Film Festivals | Movie Reviews | Submit a Title | Jurors | About Us | Contact Us | Home

The Newsstand - KIDS FIRST!® News 2006


Go to the KIDS FIRST!® Home Page

The Newsstand

Christine Pollock, Newsletter Editor

"Like the resource it seeks to protect, wildlife conservation must be dynamic, changing as conditions change, seeking always to become more effective." - Rachel Carson (author of Silent Spring)

Subscribe to our monthly E-Zine to stay up to date on KIDS FIRST!® initiatives. - FREE -

Your e-mail address:


Turning your TV Time into Quality Time
November 21, 2006 Issue #11b
Christine L. Pollock, Editor
Ranny Levy, Publisher

1. Letters from the Editor and President and Readers' Anecdotes
2. Web Store Features
4. New Endorsements
5. Festival Titles
6. New Members/Renewing Members
7. Member News
8. Media News
9. Family and Parenting News
10. Teens Face An Inconvenient Truth by Christine L. Pollock
11. Crafts and Activities: Work and Play by Dr. Toy and Placemats with a Twist
12. Festival City Schedule and Events
13. Special Offers
* Permission to forward or reprint the content herein is granted with complete attribution.


The Secret of Success - An Inside Scoop from Successful Actors (Mary Maitlyn Mouser and Alicin Lohman)

KIDS FIRST!® Best Awards Nominees - Student Producers


thousands of great travel deals at KIDS FIRST! Travel

Become an Affiliate of the
KIDS FIRST!® Web Store

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
2006 Jan 3 / Jan 18 / Feb 7 / Feb 21 / Mar 14/ Mar 28 / Apr 4 / Apr 25 / May 2/ May 16/ June 6 /June 27/ July 4 / July 18 / Aug 1 / Aug 15 / Sept 5 / Sept 19 / Oct 3 / Oct 17/ Nov 7

Links to newsletters from 2005 or earlier
may be found at the bottom of this page

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

Dear Friends,

Happy Thanksgiving! As we brace ourselves for the onslaught of holiday mayhem, it's good to take a moment to sit back and think of all the wonderful things that happened in the past year. I am so thankful for my family and friends; my fabulous coworkers; the opportunity to work for an organization whose mission I strongly believe in; the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people in the media and juror world; and the opportunity to electronically "meet" many of you readers. I love hearing from you.

In our last issue I asked if any of you had stories to share about ways media has impacted children in your life (your own children, grandchildren, students, neighbors). One of our readers sent in the anecdote below, Please feel free to send in your own stories.

I've got another story about my own boys. On a rainy Sunday a few weeks ago we rented Akeelah and the Bee. While this is a KIDS FIRST!® title, we were not the jurors selected for this particular title. I knew it was good since it won a KIDS FIRST!® Best of Fest award, and I was looking forward to viewing it for fun. It was so inspirational. We actually had to stop and rewind a few times because we missed some words while my seven-year-old was spelling things out loud. Right after the movie ended, my seven-year-old and my ten-year-old both went off to find notebooks so they could jot down words that interested them and learn how to spell them. A mother's dream.

As always, I welcome your input. If you have comments on titles we have endorsed; notices of media awards, publications, and products; or suggestions for articles, please drop me a line.

Christine Pollock, Editor

Dear Readers,

News in the world of children's media brought mixed blessings this weekend. First, we learned the UK announced last Friday that, after a multi-year look at food advertising to children, their regulatory agency Ofcom is banning all television advertising of junk food to children under the age of 16 and banning the use of celebrities, characters, promotional claims, and health or nutrition claims on the same. This is big news. You can view the research that led to this monumental decision at

Then, there was the shattering news about violence related to the new release of PlayStation 3 last Friday. Consumers waited in long lines, some camping out for days, not knowing if they'd walk away empty-handed or not for the mere 400,000 units available nationwide. Some crowds reportedly got rowdy and stampeded. In Connecticut, armed robbers preyed on a line of people waiting outside a Wal-Mart store in the wee hours of the morning and shot one man, proving that unnecessary videogame violence isn't limited to what's on-screen.

Much to everyone's surprise, the new CG-animated "Happy Feet" surpassed the release of "Casino Royale" this weekend with $42.3 million in box office revenue surpassing the $40.6 million that the new 007 film generated. Is there any question about the audience for G-rated films?

