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Snoopy Presents: To Mom (And Dad), With Love *  Funny, Heartwarming Animated Film About How Not Every Family Is The Same

Saturday, May 7th, 2022

This short film tells the story of Peppermint Patty. All the other kids are excited to celebrate the special day, Mother’s Day. But Peppermint Patty never had a mother, so she decides to celebrate her father instead since he does mother things.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Samantha P. comments, “To Mom (and Dad), with Love is a funny and heartwarming animated film about different types of families and how not every family is the same. This 40-minute story featuring the much-loved Peanuts gang appeals to all ages  — old and new fans alike – and will pull you in with its bright colors and sweet storyline.” See her full review below.

Snoops Presents: To Mom (And Dad), With Love
By Samantha P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

To Mom (and Dad), with Love is a funny and heartwarming animated film about different types of families and how not every family is the same. This 40-minute story featuring the much-loved Peanuts gang appeals to all ages  — old and new fans alike – and will pull you in with its bright colors and sweet storyline. The film has an original point of view on Mother’s Day because the main protagonist, Peppermint Patty, doesn’t have a mom, though the reason isn’t specified. Audiences can only tell that she has a dad, who is very special to her.

The story of To Mom (and Dad), with Love jumps from character to character as each does something original for Mother’s Day. The main character, Peppermint Patty (voiced by Lexi Perri), has to find her own way to celebrate a holiday that has always been hard for her. By the end, Patty figures out how to celebrate her own unique family. This film shows almost every character celebrating Mother’s Day. Lucy (Isabella Leo) tries to make an art project; Charlie Brown (Tyler Nathan) and his sister, Sally (Hattie Kragten), experiment with a lot of ideas; and other characters, including Snoopy (Terry Mcgurrin) and Woodstock (Rob Tinkler) do something creative and unique for their families, too!

To Mom (and Dad), with Love has a theme of embracing differences and being yourself, as well as celebrating moms (and dads) and caretakers in whatever form they take.

I give To Mom (and Dad), with Love 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 14, plus adults. It releases on Apple TV May 6, 2022, just in time for Mother’s Day/Week! 

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It’s The Small Things, Charlie Brown * The Perfect Special To Galvanize Kids Into Climate Action This Earth Day

Friday, April 22nd, 2022

Sally’s bond with a special little flower on the baseball field may spell disaster for the big game. For Charlie Brown and the team, it’s just the inspiration they need to make a positive impact on their environment. It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown is the Peanuts Earth Day TV special which features an original song by American singer-songwriter Ben Folds, Tyler Nathan as Charlie Brown, Terry McGurrin as Snoopy, Hattie Kragten as Sally, Rob Tinkler as Woodstock, Lexi Perri as Peppermint, Patty Isabella Leo as Lucy van P.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Since 1965, the characters in Charles M. Schulz’s famous Peanuts comics have brought joy to so many families during the holidays and have also served to promote mature conversation among them… With a deep message and multilayered characters, It’s The Small Things, Charlie Brown is the perfect special to galvanize kids into climate action this Earth Day. Tiana S. adds, “Just in time for Earth Day, Charlie Brown and the gang are back with a special message about environmental protection and using your voice in a fun, yet educational way only the Peanuts gang can deliver! In the new short film, It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown, they are ready to plant flowers, and clean up trash to make our planet a better place.” Avalon N. wraps it up with, “In It’s The Small Things, Charlie Brown there are many fun things to talk about. One is the use of the old style Charlie Brown comics. Rather than use the new style of 3D animation, like some recent Charlie Brown movies, this film goes back to 2D style animation, although it still is very high quality and has cool animation.” See their full reviews below.

It’s The Small Things, Charlie Brown
By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Since 1965, the characters in Charles M. Schulz’s famous Peanuts comics have brought joy to so many families during the holidays and have also served to promote mature conversation among them. Not much has changed in 2022, as Craig and Bryan Schulz bring the new Earth Day special It’s The Small Things, Charlie Brown to Apple TV+. With a deep message and multilayered characters, It’s The Small Things, Charlie Brown is the perfect special to galvanize kids into climate action this Earth Day.

In this short filmCharlie Brown (Tyler Nathan) is determined to help his team win the big baseball game against Peppermint Patty’s (Lexi Perri) team so he can claim the neighborhood pennant. But things turn into a fiasco right before the game when Sally (Hattie Kragten) bonds with a flower on the pitcher’s mound and vows to protect it at all costs. Charlie Brown tries his hardest to get her off the mound but repeatedly fails. Throughout her sit-in, all the characters learn to value nature.

