Up to date information about children's entertainment – film, TV, DVD and more…. from founder and president of KIDS FIRST! Ranny Levy

Archive for November, 2009

Holiday Safety Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

The holidays are an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday season, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Please feel free to excerpt these tips or use them in their entirety for any print or broadcast story, with acknowledgment of the source.

* When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.”

* When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.

* When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators or portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.

* Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.

* Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.


* Check all tree lights-even if you’ve just purchased them-before hanging them on your tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.

* Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.

* Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.

* Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.

* Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.


* Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals.

* Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.

* In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to prevent them from swallowing or inhaling small pieces. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.

* Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass “angel hair.” Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.

* Remove all wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These items can pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child or can cause a fire if near flame.

Toy Safety

* Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.

* Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully.

* To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don’t give young children (under age ten) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.

* Children under age three can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.

* Children can have serious stomach and intestinal problems – including death — after swallowing button batteries and magnets. Keep them away from young children and call your health care provider immediately if your child swallows one.

* Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons. Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.

* Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.

Food Safety

* Bacteria are often present in raw foods. Fully cook meats and poultry, and thoroughly wash raw vegetables and fruits.

* Be sure to keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of counters and tables, where they can be easily knocked over by a young child’s exploring hands.

* Wash your hands frequently, and make sure your children do the same.

* Never put a spoon used to taste food back into food without washing it.

* Always keep raw foods and cooked foods separately, and use separate utensils when preparing them.

* Always thaw meat in the refrigerator, never on the countertop.

* Foods that require refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours.

Happy Visiting

* Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.

* Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed. Keep an eye out for danger spots.

* Keep a list with all of the important phone numbers you or a baby-sitter are likely to need in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department, your pediatrician and the national Poison Help Line, 1-800-222-1222. Laminating the list will prevent it from being torn or damaged by accidental spills.

* Traveling, visiting family members, getting presents, shopping, etc., can all increase your child’s stress levels. Trying to stick to your child’s usual routines, including sleep schedules and timing of naps, can help you and your child enjoy the holidays and reduce stress.


* Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.

* Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.

* Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

2009 – American Academy of Pediatrics

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Warner offers trade in on 50 Blu-ray titles.

Friday, November 20th, 2009

People can trade in their standard definition DVD titles and get a Blu Ray version for more than 50 Warner Home Video catalogue titles. For as low as $7.95 (plus shipping), customers can trade upward.  To make the trade, consumers visit the Web site DVD2Blu.com, select their desired Blu-ray titles and mail in their standard DVD versions of the films. Warner promises to deliver the ordered Blu-ray titles within a short time frame. And, there’s free shipping for orders that are more than $25,
This program is similar to one that Warner launched last April in which consumers exchanged their dead-format HD DVD titles for a Blu-ray versions.  Obviously, Warner wants to boost the Blu-ray format, especially for catalog titles.

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Thursday, November 19th, 2009
PBS KIDS GO! and WNED-TV Buffalo/Toronto are partnering to launch the PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest, a national-local contest designed to promote the advancement of children’s reading skills through hands-on, active learning.  The Contest encourages children in grades K-3 in communities across the country, to celebrate the power of creating stories and illustrations by submitting their own original pieces.  

Beginning on January 27, 2010, PBS stations throughout the country will be active partners in the PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest, and will work with schools, public libraries and other literacy organizations to implement the Contest in their communities. Children will be encouraged to write and illustrate stories and submit them to their local stations, which will select winners and award prizes.  Local winners will be entered into the national level of the Contest where a renowned panel of judges will identify the national winners.  Winners will be announced and national prizes, including laptops, digital cameras and MP3 players will be awarded in summer 2010. 

In addition, a new PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest Web site at pbskids.org/read will launch in early 2010. As the information hub of the Contest, it will include the winning stories in each of the Contest categories as well as a searchable archive of winning stories.

“We know from research that there is an important connection between writing and the development of early literacy skills, critical cornerstones for school readiness and achievement,” said Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President, Children’s Media, PBS. “PBS KIDS uses the power of media to open up the worlds of letters and words for all young children, encouraging them to explore ways to communicate more effectively and increasing their odds of success.”

The PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest extends the powerful tradition and annual success of the 15-year national “Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest,” originally created by WNED-TV Buffalo/Toronto and NET Nebraska.

“WNED is proud to continue its leadership role in literacy for public television through the PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest,” said WNED President and CEO Donald K. Boswell.  “Building on the important legacy of Reading Rainbow, this new contest ushers the powerful mission of our programs directly into the homes and classrooms of the community, motivating young students to create and imagine.”

The PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest is a part of PBS KIDS Raising Readers, a national initiative which uses the power of public media to build the reading skills of children ages 2-to-8, with an emphasis on children from low-income families.  The effort is funded by a Ready To Learn grant from the U.S. Department of Education, part of a cooperative agreement with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), PBS and The Ready To Learn Partnership. 

