Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for November, 2015

Book Based Films Offer Evergreen Entertainment in The Snowman and Its Sequel, The Snowman and Snowdog

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

TheSnowmanDoubld.jpgThe 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 every time I watch this film. Based on the best-selling book by Raymond Briggs, this animation 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 a DVD containing both The Snowman and the its sequel, The Snowman and Snowdog which was created to mark the 30th anniversary of the original. Also a non-narrative film, the sequel introduces a  new character and is as charming as the original. Dedicated to John Coates and featuring the new song, “Light the Night” by former Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows, it is an extremely thoughtful sequel and was made using traditional hand-drawn animation, not CGI. This collection is really a treasure!

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Clayton P. comments, “The music by Howard Blake, Peter Auty and the Sinfonia of London is amazing… Each song tells a story, with each pluck of a string or push of a piano key. I am sixteen and I sung along with the songs!” Kamren W. adds, “I was amazed how, even with no voices, they are easy to follow and very enjoyable.” See their full reviews below.

The Snowman and The Snowman and the Snow Dog Double Feature – Collector’s Edition

By Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16 

These extravagant films have a little touch of magic which will keep you on your toes with excitement. The Snowman and The Snowman and The Snowdog is a double feature masterpiece that will bring families closer together for the holidays. The two short films are based on the classic UK picture book by Raymond Briggs, which has sold more than 8.5 million copies since it was first published in 1978.  This double feature collector’s edition is a true keepsake that includes the original film, and its sequel. It also includes three bonus features: The story of The Snowman, an alternate introduction from David Bowie and a behind-the-scenes documentary and interview with the writer, Raymond Briggs. The total length of the two films is 60 minutes, plus the bonus content. 

These extravagant films have a little touch of magic which will keep you on your toes with excitement. The Snowman and The Snowman and The Snowdog is a double feature masterpiece that will bring families closer together for the holidays. The two short films are based on the classic UK picture book by Raymond Briggs, which has sold more than 8.5 million copies since it was first published in 1978.  This double feature collector’s edition is a true keepsake that includes the original film, and its sequel. It also includes three bonus features: The story of The Snowman, an alternate introduction from David Bowie and a behind-the-scenes documentary and interview with the writer, Raymond Briggs. The total length of the two films is 60 minutes, plus the bonus content.

In The Snowman, a young boy James wakes up one morning and finds snow on the ground. He quickly gets dressed and runs outside. He then builds a huge snowman. He gives it eyes, a nose, a scarf and a hat. He even gives it a big smiley face. After building the entire snowman by himself, it is time for James to go to bed. When he wakes up he notices that the Snowman has moved a little, so he runs downstairs and out the door. He then notices that the Snowman is glowing, moves some more and then, totally comes to life. James is flabbergasted to see a live Snowman. The Snowman and James introduce themselves and become great friends. The rest the film shows the two flying around having so much fun and adventure throughout the day.


In The Snowman and the Snow Dog, a young boy and his mother move to a new house. The boy finds a box with a snowman-making kit under the flooring. He then runs outside and starts to build a snowman.  After he is done, he uses all the leftover snow to make a little, adorable snow dog. When he is finished, it is time to go to bed. When he wakes up he sees the dog move a little, he then jumps with joy and races down the stairs to see what is happening. To his surprise, the snowman and the snow dog start to glow and move. Even more to his surprise, they come alive. He then becomes friends with them and they travel and have adventures all around the North Pole and meet a special someone.

The book, The Snowman was adapted for the screen in 1982. It was nominated for an Academy Award for best animated short film. The animation of the drawings is just amazing, bringing to life so many memories from the days of movie shorts. The silence in the film, meaning that there is no dialogue, makes it even more beautiful and old fashioned.  The music by Howard Blake, Peter Auty and the Sinfonia of London is amazing. It fits perfectly with everything the boy and the snowman are doing at given times. Each song tells a story, with each pluck of a string or push of a piano key. The songs in the movie are also catchy and addicting to sing along with.  I am sixteen and I sung along with the songs!


The Snowman and The Snowman and The Snow Dog are appropriate for ages 1 to 12.  I rate this whimsical double-feature 5 out of 5 stars. It is available on DVD now. 

The Snowman and The Snowman and the Snow Dog Double Feature – Collector’s Edition

By Kamren W., KIDS FIRST! Film Review Critic, age 9

These two enjoyable silent films are made with great hand-drawn animation and easy-to-follow storylines about a little boy who builds a snowman that comes to life. The theme is very simple and fun to watch, plus, who doesn’t love snowmen? Both films remind me of the picture books by Raymond Briggs that they are based on. I was amazed how, even with no voices, they are easy to follow and very enjoyable. 