What I find intriguing about this special is that it’s one big metaphor; Charlie Brown represents the average person, and the ball field represents the planet. Charlie Brown is so obsessed with winning this ballgame that he doesn’t see that the ball field is going downhill. Sally represents the new generation, whose focus is on conservation and enhancing the planet.

The animation style of this special is the part of the production that stands out the most to me. It is somewhere between the 70s still-frame animation and The Peanuts Movie. In each scene, the lighting is manipulated to make the characters look more lifelike and three-dimensional. It’s absolutely beautiful. Though Snoopy (Terry McGurrin) isn’t the focus of the special, I still love how his character develops throughout the 38 minute short. By the end of the film, he too realizes how important it is to save the environment. For kids like me who love Snoopy even more than Charlie Brown, this sends a great message. I’m also a big fan of Tyler Nathan as Charlie Brown and Hattie Kragten as Sally; their voice acting really completes the package of the show and makes the plot more believable.

It’s The Small Things, Charlie Brown promotes taking initiative, caring for others (whether people, animals or plants), saving our planet and serving as a positive role model for others.

I give It’s The Small Things, Charlie Brown 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It’s The Small Things, Charlie Brown is available to stream now on Apple TV+ in celebration of Earth Day 2022.

It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown
By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Just in time for Earth Day, Charlie Brown and the gang are back with a special message about environmental protection and using your voice in a fun, yet educational way only the Peanuts gang can deliver! In the new short film, It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown, they are ready to plant flowers, and clean up trash to make our planet a better place. Everyone loves the Peanuts gang, so what better way to spread the message?

In It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown, the main characters in this short film are Sally Brown (Hattie Kragten) and Charlie Brown (Tyler Nathan). In the story, Charlie Brown just wants to play a baseball game, but his little sister, Sally, finds a special little flower on the baseball field that reminds her of herself. She decides she must protect this flower and give it a voice. Sally relates to the flower because she is also small and tends to be lonely and ignored. It is a nice touch that the flower’s petals are the same color and shape as Sally’s hair.

The film has updates to the animation techniques, but still gives us the look and feel of the original animation we’ve come to love. I love the diverse cast and how it reflects what our world looks like today. One of my favorite parts is when Ben Folds’ original song, “It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown,” plays as Sally is singing about the flower on the mound. It really breaks down how we are all connected to the Earth and can come together to make things happen.  

It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown shows us how important and easy it is to take care of our planet, no matter how young or small you are. Even though Sally was told she was too small to play baseball, she wasn’t too small to take a stand to try to help protect and save the flower, which represents the Earth. Sally was able to use her voice to show how we should speak up to help save the world.

The Peanuts world is known for creating content that prompts conversations for adults and that also inspires young people, and this film does just that. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 3 to 18, plus adults. You can watch It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown on Apple TV+ now!

It’s The Small Things, Charlie Brown 
By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

It’s The Small Things, Charlie Brown is a funny, inspirational and entertaining movie. Though it’s only 40 minutes long it really embodies the classic Charlie Brown spirit.

This film is about Charlie Brown (Tyler James Nathan). There is a big baseball game between Charlie’s team and Peppermint Patty’s (Lexi Perri) – a championship. Unfortunately, Sally (Hattie Kragten) grows attached to a flower on the pitcher’s mound, preventing the game from happening. In the film, we find out what Charlie Brown does about this.

In It’s The Small Things, Charlie Brown there are many fun things to talk about. One is the use of the old style Charlie Brown comics. Rather than use the new style of 3D animation, like some recent Charlie Brown movies, this film goes back to 2D style animation, although it still is very high quality and has cool animation. Another thing is the use of words during the practicing baseball scene. When they hit the ball there is a fun “POP!” animation on the screen and it really caught my eye and kept my attention. Lastly, there is a really fun song about how “It’s The Small Things” – hence the title. It is a really beautiful song about a dandelion and, while others consider it a weed, Sally promises to keep it safe. 

The message of the film is that sometimes it’s not about the thing, but the love you show for it.

I give It’s The Small Things, Charlie Brown 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 16, plus. It’s available on Apple TV+ now – just in time for Earth Day!

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The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder * Your Favorite Spunky, Loving, Humorous Family Are Back

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2022

The series follows the story of Penny Proud, a 14-year-old girl and her family, as they navigate their lives in the 2020s. Trudy, Penny’s mom, has new career highs, Oscar, Penny’s dad, has wild dreams, and Penny faces a myriad of challenges while her Suga Mama returns, as does Michael, Dijonay, Zoey, and LaCienega.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic comments, “Your favorite spunky, loving, and humorous family are back – louder and prouder than ever – in the new series reboot of the 2001 Proud Family series, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder! From glow-ups to new adventures, to new characters, this show is sure to entertain new and original Proud Family fans!” See her full review and interviews with the show creators below.

