS FIRST!® awards show November 19 and 20. Official schedule online Oct. 24th Read More

Nov 29- Dec. 1, 2005: Nashua, New Hampshire
The New Hampshire Society for Technology in the Classroom is
holding a variety of workshops, conferences, and presentations that will look at using the Internet, digital media, video games, and more to supplement and stimulate classroom activity. Read More

To add your event to this list, please send a notice to [email protected].

Become a Coalition for Quality Children's Media Member

If you've found our e-zine and web site helpful, please consider becoming a member of KIDS FIRST!® Members help underwrite the various projects of this organization. The Coalition for Quality Children's Media's relies on the generous support of its members and donors to support its programs. An individual/family membership is only $25/year. An organizational membership is $100/year. An independent producer membership is $200. To join, go to: or contact our office at 505.989.8076.

VISIT OUR MEMBERS' SITES ******************
Please visit our website for an up-to-date list of Coalition members by clicking here:


Contact [email protected] ************************

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This newsletter may be reprinted with permission. Write to: [email protected]
Copyright 2002 by Coalition for Quality Children's Media,

KIDS FIRST!® is the not-for-profit Coalition for Quality Children's Media's initiative that evaluates and rates children's media - videotapes, CD-ROMs and television - using a highly acclaimed method that has been praised by parents and educators alike. It utilizes professionally designed criteria and evaluation tools and engages a volunteer jury comprising child development professionals, teachers and parents nationwide and children of diverse geographic, socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. KIDS FIRST!® endorsed titles appeal to people around the world and include many programs on topics important to children's development. KIDS FIRST!®-endorsed titles are available on CQCM's award-winning Internet site, in the KIDS FIRST!® Film and Video Festival and in reviews we provide to more than 75 publications.

CQCM evaluates feature films, television programs, videos, CD-ROM, DVDs and audio recordings. For an application form and application deadlines, visit our website at, call our office (505.989.8076) or send an email to [email protected].

Coalition for Quality Children's Media, 112 W. San Francisco St., Suite 305A, Santa Fe, NM 87501.

CQCM Newsletter Archive
2004 / 2003 / 2002
2001 / 2000 / 1999 / 1998
1997a 1997 b
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