The two films have been released as a double feature, the 1982 film The Snowman along with the 2012 sequel, The Snowman and the Snowdog. In The Snowman, the little boy brings the snowman inside! The snowman becomes curious and starts to mess with things around the house, he even starts messing with hot water and melts a little. The snowman and little boy go on a flying adventure to a party where they meet Father Christmas. The sequel, The Snowman and the Snowdog, although very similar to the first, introduces a new boy who finds a snowman making kit. In this film, there is also a dog made from snow who accompanies the little boy and the snowman on an adventure

The animation team does not use 3D or a lot of colors. There are funny scenes in both films. In the first film, the snowman starts to dress up in the boy’s parent’s clothes. This made me think of how kids like dressing up in their parent’s clothes. One interesting thing in both films was the different cultures of snowmen. In the first film, the Hawaiian snowman stood out to me. In the second film, there are many Asian snowmen at the parties.

The musical score is played by an orchestra in both films. The music is very calming. Through the songs you experience different emotions, especially in The Snowman and the Snowdog. The boy, dog and snowman are in a race and the music is very happy and, in one scene, very fast which adds a new emotional element.

I recommend these films to children ages 2 to 6. Parents will enjoy not having to worry if it is appropriate or not. I give both films 4 out of 5 stars. There are a few bonus features which talks about how popular the classic picture book was and why author Raymond Briggs decided to make the film. This Collector’s Edition Double Feature DVD is available in stores now.

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KIDS FIRST! 2015 Holiday Gift Guide – DVDs, Audio Recordings, Theatrical Releases, E-Books

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

As the holidays approach, you are looking for the perfect gift for that niece, nephew, sister-in-law and of course, your own kids and family members. You know what the people closest to you want and need, but those relatives who you don’t see as often are a bit of a challenge. Check out our compilation of DVDs, Feature Films, Audio Recordings and E-Books to help you find the perfect gift for your loved ones. Many have been reviewed by KIDS FIRST! Film Critics and we’ve provided a link to their video reviews which gives you the kids’ point of view. More film reviews are available on our homepage. Happy Holidays from KIDS FIRST!



Armed with the amazing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang joins forces with his new mentor Dr. Hank Pym to protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from ruthless villains! With humanity’s fate in the balance, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a daring heist against insurmountable odds. Filled with humor, awesome special effects and exclusive bonus features, this action-packed adventure takes you to new levels of pulse-pounding excitement! MSRP: $39.99 Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpVPsHMDLTw

214189.Avengers.jpgAvengers: Age of Ultron 

When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to The Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for an epic and unique global adventure. MSRP: $39.99. Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbFqfu6U0ko



For the first time ever, a whole new world of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Aladdin will be revealed in aA whole new way on Blu-ray with never-before-seen bonus. Rediscover how three wishes can change everything in Disney’s timeless adventure for the whole family. MSRP: $29.99. Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRjElA2Vl1Y

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Alexander’s day begins with gum stuck in his hair, followed by more calamities. Though he finds little sympathy from his family and begins to wonder if bad things only happen to him, his mom, dad, brother, and sister all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Starring Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner and Ed Oxenbould as Alexander. MSRP: $36.99. Video review: http://youtu.be/ogtd8QhXY0A


Walt Disney Animation Studios is releasing the live action version of Cinderella on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere. The movie stars Cate Blanchett as Stepmother (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), Lily James as Cinderella (TV’s “Downton Abbey”), Richard Madden (TV’s “Game of Thrones”) as Prince, Stellan Skarsgård (Marvel’s: “The Avengers,” “Thor”) as Grand Duke, Holliday Grainger (“Jane Eyre”) as Anastasia, Derek Jacobi (“The King’s Speech” ) as King, and Helena Bonham Carter as Fairy Godmother (“Alice in Wonderland”). MSRP: $36.89. Video review:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7Bhyy-J8U8


When Oh, a lovable misfit from another planet, lands on Earth and finds himself on the run from his own people, he forms an unlikely friendship with an adventurous girl named Tip who is on a quest of her own. Through a series of comic adventures with Tip, Oh comes to understand that being different and making mistakes is all part of being human, and together they discover the true meaning of the word HOME. MRSP: $19.04. Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8LHlp4UhlY

INsideout.jpgInside Out

After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Jay, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school. Directed by Pete Docter and Ronaldo del Carmen. Starring Diane Lane, Rashida Jones and Amy Poehler. MSRP: $39.99. Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg7QOumdKWc

The Legend of Longwood

Crumbling castles, frightening spirits, beautiful horses and a plucky, fearless heroine all come together in this magical quest film, set in the starkly beautiful landscapes of rural Ireland. When 12-year-old Mickey Miller moves from New York to Ireland, she soon discovers a link between herself and the 300-year-old legend of the mysterious Black Knight, who regularly haunts the sleepy Irish village. MSRP: $16.97. Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yB___oeu1rs

Little House on the Prairie – The Complete Collection

Fall in love again with the classic TV series that celebrates family, faith and the human spirit, and enjoy the nine-season saga with vividly restored picture and sound. Completely uncut and remastered, this 48-disc set features all nine seasons and is packed with eight hours of bonus material, including the 96-minute original pilot movie, a cast screen test with Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert, the six-part  “The ‘Little House’ Phenomenon” documentary that takes a historical look back at the acclaimed series and three movie specials. MSRP:$149.98