The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder
By Tiana Sirmans, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Your favorite spunky, loving, and humorous family are back – louder and prouder than ever – in the new series reboot of the 2001 Proud Family series, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder! From glow-ups to new adventures, to new characters, this show is sure to entertain new and original Proud Family fans!

The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder follow 14-year-old Penny Proud (Kyla Pratt) as she tries to navigate through the 2020s with new challenges, technology, and social issues in Smithville. Of course, she is joined by her wild, yet relatable family members we have come to love — Oscar Proud (Tommy Davidson), Trudy Proud (Paula Jai Parker) and Suga Mama (Jo Marie Payton ). The creators of this series, Bruce W. Smith and writer, Ralph Farquhar, are the “proud parents” who delivered us both the Proud Family series and The Proud Family Movie, so you can expect the same laughable, adventurous, and exciting storytelling.

One of the best things about this series is that all the main characters and most of Penny’s friends have returned, but there are a few newcomers. Maya Leibowitz-Jenkins (KeKe Palmer) and her rapping brother Francis ‘KG’ Leibowitz-Jenkins have moved into the neighborhood. The interactions between Maya and Penny are a must-see as they both try to figure themselves (and each other) out. My favorite character in the series is Michael, who is now voiced by the bold, fierce, and stylish EJ Johnson, who plays a live-action unapologetic version of his character. He is the perfect person to voice Michael. I love how the characters have all grown, and yet their transformations all still make sense even after the show has been off-air all this time. 

The message of this series is that no one is perfect, and we are all works in progress. The Proud family and their friends are no different. In life, we are going to have different experiences, likes and dislikes, especially as kids grow older and develop in different ways. As a family and extended family, we must learn to grow and accept each other. There isn’t anything for parents to look out for, but you should know that real-life family, teen and societal issues are discussed and may initiate conversations with viewers.

I rate The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder series 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 10 to 18. You can stream it on Disney+ now with new episodes streaming every Wednesday.

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Alice’s Wonderland Bakery * Lovable Characters, Beautiful Locations, Classic Film Takeoff 

Sunday, February 20th, 2022

Alice’s Wonderland Bakery is a vibrant new take on the classic 1951 Alice in Wonderland film. Featuring reimagined (though instantly-recognizable) versions of iconic characters and introducing memorable new ones, the series highlights diverse cultures and characters as Alice and her friends learn about community through their adventures in the Wonderland Bakery. Wonderland is home to all sorts of unique families, each with their own fascinating cultures and traditions, which Alice and her friends learn about through their explorations with food. In this contemporary version, the royal family, for example, is inspired by Cuban heritage, giving Alice and her friends the chance to discover buñuelos and huevos habañeros, among other Cuban-inspired treats, while Hattie, a mad hatter boy and descendant of the original Mad Hatter, is based on Japanese culture and whips up mochi and sekihan with his family.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Heather S., comments, “Alice’s Wonderland Bakery is absolutely magnificent! Lovable characters, beautiful locations and references to a classic film take center stage in this excellent show.” See her full review and interview with Libby Rue below.

Alice’s Wonderland Bakery

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Alice’s Wonderland Bakery is absolutely magnificent! Lovable characters, beautiful locations and references to a classic film take center stage in this excellent show. Fans of all ages are bound to love this series.

Alice’s Wonderland Bakery follows Alice (Libby Rue) who is a young baker in the world of Wonderland. Alice goes on several adventures with her friends, Hattie (Cj Uy) and Fergie (Jack Stanton). The trio resemble the personalities of their ancestors, Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the White Rabbit from the classic tale Alice in Wonderland.

The series has such fun-loving characters, each a “rockstar” in their own right, with vivid  personalities and a developed character arc. Even though they mirror iconic characters from the classic Alice in Wonderland, they are not carbon copies—that means some refreshing twists as we see these new kids grow and learn their way around this topsy turvy town. Alice is a bright, spunky, and modern version of Alice from the 1951 film. My favorite character is definitely Hattie—he’s very fun to watch—not always fitting the stereotype of what a “Mad Hatter” is, growing into his own, but proud of his heritage.

The songs on the soundtrack to the series move the storylines along perfectly—no doubt sure to be a hit, with young children soon to be bopping along to the melodies. The animation is spectacular—every strand of hair is visible on Alice’s head just like the fur on Fergie. The visuals of bright colors, abstract patterns and unusual architecture add to the world building of the Wonderland that fans all around the world are familiar with. It’s as if the show picks up with Alice exactly where the movie left off in 1951 and nothing since has changed. This series is perfect, reminding fans why they fell in love with the original film, engaging audiences to watch every last second of every episode.