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Pahappahooey Island: Do it Afraid – Coming to DVD Nov. 17

Monday, November 16th, 2009
Hunting for treasure is always fun, but sometimes there’s a catch. This is what the Pahappahooey team discovers when they find out that they have to face their own fears in order to get keys that will release their treasure. Along the way they discover that each individual has a different type of fear and what might seem fun and silly to one person (like puppet shows) is actually terrifying to someone else. The friends support each other as much as possible until one faces her fear, which is being alone. Through this experience she is reminded that she is never really alone because her creator is always there with her. This DVD assists children in working through problems or emotional issues and promotes service to and compassion for others. “Do it Afraid” doesn’t offer the message that there fear is silly, but rather that facing fear actually offers you freedom from fear. The cinematography is exceptional with adorable puppets and bright, lush sets. The title uses humor appropriate for its intended audience.
Child Juror Comments: Loved it. It showed you that you could face your fears and it’s not so bad. “When they’re talking about the creator, I think they are talking about God.” I think my friends would love it because they would like the characters. It’s kind of funny like when the woodchuck blew up the raft then the penguin said, “Hey, I found a raft!” Then the frog asked the woodchuck why he was out of breath. The voices were good. It looked pretty realistic for puppets, but sometimes you could see strings. That surprises you because they seem so real. Amazon
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Egon & Donci comes out on DVD on November 17

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

This new KIDS FIRST! endorsed feature from Strang Releasing features two characters who live on an idyllic, little planet in a neighboring solar system. Egon is an ever so slightly eccentric, amateur ‘rocket scientist’ assisted in his endeavors by a clumsy, and decidedly overfed, catlike creature called Donci. Their simple existence becomes suddenly complicated when an unidentified object flies into their lives (Voyager-3) with a message from Earth. Egon decides that there is only one thing to do and that is to establish contact with this distant civilization. The fundamental and unavailable philosophy of this animated adventure is a singularly simple one: the complete and total avoidance of aggression in any form whatsoever. The lovable characters at the center of events never knowingly harm another living being. Although they often get battered and bruised, it is only as a result of their own hapless antics. Egon and Donci never speak on screen and so all communication that takes place between them is achieved by a series of childish mimes and simple sounds. Directed by Ádám Magyar.

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Fizzy’s Lunch Lab launches on PBS Kids Go on November 16

Friday, November 13th, 2009
Just in time for the indulgent holiday season, PBS KIDS GO! and Boston creative group CloudKid, invite early elementary school kids to join the hilarious animated adventures of Professor Fizzy and friends in FIZZY’S LUNCH LAB (PBSKIDSGO.org/lunchlab) as they prepare tasty snacks, investigate the difference between good and bad food, and learn what happens once the food you eat goes into your body. FIZZY’s LUNCH LAB experience features funny characters in a variety of short video segments and interactive games and is designed to bring kids and parents together to help plan meals, make snacks and team up to make healthier eating choices for the entire family. The site will also feature extensive resources on PBS Parents (PBSPARENTS.org) and PBS Teachers (PBSTEACHERS.org) to further the learning.

“Childhood obesity is a growing problem and we realized that in order to start reversing the effects of our fast food culture, we’d have to employ some of the same tactics that fast food giants have historically used to attract children”, said FIZZY’S LUNCH LAB co-creator, Evan Sussman. “By creating fun, animated personalities, our hope is to keep families entertained, engaged, and interested in healthy living. When was the last time you received your recipe instructions from a bellowing measuring-cup drill-sergeant?”

“At PBS KIDS, we focus on guiding children to adopt healthy habits through our positive role models, great storytelling and engaging games. FIZZY’S LUNCH LAB is a perfect addition to our menu – it is interactive content that empowers children to make the right choices and advance their knowledge about healthy eating and exercise,” said Sara DeWitt, Senior Director, PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! Interactive. “PBS has been increasing its commitment towards original Web-only properties and video online. With an average of 1.3 million streams per week, kids are eating up video on PBSKIDSGO.org, and we are confident they will love meeting Professor Fizzy and his friends there, too.”

The FIZZY’S LUNCH LAB Web site at PBSKIDSGO.org/lunchlab will feature animated and live-action shorts, fun interactive recipes, interesting food facts, and exciting interactive games that guide children towards making smarter food choices. At a time when healthy eating and nutrition are more crucial then ever, FIZZY’S LUNCH LAB gives children a chance to play with their food, and eat it too. Co-creator Dave Schlafman explains, “We don’t want to force-feed the information, so we try not to use kid-phobic words such as ‘healthy’ or ‘nutritious’. We created the Lunch Lab to get everyone excited about cooking. The educational component is our way of slipping the broccoli in with the dessert. Evan and I also wanted a ‘trickle-up’ effect – getting kids so excited about the content that they want to share it with their parents.”

Showcasing a vibrant cast of original characters, FIZZY’S LUNCH LAB stars Professor Fizzy, the Lunch Lab’s funny and fabulous host. Warm, engaging, and just a little bit scatter-brained, Fizzy is an energetic, effervescent culinary genius who loves to educate kids and families about the importance of nutrition, physical activity, and a good laugh. Also joining Fizzy is his trusty sidekick, Mixie-Bot; Sully the Cell, our guide to the human body; Corporal Cup, the kitchen’s drill sergeant; and finally, Fizzy’s greasy nemesis, Fast Food Freddy. While The Lunch Lab may suffer from Fizzy’s absent-mindedness and misadventures, the gang never loses their excitement and curiosity about food, and look forward to every fun experiment. Laughter is Fizzy’s favorite ingredient and his friends are always cooking up something tasty.

The Lunch Lab content will rollout over the course of 10 months (40 weeks). Each week, PBSKIDSGO.org/lunchlab will launch a new animated video with a fun printable recipe for kids and parents to enjoy. Monthly food and nutrition themes will help guide the message and menu, while each animated short will teach new concepts pertaining to the featured theme.

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