MLP.EquestiaGirls.Friendship.jpgMy Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Friendship Games

Every four years, Canterlot High has ‘The Friendship Games’ where they must rival with different schools with a series of different sporting events and every year, the cup has gone to Crystal Prep. So Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Applejack, and Sunset Shimmer must work together to win the cup. But they find out that the other Twilight Sparkle is on the opposing team. MSRP: $17.98. Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=801twsvfwyI

Once Upon a Sign: The Magic Mirror

In this DVD, young Alice Cogswell wants to enter the talent show but she’s unsure of herself. After an audition that doesn’t go her way, she gets some magic help. But will this magic help get her to the talent show and help her ASL poetry sparkle? MSRP: $15.95. http://www.dawnsign.com. Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Df9XUcTXw_U

SOUP_wrap_dimensional_1.jpgOnce Upon a Sign: The New Stone Soup

This new DVD tells the story of three traveling magicians who hope to enjoy a delicious meal after entertaining the folks in a local village. The people are happy to revel in the show but are not willing to share their food with the performers, so the trio comes up with a plan to get the community to contribute food and learn that sharing can be a joyous and happy thing. MSRP: $15.95. http://www.dawnsign.com

Once Upon a Sign: The New Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and his family are struggling to make ends meet. After Jack returns from a chance encounter, it seems his family will continue to struggle. But overnight, a dramatic change happens in their front yard. How will this change impact the family? And how will it impact Los Angeles? MSRP: $15.95. http://www.dawnsign.com

THeSeventhDwarf.jpgThe Seventh Dwarf

Venture into the wondrous world of Fantabularasa Castle and be spellbound by the exciting adventures of your favorite storybook characters in The Seventh Dwarf. With an exceptional voice cast of Peyton List,, Norm Macdonald, Nina Hagen and Joshua Graham, this new CG-animated motion picture is a hilarious mash-up of the best classic fairytales, packed with beloved storybook characters,  non-stop laughs and toe-tapping songs!  MSRP $14.99. Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUlYzcBiCnA


Bound by a shared destiny, a teen (Britt Robertson) bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor (George Clooney) embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory. MSRP: $39.99. Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAFm10Ox7U8

The Wild Thornberrys: The Complete Series   

This 15 disc set contains all 91 episodes of the popular Nickelodeon series. The hit series follows the Thornberry family as they travel the world in their Communications Vehicle (or CommVee) looking for rare animals to film. After an encounter with a mysterious shaman, their youngest child Eliza was given the power to speak to animals! Traveling to every corner of the world with her family of daffy documentarians, Eliza uses her fantastic skill to learn about the lifestyles and habitats of the world’s most exotic creatures. MSRP $29.99.

The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki (Amazon Exclusive)

Includes a 1972 TV Pilot directed by Miyazaki, three episodes from the hit anime series “Little Samurai” and a commemorative booklet. For the first time, all 11 of Miyazaki’s feature-length masterpieces are packaged in collection, complete with bonus features. Included films are: Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979); Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984); Castle in the Sky (1986); My Neighbor Totoro (1988); Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989); Porco Rosso (1992); Princess Mononoke (1997); Spirited Away (2001) ; Howl’s Moving Castle (2004); Ponyo (2008/2009); The Wind Rises (2013) MSRP: $224.99

Gumby.jpgGumby: The Gumby Show, The Complete 50s Series

For the first time ever, the complete Gumby Show has been re-mastered from its original camera rolls and soundtracks with the brilliant colors and full-length formats as first aired in the 1950s. These imaginative, surrealistic, stop motion animated masterpieces will mesmerize children and adults of all ages. MSRP: $24.99. http://www.ncircleentertainment.com Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-sR2ziIR_A

Shaun the Sheep

From Aardman, the producers of Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit comes Shaun the Sheep Movie, a farm-tastic adventure for the whole family. MEET SHAUN! He’s a little sheep with big dreams, and lately, life on Mossy Bottom Farm has become a bit dull. When Shaun takes the day off for some fun in the Big City, he gets a lot more action than he bargained for. Now Shaun and his flock must use their wits to hatch a baaaa-rilliant plan to get back home in an adventure the whole family will love. MSRP: $34.99 (BR)/$29.95 (DVD) Video. Review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8x_aUsOies


ABCMeetMonsters.2D.jpgABC Monsters: Starring ABCD

The ABC Monsters are on the loose and only Alice, Brian and Cherry Berry can catch them. 26 cuddly ABC Monsters live within the walls of Capital Castle. Each monster represents a letter of the alphabet, but 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. MSRP: $9.99. http://www.ncircleentertainment.com  Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lH4ohgUGV4

Chuggington: The Big Freeze

The chuggers perform one heroic rescue after another in this cool new seasonal collection of “Chuggington” adventures! When icy temperatures cause the town to run out of fuel and all diesel engines are grounded, it’s wheels-to-the-rails as Chief Jackman and his team of brave Chug Patrollers work together to find a way to the frozen docks to retrieve fuel and get the town of Chuggington moving once again. MSRP: $14.98.