The theme of Alice’s Wonderland Bakery is to follow your dreams. Alice loves baking with her whole heart and is regarded as the best baker in Wonderland. Even as things don’t go her way all the time, Alice never gives up baking, and sometimes solves her problems by baking delicious cakes.

I give Alice’s Wonderland Bakery 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 12, and older. It premieres February 9, 2022 on Disney Junior.

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The Smartest Kids in the World * Captures Stories of Teen Seeking Better Educational Opportunities

Monday, September 13th, 2021

Based on Amanda Ripley’s New York Times bestseller, The Smartest Kids in the World chronicles a year abroad with four American teenagers, who study in countries that dramatically outperform the United States in education. We travel with them as they adjust from their local high schools in Wyoming, Orlando, Maine and The Bronx to high schools in Finland, South Korea, Switzerland and the Netherlands The film gives voice to students, hearing first-hand their discoveries and insight about how to reform U.S. high school education.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Rosemary K. comments, “I thoroughly enjoyed The Smartest Kids in the World and highly recommend it for everyone, especially students. Documentaries don’t usually interest me that much, but this movie, based on the New York Times bestseller by Amanda Ripley, captivated me with its themes and landscapes.” Rosabella P. adds, “This film captures the integrity and bravery among these teens. Our younger generation needs to learn more about the difference between learning in the USA verses learning abroad.” See their reviews and interview with one of the students, Simone Hassan-Bey below.

The Smartest Kids in the World
By Rosemary K, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

I thoroughly enjoyed The Smartest Kids in the World and highly recommend it for everyone, especially students. Documentaries don’t usually interest me that much, but this movie, based on the New York Times bestseller by Amanda Ripley, captivated me with its themes and landscapes.

The Smartest Kids in the World is a full-length documentary directed by Tracy Droz Tragos following four different U.S. students (Simone, Jaxon, Brittany and Sadie) as they travel for a year to different countries as exchange students. It focuses on different methods used in each country that makes students perform higher on tests. We learn what we should be doing differently in the United States and what other countries are doing great in terms of education.

Along with a storyline that captivates you and shows that it’s not always that easy to adapt to new places, this film, while showing the hard work of the students, also has many fun and relaxing parts that balance out the kids’ time while abroad. There are lots of beautiful landscape shots and calm music. All of this adds to the peaceful feeling you get from the movie, even though school can sometimes be quite the opposite of that. I really enjoyed seeing all of the students’ journeys and, although they aren’t acting, their on-camera appearances show the insights they gain along with their stories, accomplishments and comparisons of life abroad to life at home. One thing that is lacking is that it falls short in giving specific ideas of how to improve U.S. education. It does show what our schools are doing wrong it only touches on how to improve education in our country.   

The message in this film is that the U.S. is often thought of as a perfect country, but in lots of areas, including education, this is not true. The students in this film found that the schools in other countries actually offer a range of more challenging, hands on, more choice-driven, even less stressful education – all of which contribute to higher test scores, higher education levels and higher graduation rates. We would benefit from looking beyond our boundaries to see how we can improve our educational system.

I give The Smartest Kids in the World 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It begins streaming exclusively on Discovery+ August 19, 2021.

The Smartest Kids In The World
By Rosabella P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

I enjoyed watching the film, The Smartest Kids In The World because it shows teenagers traveling to different colleges and high schools to figure out what education platform is better. Its view on education in the USA is a bit discouraging.

Inspired by the book by the same name, this documentary follows a group of teens that go to non-behavioral schools. Produced by award-winning filmmaker Tracy Droz Tragos, it follows four American teenagers that travel to four different countries for one school year in search of a better education for themselves. 

We see how the kids have to learn new languages to get into these various schools and to make friends. All of their traveling about to find a better education is inspiring. I found it discouraging that the kids had to go outside the US in search of better schools when it seems that they should have been able to get good education in their own country. They traveled long distances and experienced many hardships in order to find a good school that would challenge their minds academically. We see that Pennsylvania schools don’t offer the best educational experiences.

One student, Tracy Droz Tragos expressed the difference between rich and poor schools. Some students attended school in Switzerland, others attended schools in South Korea and elsewhere. The main characters are both interesting and disappointing. They are taking their future into their own hands and charging out into the world. During their adventures they are learning from one another, which is inspiring. The film doesn’t show us how change can happen in US schools, but it points out how desperately it is needed. 

This film captures the integrity and bravery among these teens. Our younger generation needs to learn more about the difference between learning in the USA verses learning abroad. 

I rate The Smartest Kids In The World 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. It begins streaming exclusively on Discovery+ August 19, 2021.

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