From everyone at KIDS FIRST!, we send you our best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving. As you prepare to celebrate this holiday with your friends and family, here's a reminder to take time to remember all the things you have to be thankful for. This national holiday reminds us to thank those around us who contribute to and bless our lives. Let's all remember to take the time to say 'thank you' to these people sometime this week. It takes such little effort, and means so much.

As you make plans for your holiday season, remember KIDS FIRST! You can contribute to our non-profit by simply purchasing one of the great independent DVDs that we offer in our KIDS FIRST! web store. If you're traveling this holiday season or someone is traveling to visit you, book your airfare or hotel through our online travel service, We're proud to be associated with YTB Travel which uses the Travelocity search engine. When you book with KIDS FIRST! travel, you'll find the same discounted travel rates that you find at Travelocity, but you're making a donation to KIDS FIRST! at the same time. And, it doesn't cost you a nickel more.

Thanks for your ongoing support.

Much love,

Ranny Levy
Founder and President, KIDS FIRST!®


Reader Anecdotes

Kid’s Don’t Forget----Remember That. My son, a junior in college, called to ask if I still had my Halloween Costume box. Being the perfect squirrel—I did. And what he remembered and wanted was his Blue Footed Booby Costume. I had the most important part- the blue webbed feet I made to velcro over shoes. (Flash back to grade school -- the reason for such an odd costume was because I had been inspired by a trip to the Galapagos and a program we did for Rand McNally - Exploring the Galapagos Islands. ) For him, the rest was simple, he “good willed” a brimmed hat which he trimmed to beak shape and had the perfect T-shirt for glue-gunned feathers. Oddly enough he had the same problem he had in grade school---Character ID. Some didn't know they existed. But had a lot of fun with it none the less. - Liz


Congratulations to our new graduate, Elizabeth O' Connell!

Elizabeth O’Connell is an award winning producer and editor with over 25 years of program development for Discovery Channel, PBS and Rand McNally. In 1988, her first children’s program “The Friendly Gray Whales” won a silver apple. Nature and Natural History programs evolved easily from her Alaska surroundings where she lived for over 15 years. Her most recent program “Alaska’s Coolest Bird’s” is also a children’s program narrated by an enthusiastic 6-year-old. Check out to learn about more of her programs.


Concerned about what kids watch? Want to do something about it? Become a KIDS FIRST!® juror. It's easy. Take our online training. It will take you about four hours to complete and we will provide you with your own personal trainer. The $40 fee is 100% reimbursable once you evaluate six titles for KIDS FIRST!® . You may keep any movie you approve. What a wonderful way for teachers, librarians, parents, and daycare providers to build their own quality media library while helping evaluate movies for others. KIDS FIRST! Independent Producer members get an additional benefit of one waived submission fee, once they complete the training and evaluate their first 6 titles. To register or get more information, please visit our KIDS FIRST!® juror's page.



The Big Aquarium. Visit the largest freshwater aquarium in the world in Chattanooga, TN. Shows hundreds of fish and animals from various habitats, divers feeding fish and looks behind-the-scenes at the control center, the veterinarian and the research lab. DVD. 48 min.; $14.95; Age: 5-8. Little Mammoth Media.





Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Can Type and More Fun on the Farm. Country superstar, Randy Travis, narrates the title tale about a barnyard mutiny on Farmer Brown's farm. Cows that type? Hens that strike? Be sure to pack your funny bone for a hilarious trip to the farm. Adapted from the Caldecott Honor Book. Spanish track. DVD. 52 min.; $9.95; Age: 2-5. New Video Group, Inc.





Groms: Surf. Almost entirely shot on the north shore of Oahu, the film showcases extremely talented young surfers - tomorrow's pros. These groms range in ages from 11-16, so if you think you have seen groms before, it is important for you to clear your thoughts, and have an opportunity to really see these surfers take command of the Northshore. Clay Marzo, a surfer from Maui, and coveted Governor's Cup at the mere age of 15, is captured in the film surfing Rockpile on a stormy intimidating day without fear! The film also showcases: Granger Larsen, Bethany Hamilton, Alana Blanchard, Kiron Jabour, Tyler Newton, Ezekial Lau, Evan Geiselman, Albee Layer, Dylan Southworth and Ashley Hunter. DVD. 36 min.; $9.95; Age: 8-18. El Porto Productions.