Doozers: Giant Gingerbread House

The Pod Squad want to build a Doozer-sized Gingerbread House. However, in order to achieve such a large size Gingerbread House it’s going to take some clever construction to create. Can the Pod Squad do it? Then, Daisy Wheel wants to ice skate with the others, but she doesn’t know how. Together, the Pod Squad build her a custom Doo-Step Skating Dress that lets her glide across the ice in no time. Weee! Enjoy these adventures and six more focusing on science, technology, engineering and math! MSRP: $9.99. http://www.ncircleentertainment.com

Maya.jpgMaya The Bee Movie

Based on the well-known children’s novel and popular animated series, this animated feature brings to life an enchanting story of a little bee named Maya and her exciting adventure of self-discovery and fantastical fun. This is an instant classic that delivers wholesome family entertainment— emphasizing the importance of friendship, freedom and courage. Originally a German children’s novel by Waldemar Bonsels, The Adventures of Maya the Bee was published over a hundred years ago in 1912. MSRP $15.80. Video review: https://youtu.be/F5D58b_NPEk

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls (3 Movie Gift Set)

Join Twilight Sparkle and her Canterlot High friends in three animated adventures! With a special lenticular cover featuring a transforming Twilight Sparkle, the box set houses all three films released from the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls canon, Equestria Girls, Rainbow Rocks and Friendship Games. Bonus features include audio commentaries, animated shorts and deleted scenes. MSRP $29.93. Video review:http://youtu.be/iUaO_LE2-NM

Strawberry Shortcake Berry Tales
Join Plum in “Snowberry and the Seven Berrykins” as she learns to believe in herself when putting on a small and simple play.  In “Berryella and Prince Berry Charming,” Huck agrees to be in a production, but then quickly realizes that he’d be happier behind the scenes.  Strawberry, Lemon and Raspberry star as three princesses on a quest to rule a kingdom in “The Littlest Berrykin,” and realize that they can never succeed without kindness and generosity. MSRP: $14.98.

Tinkerbell.Never.jpgTinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast

An ancient myth of a massive creature sparks the curiosity of Tinker Bell and her good friend Fawn, an animal fairy who’s not afraid to break the rules to help an animal in need. But this creature is not welcome in Pixie Hollow — and the scout fairies are determined to capture the mysterious beast, who they fear will destroy their home. Fawn must convince her fairy friends to risk everything to rescue the NeverBeast. This thrilling action-adventure roars to life with never-before-seen bonus extras on Blu-ray and DVD. MSRP: $36.99. Video review: http://youtu.be/IRR0NJzRwOg


SM.CHRISTMAS.D.JPGA Christmas Detour

Two NYC bound travelers find themselves inextricably linked when a freak snowstorm waylays their Christmas plans to an overcrowded airport hotel in Buffalo. Eternal optimist and hopeless romantic, Paige Summers, desperately needs to find a way to the city so that she can meet her fiancé’s parents before her storybook wedding — and it’s up to a guy she can’t stand, fellow passenger and total stranger Dylan Mackenzie, a guy permanently soured on romance after his girlfriend broke his heart to rise to the occasion and become Paige’s off-white Knight in shining armor. Exclusive to Walmart and Sam’s Club. MSRP: $14.93.

A Crown for Christmas

Allie has taken care of her brothers and sisters ever since their parents died when they were just kids, and now, she and her sister Lisa work as maids in a first-class Manhattan hotel. By a twist of fate, Allie meets Ryland, a King in disguise staying at the hotel, and on the very same day loses her job due to unruly hotel guests. In an effort to apologize for Allie losing her job, one of Ryland’s closest servants offers her the role of Governess (a glorified Nanny) for Ryland’s 10-year-old daughter Teddy. Walmart/Sam’s Club Exclusive. MSRP: $14.93

Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas

The story of Buddy the elf, and his quest to reunite with the human father he never knew existed. While Buddy’s sincerity and idealism are commonplace at the North Pole, these attributes are rejected in cynical New York City. But through song, dance, and relentless good cheer, Buddy rekindles the spirit of Christmas for the entire city. Voice talent of Jim Parsons, Mark Hamill, Kate Micucci and Ed Asner. MSRP: $14.98 (DVD)/$19.98 (BR)

HomeAloneCollection.jpgHome Alone 25th Anniversary Edition

This gift set features all five films packaged together for the first time in a collectible paint can. Includes all 5 films together for first time! Includes: Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Home Alone 3, Home Alone: Taking Back the House, Home Alone: The Holiday Heist. MSRP: $39.99.

