Sunday, April 29, 2012

I Really Dig “Small Potatoes” by Josh Selig

Television We Love
Small Potatoes is the new short-form series from Josh Selig and Little Airplane Productions. Selig is the creator of the clever children’s series Wonder Pets and 3rd and Bird. Episodes of Small Potatoes appear throughout the day between regularly scheduled programs on Disney Junior in lieu of commercials. At just under four minutes each, they’re a perfect little opportunity to make a quick point, but this ambitious series does it with style and high production values.

Friday, April 27, 2012

You Had Me At Arrrr: “The Pirates! Band of Misfits”

There’s an innocent, wonderfully unawares brand of daftness that operates throughout The Pirates! Band of Misfits. The British do silly very well. And this is a very silly (insane) film. It’s directed by Aardman Animation’s own Peter Lord, who directed Chicken Run and the short Wat’s Pig (a particular favorite of mine).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Books We Love: “Penguin’s Hidden Talent” and “The Boy Who Cried Ninja”

My daughter and I are already familiar with the very talented author/illustrator Alex Latimer from his first picture book, The Boy Who Cried Ninja, a witty updating of Aesop’s boy who cried “wolf.” His new book (available for pre-order), Penguin's Hidden Talent is another winner.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Apps We Love: “One. Two. Match-A-Roo” and “Match the Pairs – Junior Edition”

Two extremely well-designed apps—One. Two. Match-A-Roo by CMCD Visual Symbols and Match the Pairs by Fabrik 19—take the concept of the classic match game to the digital world. Both apps are perfect examples of the idea that kids learn by doing; and that important skills—like memory development and quick visual analysis—are best achieved if kids are having fun. You’ll want in on these apps, too. Like the best apps, they’re engaging for every user.

Friday, April 20, 2012

“Chimpanzee” directed by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield

Movie Review by Jack Silbert
I dig monkeys. I love monkeys so much that, even though I know I’m really talking about chimpanzees most of the time, I still call them monkeys. So I was pumped to see Chimpanzee, the latest release from Disneynature. Each Earth Day since 2009, this Disney film division has put out a new nature documentary: Earth; Oceans; African Cats; and now Chimpanzee. This was the first of those films I’d seen, and I hadn’t done any advance research on the movie, so I really went into it much like your kids might. Though maybe a little bit taller.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Three Times the Chaos

The Three Stooges by the Farrelly Brothers
I kinda can't believe I'm writing this. I was never a huge fan of The Three Stooges as a kid; even as a tween, I thought they were, yes, juvenile. The question for me is: Does anybody really care about The Three Stooges anymore? I’m telling you that you should. Care, that is. The film is rated PG so they’re obviously trying for the widest possible audience.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

TV Shows We Love: “Gaspard and Lisa” on Disney Junior

Gaspard and Lisa is an interesting, even intriguing variation on preschool entertainment. Set in Paris, the main characters Gaspard and Lisa are “best friends forever.” The beautifully animated French setting means that the characters pepper their speech with French terms like “bonjour” and name a pet frog Pierre. Gaspard and Lisa are very kind and supportive of each other and any small misunderstandings are quickly remedied. They have their own best friend vocabulary, most notably they shout “catastrophe” when something goes wrong. They also do a cute little victory dance (involving a hip bump) when they solve a problem. But none of these things is what makes it so intriguing.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Replacements: Spring TV Shows for Your Teen (and You)

ABC’s Scandal and Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23
Two new spring replacement shows are sure to catch your older teen’s eye. Both on ABC, Scandal’s an hour drama and the Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 is a half-hour comedy, but both put women front and center in interesting variations on the modern woman.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Required Viewing for Parents: “Bully” Directed by Lee Hirsch

The film opens as a father watches home movies of a sweet baby boy who grows into a happy toddler before our eyes. He grows into a little boy and then a middle-schooler. As we watch the boy play and clown for the camera, his father describes him, but somberly and (we slowly come to realize) in past tense. We immediately recognize the worst and know this film is not going to soft-pedal the issue of bullying.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Apps We Love: “Critteroos: Mix. Match. Print.”

This app is as much fun as it is beautiful, and that’s saying a lot! Very funny, borderline surreal, educational, and easy to use, this app is a teaching tool that truly stimulates imagination and creativity. And it’s so simple! The great ideas often are.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Here Kitty, Kitty!

Books We Love: Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex
Remember those great old Warner Brothers cartoons where Daffy Duck would get into an argument with the artist drawing him? There’s a similar dynamic at play in Chloe and the Lion. Writer Mac Barnett mixes it up with illustrator Adam Rex, and lead character Chloe negotiates between them.