My Baby Can Talk: First Signs. A series of videos that bridges the gap between the time a baby can communicate with his or her hands and the time a baby can speak. By giving parents and babies the ability to communicate without words, these videos reduce frustration and encourage rewarding interactions. DVD. 45 min.; $15.96; Age: infant -- 3. Baby Hands Productions.

YogaKids. Now you can share a fun, safe and healthy activity with your kids - one that can be enjoyed over and over again. In YogaKids, your children will learn simple yoga exercises work to strengthen their bodies and improve coordination. They'll playfully stretch like dogs, roar like lions, and stand like graceful flamingos. As they complete each new yoga pose, they'll gain a new feeling of accomplishment. Guided by longtime kids yoga teacher Marsha Wenig, YogaKids is the most creative and entertaining way to bring the joy of exercise and the wonder of all living things to children. Whether it is practiced indoors, outside, alone or with family, this magical experience will become one of your child's most treasured activities. DVD. 30 min.; $8.95; Age: 3-6. Living Arts.



More New Endorsements can be found at

*** = Titles receiving the highest scores are given a three-star rating.
** = Titles 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 receive a one-star rating.

Video/DVD-Ages 3-6

** Bumblz: The Pirate's Treasure. The Bumblz gang finds a treasure map and goes off in search of the lost Treasure of Long Beard III. Will they find the treasure, and if so, what will it be? Gold? Silver? Jewels? KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments: Cute, colorful, lots of engaging music. Clear presentation, simple animation. When the gang gets lost, they discover they've read the map upside down and that the letter N represents north. That discussion is beyond the comprehension of younger preschoolers. There is a camaraderie among the characters whose teamwork is exemplary. KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments: Enjoyed it, stayed attentive throughout."I liked the songs." The waterfall scene and the pirates seemed to catch their attention."The waterfall was scary, but I wasn't scared." Many asked to watch it again. The music videos were a big hit as well. Ages 3-6. Bumblz Media.

Video/DVD-Ages 7-12

** The Happy Cricket. Christopher, the Happy Cricket, must face the bad guys who hate music and are determined to rule his world, but Christopher and his cute, adorable friends, will have to defeat Wartlord and rescue the Night Star. This film celebrates the values of friendship, freedom and the defense of nature. KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments: Top notch animation with a happy, entertaining story. Good messages about friendship and taking care of the environment. But delivers some negative behaviors such as: the Mom eats the baby's food and the baby starts crying, the evil guy calls his enemies stupid, and his enemies retort, "We'll use your guitar and hit him on the head." Music is pleasant, animation intriguing. Perhaps because it's a Brazilian production, some of the translations into English make for lack of clarity in the storytelling. KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments: Mixed responses. One seven-year-old said,"It was great! I liked the guitar and the happy cricket." The bad guys are mean. The giant slingshot up to the moon is unsafe but not something that kids would try to imitate. The guitar is really cool."I Liked the backgrounds." "I liked the music a lot. It is what the movie is all about - the sound of music." Ages 6-10. Clever Image, Inc.


Video/DVD-Ages 8-18

*** After School Chinese: Mandarin Chinese Level 1. This all-inclusive language course utilizing authentic content and proven methodology will have children speaking Chinese at the very first lesson. The course encourages and engages children to explore the Chinese language and culture filmed in China. KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments: Excellent program. Very well designed. Right away, you get it. This program is very comprehensive, makes good use of repetition. Each word or phrase is spoken by both a man and a woman which helps viewers hear how the pronunciation might vary slightly. Designed to be used by persons who know nothing about the Chinese language."I would definitely recommend this to someone who is serious about learning Chinese." KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments: We tested this with Chinese speakers as well as non-Chinese speakers. Chinese speakers thought it was simplified and easy to understand. Non-Chinese speakers were definitely challenged but, by the end of the first lesson, they were indeed speaking Chinese."It is so different from English or Spanish. I thought it would be easier." Our jurors did not get through the entire program, due to its length and complexity, but they definitely got a lot out of the portion they did complete. Ages 8-18. Master Communications.

For a complete list of all Festival titles currently being shown, visit our website.

Cyberchase: Designing Mr. Perfect. L. 30 min.
Danica McKellar is Wanda, The Wicked Witch's talking wand, in "Designing Mr.Perfect." When she can't find Mr. Perfect, The Wicked Witch sets out to design him and turns a frog into Prince Charming. However, Wicked transforms Digit instead. Wanda secretly alerts the CyberSquad. Can they rescue him before it's too late?