Ice Sculpture Christmas

As a little girl, Callie Shaw always knew she wanted to be an amazing chef.  Now, after spending years trying to get her foot in the door, she’s losing faith that she has what it takes to succeed.  Is it time to give up?  Working as the entry-level new hire in her hometown’s country club kitchen, Callie finally gets the opportunity to make a name for herself through a culinary Christmas ice-sculpture contest!  Walmart/Sam’s Club Exclusive. MSRP: $14.93.

The Nutcracker Sweet

Features the voices of an all-star cast including Alicia Silverstone, Ed Asner and Drake Bell. It  is Christmas Eve and the Silberhaus children are excited for the festivities to begin. Marie and Fritz are playing in the children’s room when their godfather Drosselmayer arrives and presents them with an early Christmas gift, a Nutcracker. Marie witnesses a great battle between a vast army of toy soldiers led by the Nutcracker against a terrible platoon of mice commanded by the Mouse King.  MSRP: $14.93.

Tis_The_Season_For_Love_DVD_f.jpgPee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special

As you’ve never seen it before, beautifully restored, re-mastered and in HD. Join the whole Playhouse gang for one of the wackiest specials ever! With laughs for the whole family, this unique, triple Emmy®-nominated special offers all the imagination and charm of Saturday morning’s most outrageous TV series, which became a cultural milestone when it aired from 1986-1991. MSRP $6.95 (DVD) / $19.97 (BR)

‘Tis The Season For Love

Hanna Baker, left her small town of Kern to seek the stardom that everyone knew was her destiny.  Now, ten years later, with none of her dreams coming to fruition and feeling like a failure, Hanna heads back to Kern for a real hometown, family Christmas, to cheer her up. Once back, Hanna sees that life in Kern has moved on quite nicely without her and she soon finds herself longing for her past.  MSRP: $14.93.


AndyZ.ClassicSongs.jpgAndy Z: Classic Songs and Traditional Tunes

Beloved American folk songs blended with classic children’s songs that the younger set just can’t get enough of. Andy brings together two genres that complement one another beautifully and captures the heart and intention of the songs as they were originally written.  For this 15-song album, he used true-to-genre instrumentation, thoughtful arrangements and restored lyrics. MSRP: $14.98. http://www.andyz.com

Big Block Singsong Volume 1

Who knew that being so square could be so cool! Big Block Singsong is a terrific musical, visual DVD romp. Creators Warren Brown and Adam Goddard have hit the creative mother load here – what seems so simple is so deceiving in its well-designed construction – the ‘simple’ individual block characters sing a two-minute nicely produced song that covers subjects from noses and hair to emotions of sadness and happiness, so you see the sky’s the limit, or not. http://www.bigblocksingsong.com

Calling All the Elephants

CallingAllTheElephantsCover5x5_72dpi.jpgRandy & Dave, two hit songwriters from different genres, started writing some silly songs for kids. “Silly” soon morphed into over-the-top, laugh-out-loud funny. Randy’s country roots and Dave’s children’s pop roots come together to create a wacky, seesaw feel, moving from a country stroll where the wit of the lyrics sneaks up on you to a rock ‘n’ roll sprint where an outrageous lyric slams into you. MSRP: $14.98http://songwizard.com

Dancin in the Kitchen: Songs for ALL Families by Cathy and Marcy

This CD knocked my socks off so I immediately decided to dance barefoot in the kitchen – great decision. This album is a breath of fresh air that climbs the mountain of rarefied musical integrity and promotes acceptance and tolerance on so many levels. You will not be disappointed or dismayed, this album is special and grabs you from the first downbeat to the last fade-away. MSRP: $15; http://www.cathymarcy.com

DOYOUBELIEVE_1.JPGDo You Believe in Magic

Original fantasy musical/rock opera for tweens, teens, combining colorful characters, compelling story, infectious songs, danceable duets, narration, full musical score. Percy Jackson meets Into The Woods. Enchanted books, witches break into song! MSRP: $15. http://aoedemuse.com/muse/

Happy Kids Songs

These full-production songs are both highly entertaining and age appropriate–adult quality music with words and themes that tap into the most common issues confronting 4- to 8-year-olds. The variety of adult and child soloists, children’s chorus and wide range of instruments and musical styles easily hold children’s attention and parents’ too. These songs were written and produced by award-winning child psychologist, Dr. Mac, who has also been the music director and songwriter for the PBS hit, Jay Jay the Jet Plane. MSRP: $19.80; http://www.happykidssongs.comHappyKidsSongs_1.jpg

Hot Air by Recess Monkey

‘Hot Air’ rises to the occasion and delivers a potent punch of fun, danceable and delightfully listenable tunes that will lift your spirits and take you on flights of fancy that are frown resistant. Recess Monkey is a tried and true band of experienced and educated musicians who have inhaled the wonderful songwriting and production values of top groups from the late 60’s and 70’s and have exhaled a new, original and pleasing paradigm of songs that are kid-friendly but more importantly, kid-conscious. MSRP: $13. http://www.recessmonkey.com

Let’s Boogie

The debut album from Toronto children’s’ rock band, Rock’n’Rainbow, this CD is a family dance party of high energy tunes with catchy hooks & funk-rock rhythms, exploring favorite forms of exercise: biking, heading out on scooters & boogying-on-down. Rainbow Songs Inc. MSRP: $14.97. http://www.rainbowsongs.com

Nursery Rhyme Parade!

