Thursday, November 29, 2012

Web Series We Love: “The Digits”

If I could design the perfect show for ages seven to eleven, I’d want it to seamlessly blend its educational layer with entertainment that’s as witty and downright smart as the concepts its hoping to convey. And I’d want this perfect show to teach math, because this is the time in a tween’s life when math moves from simple arithmetic into more abstract concepts like fractions and geometry. I think I’ll really reach for the sky: I want the show to be able to help my child with her math homework (at least the questions Aunt Liz can’t handle). I know I’m asking way too much, but nonetheless, I’d like you to meet The Digits.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I'll Be "Thunderstruck"

To celebrate the December 4th release of Warner Bros. Thunderstruck on DVD and Blu-ray, we're giving away one Combo Pack (Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital Download). Just sign up to officially follow this site, then leave a comment to this story with a way to reach you (email preferred). Already follow this site? Great. Just leave a comment. And good luck!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lincoln, Lincoln, I’ve Been Thinkin’: Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln”

Lincoln brings to life our sixteenth president with an uncanny naturalism that is almost disconcerting. There’s no pedestal here. Abe Lincoln isn’t presented as saintly. He’s portrayed as a savvy politician and competent leader who recognized when the time was right for the passage of the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery. Lincoln is rated Rated PG-13 for “an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language.” But more to the point, this film is more about persuasion and politics in all its stubbornness, intractability, and compromise than it is about action. This is a grown-up film, perfect for parents and your over-thirteens to enjoy and discuss.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

’Tis the Season: “Rise of the Guardians”

Rise of the Guardians by Dreamworks is a fun and frosty treat for younger kids this holiday season. It stars the titans of holiday (and everyday) whimsy—Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Jack Frost—in a way that doesn’t negate the religious connotations of Christmas and Easter so much as it sidesteps them. This movie is about the symbolism, the legends, and the fairy stories that create the core of a child’s holiday excitement. And this bunch—Santa, Easter Bunny, et al—have made it their mission to bring magic and whimsy into the lives of children all around the world and to guard that innocence and child-like belief.

Monday, November 19, 2012

TV Shows We Love: Disney’s “Sofia the First”

After months of anticipation, Sofia the First premiered on the Disney Channel last night. To paraphrase a line from another Disney princess movie—Tangled—this princess was worth the wait. Sofia is a sweet, game, lively princess with a great sense of humor and loyalty; and she’s a good sport to boot.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Apps That Put Girls Center Stage: Magic Belles, Sleeping Beauty, Thumbelina, and Disney Fairies Fly

Your kids will love these four fun, creative, and inspiring apps. While these apps aren’t just for girls, they star female characters and have an overall feminine quality that leans toward the female side of the equation. There’s something for every age group here, from preschool to preteen. Each has an aura of specialness that makes it a perfect holiday gift. And speaking of gifts, we're giving away three copies of Magic Belles AND three copies of Thumbelina. Just leave a comment to this story with a way to reach you (email preferred) by 5pm EST on Monday, November 19th, 2012. And good luck!

Why Can’t We Be “Friends”?

Do you love your Friends? In honor of Warner Bros. new release of the Friends Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set, Warner Bros. will give one Media Darlings reader a Limited Edition Friends prize pack with two oversized cappuccino mugs and a picture frame just like the one on Monica’s door! All you need to do to enter is to sign up to officially follow this site, then leave a comment to this story with a way to reach you (email preferred) below. Already follow us? Great! Then just leave the comment and you’re entered. The contest ends 5pm EST on November 30, 2012. And good luck!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Picture Books We Love: “The Reader”

Review and Author and Illustrator Interviews
The Reader is an adorable picture book written by Amy Hest and illustrated by Lauren Castillo and published by Amazon Children’s Publishing. It’s also the lead character of the book. The "Reader" is a small boy with a dog, a sled, and a suitcase. The boy and his dog play in the snow and climb to the top of a tall hill where the suitcase is opened and they share a surprise. The Reader is about the quiet of nature. It’s also about being able to hear yourself think. And of course, it’s about the special bond between child and dog. The illustrations are gorgeous, created in a sure-handed minimalism that makes you step back in awe. Beautiful moments of fun in the snow make this a perfect holiday gift. And it celebrates a love of reading and of books. It’s a small piece of perfection

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Late to the Game: Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph”

Disney’s Fifty-Second Animated Feature – 2012
I was literally in the dark when this film opened last week, put in the dark by Hurricane Sandy. Now that our lights are back on, I was itching to get to the theater to see Disney’s latest feature. Wreck-It Ralph is the first feature film for tv director Rich Moore (Drawn Together, Futurama, and The Simpsons, to name a few) and writers Phil Johnston (a few tv movies and shorts) and Jennifer Lee (her first film), which surprised me. Disney is willing to bet the candy store on a group of newbies? Will this be revolutionary? No spoiler here: no. Wreck-It Ralph delivers great entertainment value, but it’s more dependable than original.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Vocabulary Building Apps We Love: “The Opposites” and “Word Cracker”

Lights are back on after a weeklong blackout at my house and it feels great to be getting a story up. During the blackout, I could recharge my laptop and iPad at the local library, so I spent some time with a pair of wonderful, slightly addictive apps that love words as much as I do.

Stand Tall!

New York Times Bestselling illustrator Tom Lichtenheld (Duck Rabbit!, Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site) was inspired by last night’s election and the response to Hurricane Sandy to create this charming and inspirational image.

In his words, “Despite the storm, despite the money, despite the mud-slinging … this thing basically worked. So let's put the elephants and donkeys out to pasture and come up with a new mascot.” – Tom Lichtenheld

Or as Lara Starr from Chronicle Books told me, “Today, there are no Elephants. There are no Donkeys. We are all Giraffes!”

Friday, November 2, 2012

To Serve Animals: Disney’s “The Lion King”

Disney’s Thirty-Second Animated Feature - 1994 (original release) 2011 (3D release)
I have a confession to make: I’ve never been a huge fan of The Lion King. While it’s impossible not to get swept up in its beautiful animation, top-notch voice performances, and exciting story, the essential phoniness of animal life along with its celebration of adherence to royal bloodlines and “proper” succession to the throne has always irked me. A much earlier Disney classic about animals in nature, Bambi, was set in a world where animals speak and the owl is a friend to a rabbit; but on the whole, the story of Bambi set the deer in a recognizable, realistic world. The Lion King, on the other hand, is more a movie about a European royal family (pre-Renaissance) than it is about any group of animals.