Go Diego Go: Diego Saves Christmas. L. 98 min."Diego Saves Christmas" will be a day/date release, the third DVD/VHS title for the Diego property. This release contains 4 New-to-DVD episodes, two main two bonus episodes. Ages. 5-12.




Strawberry Shortcake: Cooking Up Fun. L. 45 min. Includes two episodes: "Baby Takes The Cake" - Apple Dumplin' wants to help Strawberry & her friends with baking, but Dumplin's just too little to be much help."Piece of Cake!" - At the urging of Honey Pie Pony, Strawberry & Friends decide to put on a Cooking Show. Ginger Snap invents a version of TV, which she calls Berryvision, to broadcast the show all over Strawberryland. Ages 3-8.



Cyberchase: A Clean Sweep. L. 30 min.
The kids and Digit invent a giant vacuum to foil a dastardly scheme of Hacker's."A Clean Sweep" highlights the role of trial and error in inventing and how failure often precedes success. Ages 5-12.



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

Big Idea, Inc. produces VeggieTales and 3-2-1 Penguins DVDs, CDs, games, books, and other licensed items for children.

Braincandy creates award winning developmental DVD's, music CD's, books and toys all designed to help very young children learn to think more creatively and independently.

Gorilla Pictures is a motion picture company which produces, finances and distributes films for the International marketplace. The Gorilla Team has a diverse set of talents enabling them to assemble top stars and stories of high appeal to audiences globally.

Image Factory is an amazing new teaching system designed to ease language-learning while nurturing a positive, fun-to-learn environment for your child. Currently, "My Best English" videos are shown in the classrooms at several public elementary schools as well as at many preschools in southern California.

Little Notes Unlimited provides audio CDs that preschools, daycares, kindergartens, and parents will find extremely useful in teaching family values to young children.


Eloise: Little Miss Christmas
Premieres on December 2 at 3:15p on the Starz Kids channel, followed by The Happy Elf, the animated special featuring Harry Connick as the narrator. Christmas Eve/Day marathon 6p movies include: Little Miss Christmas, The Happy Elf, Christmas with the Kranks, Must be Santa, I'll be Home for Christmas among others.




Big Idea Releases Spanish Language VeggieTales DVDs
Gideon: Tuba Warrior and Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Samson's Hairbrush will be released on December 1 in Spanish. Big Idea is developing local outreach events to bring the VeggieTales characters to Hispanic neighborhoods, a Spanish-language webpage including interactive games, parenting tools and an in-language VeggieGram monthly e-newsletter, in addition to a national live tour. Big Idea also plans to customize the existing 27 VeggieTales titles and bonus content for Hispanic audiences.




The on-air, online destination created entirely for early elementary school kids, is featuring more new stunts, new programming and new online content to empower early elementary school kids to discover themselves, define the diverse world around them and embrace a love of learning.

Smoking + Media + Kids = Support for Proposition 86
From Common Sense Media: Proposition 86 will increase the California tobacco tax. The funding will help ensure that every child under age 19 has access to affordable health insurance. Onscreen smoking in movies influences more U.S. teens to begin lighting up than any other kind of tobacco promotion, putting hundreds of thousands of kids at risk for disease and death. Since three out of four PG-13 movies have smoking in them, the least we can do is find a way to pay for the health care of those who will be affected.
Check out this stunning movie.


Friend Day on PBS KIDS
On Friday November 24, PBS KIDS is celebrating friendship with two-hours of themed preschool programming and online games for kids, as well as resources for parents to extend their child’s learning beyond the screen.

National Games Week
More groups, educators and individual game players will be involved than than ever before. That's no small thing, as last year 4,437 events occurred with nearly 119,000 people playing together and having fun. For more information, check out


Teens Face An Inconvenient Truth by Christine L. Pollock

"Global Warming Isolates Canadians in Far North" . . ."Warming 'May Cause Economic Chaos'." These dire threats and others like them flash across my computer screen as I check out my daily news. It might be cutting edge news today, but I already knew those facts from the KIDS FIRST!® Film Festival title, An Inconvenient Truth. The critically acclaimed documentary based on former Vice President Al Gore's presentation on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, arrives on DVD November 21, 2006 from Paramount Home Entertainment. And why is a part of our film festival? Because teens are smart.