This new album presents 35 familiar nursery rhymes and songs. These fresh and sparely produced tracks provide the perfect opportunity for parents to remember their own childhoods, and to connect with their kids through melody, rhythm and rhyme.  Acclaimed children’s book and magazine illustrator Ekaterina Truhan created the sprightly animal parade art for the album and noted singer Renee Stahl guests. Exclusive to Amazon, MSRP: $9.99 CD; $8.99 Digital

The Pop Ups – Bird and Rhino 

Stomp those fires out with The Pop Ups. This is an animated music video, featuring a song from their brand new album, Great Pretenders Club, exclusively at Amazon. Animator: Garrett Davis, Artists: Jacob Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein. MSRP: $7.99 http://amzn.to/1Vn3Pi2; http://www.thepopups.com


LEGO Dimensions
The all-new collection merges physical LEGO brick building and interactive console gameplay. Includes the videogame, bricks to build the LEGO Gateway, three LEGO Minifigures, Batman, Gandalf and Wyldstyle, plus the LEGO Batmobile, and the LEGO Toy Pad, which allows players to transport special LEGO minifigures and models into the game, as well as direct in-game action all with the movement of the physical toys.  MSRP: $99.99


Brings together 20 years of history and inspiration from some of the most beloved games in the venerable franchise, to create the definitive racing game experience. Introduces compelling and innovative gameplay through Five Ways to Play – Speed, Style, Build, Crew, and Outlaw. Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC. ESRB: T. MSRP: $69.99

NHL 16

Built with more fan feedback and insights than ever before, NHL 16 delivers your most requested features and modes along with new experiences that make NHL bigger and better. ESRB: E, MSRP: $59.99

Star Wars Battlefront

Feeling the ominous thud of an AT-AT stomping down on the frozen tundra of Hoth. Rebel forces firing blasters as Imperial speeder bikes zip through the lush forests of Endor. Intense dogfights between squadrons of X-wings and TIE fighters filling the skies. Immerse yourself in the epic Star Wars battles you’ve always dreamed of and create new heroic moments of your own in Star Wars Battlefront. ESRB: T, MSRP: $69.99

Project CARS

Represents the next-generation of racing simulation as the ultimate combination of fan desire and developer expertise. With a Franchise Mode that allows you to carve out a personalized career starting in the Karting world and then progressing on to whichever motorsport specialization you prefer. ESRB: E, MSRP: $39.99


Alvin.jpgAlvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip, PG, Comedy. In theaters: December 18, 2015
Through a series of misunderstandings, Alvin, Simon and Theodore come to believe that Dave is going to propose to his new girlfriend in Miami…and dump them.  They have three days to get to him and stop the proposal, saving themselves not only from losing Dave but possibly from gaining a terrible stepbrother. Starring Bella Thorne, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting and Anna Faris.

Bridge of Spies, PG-13, Biography, Drama, History. In Theaters Now
An American lawyer is recruited by the CIA during the Cold War to help rescue a pilot detained in the Soviet Union. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda and Amy Ryan.

Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27BmVO6QcCY

Brooklyn, PG-13, Drama, Romance. In theaters: November 6, 2015
In 1950s Ireland and New York, young Eilis Lacey has to choose between two men and two countries. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Brid Brennan, Maeve McGrath and Emma Lowe.

Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qk4kN22rPFc

Everest.jpgEverest, Biography. In Theaters Now
A climbing expedition on Mt. Everest is devastated by a severe snow storm. Starring Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Emily Watson and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWKSys0TSM0

Goosebumps, PG, Comedy, Adventure. In Theaters Now teenager teams up with the daughter of young adult horror author R. L. Stine after the writer’s imaginary demons are set free on the town of Madison, Delaware.

Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDRNZpFrKPE

Jem and the Holograms, PG, Adventure. In Theaters Now
As a small-town girl catapults from underground video sensation to global superstar, she and her three sisters begin a journey of discovering that some talents are too special to keep hidden. Starring Aubrey Peeples, Stefanie Scott and Aurora Perrineau

Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rT_Aep6FOw8

Joy, NR, Comedy-drama. In theaters: December 25, 2015
Joy is the story of a family across four generations and the woman who rises to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper.

spectre.jpgSpectre, Action, PG-13, Adventure. In theaters November 6, 2015
A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE. Starring Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Lea Seydoux.

Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTlzMvxzYfE

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, PG, Action, Adventure. In theaters December 28, 2015
A continuation of the saga created by George Lucas and set thirty years after Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983). Directed by J.J. Abrams, Starring Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Adam Driver.

The 33, PG-13, Drama. In theaters November 6, 2015
Based on the real-life event, when a gold and copper mine collapses, it traps 33 miners underground for 69 days. Starring Naomi Scott, Cote de Pablo, Kate del Castillo, James Brolin.
Video review:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXHDEXC7vZA

The Good Dinosaur, PG, Adventure, Comedy. In theaters: November 27, 2015
An epic journey into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend. Starring Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright, Steve Zahn and A.J. Buckley.

Interview with Michael O’Brien: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4giz2mEq4Gk

HungerGames.MJ.2_1.jpgThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, PG-13, Adventure, Sci-Fi. November 20, 2015
After being symbolized as the “Mockingjay”, Katniss Everdeen and District 13 engage in an all-out revolution against the autocratic Capitol. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth.

Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_P2s75F9Aa0

The Intern. PG-13,  Comedy. In Theaters now
70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin. Starring Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo and Anders Holm.

Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYTLqwheH8Q

The Martian, Adventure, PG-13, Drama. In Theaters now

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.

Video review: href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lJ8yNpc2A4

ThePeanuts.jpgThe Peanuts Movie, G, 3D Animation, In theaters: November 6, 2015
Snoopy embarks upon his greatest mission as he and his team take to the skies to pursue their arch-nemesis, while his best pal Charlie Brown begins his own epic quest back home. Starring Trombone Shorty, Rebecca Bloom amd Anastasia Bredikhina.

Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gP2hfqhLJgo


A Blanket Quite Rare

There once was a boy with a blanket quite rare that his mother had told him was made with great care.  It came on his birthday with colors so bright It made him feel happy all day and all night. Neptune Press. MSRP: $12

The Loneliest Treehttp://www.kidsfirst.org/detail/214181.html

Not very far from the big city is a very special farm. It’s special because it grows special trees…Christmas trees! The trees are able to stretch their graceful branches covered with needles and pine cones toward the sun as they grow taller and taller–all but one. Neptune Press. MSRP: $9.95

ShipShape.jpgShip Shape (Upton Charles – Dog Detective) http://www.kidsfirst.org/detail/214154.html

When the Chief of Police calls the Charles family to report that a brand new boat and trailer are missing  from the boat show, Upton is immediately recruited to apply his detective skills to the disappearance. Our super sleuth is a Bichon Frise (that’s “BEE-shon free-ZEY”), a little white dog, who  wastes no time in sniffing out clues that lead to a surprising discovery.  During the course of the investigation, Upton is joined by a new assistant. Neptune Press. MSRP: $7.99

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 – Nothing Can Prepare You For The End

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

HungerGames.MJ.2_1.jpgThis closing film to The Hunger Games trilogy shows Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion leading an army against President Snow. Her tragic journey finally comes to an end with this emotional finish. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Clayton P. comments, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is surprisingly more creative and suspenseful than all the prior films in the franchise.” See his full review below.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Clayton P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is surprisingly more creative and suspenseful than all the prior films in the franchise. However, there are a couple of things about the film that are not fantastic. I don’t think that Jennifer Lawrence does a great job in this film. It seems as if she was asleep throughout the movie. This film again stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen and Josh Hucherson as Peeta Mellark. They are supported by Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. The film is directed by Francis Lawrence, who directed all the Hunger Games films except the first.

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Brooklyn – Two Countries, Two Loves, One Heart

Thursday, November 12th, 2015


This romantic drama follows an Irish immigrant who lands in 1950s Brooklyn where she quickly falls into a new romance. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist in each. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mia A. comments, “Brooklyn is a romantic drama that I would watch again and again because of its heartfelt moments and the relationship between the characters. “ See her full review below.

By Mia A, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Brooklyn, directed by John Crowley, is a romantic drama that I would watch again and again because of its heartfelt moments and the relationship between the characters.

Brooklyn is about a girl named Eilis who lives in Ireland with her sister and mother and is going to America to find a better opportunity for work.  It is hard for her when she first moves to America because she grieves over leaving her family and is terribly homesick.  She falls madly in love in New York. Eilis returns to Ireland for a family crisis and she puts herself in a very complicated situation, making her wonder if she ever wants to leave Ireland again.

The acting in Brooklyn makes it realistic and a pleasure to watch.  The cast members are chosen very well and they play their parts with a lot of character and emotion.  My favorite character is Eilis, played by Irish American actress Saoirse Ronan.  She is a perfect Eilis because she is so believable which helps build the audience’s love for the story.  

I really felt the love between Tony and Eilis.  Tony, played by Emory Cohen, is sweet, funny, and sweeps Eilis off her feet when she is vulnerable and needing comfort the most.  Tony’s Italian heritage both attracts her and stretches her as a character.

The settings, scenery and costumes are appropriate for the time period of the 1950s and really captures the essence of wMia3.jpghat it life would have been like in Ireland and Brooklyn at that time.  The costumes are very realistic and transport the viewer to a different time and place.

My favorite scene is when two of her boarding school friends teach Eilis how to eat spaghetti properly in preparation for dinner with Tony’s Italian family.  This scene got many people in the audience laughing.

The moral to this story is that “home is home.”  We also see that home is where the heart is. Eilis loves both Ireland and America, and a gentleman in both places.  Which man and which home will she ultimately choose?

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars for the beautiful romance and the amazing settings.  I recommend this for ages 13 to 18.  Parents should be aware that there is some bad language and there is a sex scene that they might not want their younger kids to watch.

If you are a romance lover or looking for a cinema vacation, aka “cinecation”, then Brooklyn is just right for you!  Check out this movie on November 4th in theaters near you.

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The 33 – A Tragic Accident and a Heroic Rescue

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015


Five years ago, the world followed this tragic accident in an unknown small mining town in Chile where 33 miners were trapped 2000 feet below the surface. We have heard about this type of mining accident before but, what stood out here were the family members who never lost hope and set up camp near the mine to force the powers that be to pay attention and rescue their loved ones trapped below. We know how the story ends, how against all odds, after two months these miners emerged from their death trap. The miners were in the news again recently when they visited the Pope who celebrated the 5th anniversary of their rescue. This film brings their story into perspective and makes you feel their pain. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Harmony M. comments, “Watching this film made me feel the pain of the miners, the anxiety of the families and the stress of the rescue team. I could personally feel the struggle from every side of the story.” Lainey A. adds, “This movie is so suspenseful because it connects the audience to the characters and I did not want to see any of them die.” See their full review below.
The 33

By Harmony M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

With its empowering story, visuals and acting, this film brings another true survival story to life. A group of thirty three gold miners go to work in the underlying mountains of Chile when their lives quickly turn upside down. Stranded by the collapse of the rocks, the men are forced to work together, struggle for food, stay optimistic despite their life threatening condition. With every second so crucial, the intensity of the film leaves the audience on the edge of their seats.

Watching this film made me feel the pain of the miners, the anxiety of the families and the stress of the rescue team. I could personally feel the struggle from every side of the story. This is an amazing aspect of the film, especially because it is based on a true story. What better way to gain awareness than to make individuals feel the experience for themselves. I felt like throwing up throughout the whole movie and that just shows how amazingly the filmmakers depicted this horrifyingly true story of the innocent men who were stranded and their struggle to survive.

The filmmakers have created a film that makes the audience feel as though they are experiencing the struggle rather than just watching it. I felt as if I was starving and becoming dehydrated just by watching. It’s what makes the movie feel so real.

The persuasive acting contributes to the empowering movie, especially Antonio Banderas whose performance as the leader, Mario was so believable. It’s a role completely different from what he usually plays and he made me believe he was a Chilean miner.

Usually films based on tragic events feel depressing but this film feels empowering and comedic in certain scenes. I enjoyed that.  

The film didn’t make the best impression at first but, it became very engaging and strong towards the end. I give a lot of credit to its great ending because, in my opinion, an ending can really make or break a movie.

I give the movie four out of five stars and recommend it for people between the ages of 13 and 18. Adults will enjoy it as well. Check this film out in theaters today.

The 33
By Lainey A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

This live-action feature film directed by the Patricia Riggen is truly inspirational and I love it!  The 33 is based on the true story of the 2010 Chilean San Jose mine collapse and the 33 miners trapped 2,300 feet below ground.  This movie is so suspenseful because it connects the audience to the characters and I did not want to see any of them die. 

This movie taught me that you should be hopeful and not think the worst even when it seems hopeless.  The miners kept up hope that they are going to be rescued even though they only have 14 cans of tuna to split between them for an unknown period of time.  This film also shows the importance of team-work because, without it, they would  all perish.

Antonio Banderas really steps out of his typical roles and his rendition of Mario Sepulveda is truly outstanding!  He really transforms into a Chilean miner and he is a true leader among the miners.  Another stand out actor is Rodrigo Santoro who plays Laurence Golborne, Minister of Mining for the Chilean President. He is caring, loving and compassionate and does an outstanding job making me believe that he really cares about these men trapped in the mine.  He does everything in his power to make sure that the miners stay alive and pulls together mining teams from across the world to drill into the ground in hopes of saving the miners.  Josh Brolin plays the role of Jeff Hart, one of the miners sent from the U.S.A. who eventually succeeds in drilling a hole large enough to send in a body cage for the miners.

The target audience for this film is anyone who enjoys adventure and suspenseful movies.  I recommend this movie for ages 10 to 18 because this isn’t gory or a violent movie, but it is suspenseful.  This movie is good for kids because it makes you learn what the lifestyle of a miner in Chile is like. Everyday, they face life or death situations such as this one.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars because it made me feel like I was there every step of the way.  As the miners said, “All we have is family.”  The love of family, teamwork and hope brought these 33 men back from the depths of despair.  You will be cheering from your seat! Come see this outstanding film when it opens nationwide on November 14! 

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