They are old enough to realize that the controversial graphic scenes showing devastation and death are not there for hype. The scenes are there to prove a point. Teens can recognize that earth as we know it is in deep trouble, and as a global team, we need to address the issue of global warming. Teens have the brains and innovation and energy to make changes. They also know how to question whether global warming is truth or fallacy. This film proves it is truth. According to Eric Steig, an isotope geochemist at the University of Washington in Seattle, the film handles the science "Admirably…it is remarkably up to date, with reference to some of the very latest research." This film eloquently weaves the science of global warming with Al Gore's personal history and lifelong commitment to reversing the effects of global climate change. Every human, from child to adult; from trailer in the backwoods to the mansion on the hill can contribute to the reversal of global warming. And, yes, according to Gore, it is reversible. We do not need to listen to the doomsayers on the street corners who tell us it is too late. After decades of doubt, scientists and media heralding global warming are finally getting their voices heard. The world is starting to wake up.

The United Nations just held an international summit to tackle global warming earlier this month. Gore offers suggestions such as recycling, unplugging appliances not in use and changing lightbulbs to more energy-efficient ones. The website,, has several pages of ways you can make your own personal impact on global warming. If you are a teen inspired to make a difference, one way you can help is by writing a letter to your politicians. Carpool to events with your friends. Learn to use work materials sparingly and wisely. This is demonstrated in details such as the packaging of An Inconvenient Truth as it hits the stores. The DVD will be packaged with no excess materials, so as to make the smallest environmental footprint possible. Packaging will include 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper, inks and coatings formulated to emit virtually no volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere, no inserts, no laminates and no plastic. The package was manufactured by Ivy Hill. The back of the DVD package will direct teachers to where a free downloadable educational guide will be available. Paramount, Gore and festivals like KIDS FIRST!® partner together to get the message across that it is not too late to change the damage caused by humans. We just need to think about every step we take. And we know the teens at the festivals are smart enough to do turn the worm.


Dr. Toy's Tips on Use of Video by Stevanne Auerbach, PhD. /Dr.Toy Smart Play /Smart Toys (

Work and Play. The end of the school day often means a continuation of school in the form of homework and handling chores at home. It also means the beginning of play activities. In fact, play time can be a positive and constructive interlude and transition. You know how you feel at the end of a long day. Your child experiences the same need to unwind after a day spent working hard at school. Play together and have fun. It makes the holidays even more enjoyable. A KIDS FIRST!® title that might give you some ideas (and maybe even a holiday performance) is Magic Frank's: Magic 4 Fun With Everyday Objects.

Friendship Mats - Placemats with a Twist

Materials: Construction paper, markers/crayons, laminating paper (or access to lamination), scissors

For instructions, go to craft page.

KIDS FIRST!® Film Festival Schedule
Films from our KIDS FIRST! Film Festivals travel around the country where more than 100 local venues host screenings of them throughout the year. More than 10,000 screenings will take place in these venues annually. To find out what is being played in a venue near you, go to

Other Events

January 12-14: Memphis, Tennessee. Activists, media makers, educators, journalists, policymakers and concerned citizens will gather in Memphis this January to mobilize for better media. The National Conference for Media Reform, sponsored by Free Press, is for "anyone who is concerned about the state of our media and committed to working for change." This is an outstanding conference with top speakers, including Bill Moyers, Amy Goodman, Ben Bagdikian and others. Expect thousands of people committed to democracy and the need for a media system that supports rather than restricts free speech.

January 19: Hempstead, NY [Long Island]. Reclaim the First Amendment: A Conference on Constitutional Theories of Media Reform, co-sponsored by the Free Expression Policy Project of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and by conference host Hofstra University. Free and open to the public, reservations requested.


Through the combined efforts of Corporations for Character, KIDS FIRST!® , and your generous donation, we can fulfill our mission to provide positive, encouraging movies into each of more than one million children's hospital beds. This effort will provide entertainment for children while they are confined in a hospital. To support KIDS FIRST!® Cares, go to All credit card transactions are secure.

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 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 or KIDS FIRST!®.

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


This newsletter may be reprinted with permission.
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).
Coalition for Quality Children's Media, 112 W. San Francisco St. , Suite 305A, Santa Fe, NM 87501.

Subscribe to KIDS FIRST! free monthly e-zine for news and specials: