Thursday, May 10, 2012

KidTunes: Mo Phillips Wants a Monster Suit

“If I had a monster suit, I tell you just what I’d do. I’d find all the bad guys and I’d yell ‘boo!’ And if I had a monster suit, I tell you just what I’d do. I’d run down the hills of this town yellin’ whoooo. In my monster suit.” –Mo Phillips
“Monster Suit” is the last—and shortest—song on Mo Phillips’ latest kidtunes collection, also titled Monster Suit. It is a fitting ending to an album that starts the smiles right from the start (in fact, I burst out laughing at the “singing time” of the opening song, “Toes”). If imagination is a good thing (and it is), then Phillips is the ambassador of creativity.  
Monster Suit has a distinctly American sound with rhythms reminiscent of some of the best free-wheeling groups of the late 1960s. Instead of protesting the war and the system or extolling acid trips, Phillips tackles such engaging topics as “Drooling,” “Rollerskate Banana Peels” (a party-rock anthem), and “Bed Head.” “Hot Lava” warns us to stay on the couch “because the carpet is lava,” an even better pretend than the couch is a boat and the carpet is a river. “To the Zoo” is an urgent plea to go visit the animals, “Ducks Don’t Get Wet” is self-explanatory, and “All Okay” examines the vagaries of emotions and the joy of comfort.
We’ve all been to some pretty bad social gatherings, but how do we know if we’ve been to the “Worst Party Ever Thrown”? Phillips has been there and lays it out in graphic terms. Once we learn that “the hamsters were in the bathroom working on a voodoo curse,” we know nothing we’ve experienced has been quite so awful. The song also features hot dogs out on a stroll, an inept juggling snake, and a “blue jay who couldn’t sing a lick.” The party may have been a complete failure but we get the benefit of Phillips’ imagination. In fact, listeners might think he couldn’t be more creative until they get to “Suction Cup,” a song featuring “a dragon with a mullet wig that went down to the tip of his tail,” “coconut kneecaps,” and a plunger.
The emphasis is on fun, and Monster Suit is an album made for kids that will have adults laughing (and singing along), too. It rates very high on the tolerance meter—how many times can you listen to it without wanting to chuck the stereo out the window?—so if the kids want to hear it over and over (and they will) the “grown-ups” won’t feel tortured. In fact, they may be listening toMonster Suit after the kids have gone to sleep.  It’s that good. 

Read more:

KidTunes: Mo Phillips Wants a Monster Suit - Technorati Music

KidTunes: The Pop Ups Go Wild in 'Radio Jungle'

 The Pop Ups are a Brooklyn-based duo comprised of Jason Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein who wrote all the songs on their latest kidtunes collection, Radio Jungle. Klezmer, Latin, tropical, pop, and jazz infuse wildly-imaginative, kid-friendly lyrics that entertain while they sneak in a few lessons on language, mathematics, colors, and creativity.  Radio Jungle is the duo’s second release; their first, Outside Voices, was an award-winning favorite featured on top ten lists in such distinguished publications as The Washington Post.
Doesn’t everyone look up at the clouds and imagine animals their shapes suggest?  “Connect the Stars” is a celebration of a similar activity—connecting the stars to draw the outlines of different animals, limited only by the breadth of one’s imagination.  Imagination is also the focus of “Box of Crayons,” a song that hails the glory of color and the possibilities when crayon hits paper. For those who need to be reminded how colors interact, there is “Color Wheel,” a litany of primary, secondary, and tertiary colors.    
Fruit is the topic in “Best Fruit,” a determination of the best fruit in a fruit salad, and “Banana,” a song that recounts the banana’s journey from plant to table. There are more lessons in the counting song “Math Rock” and “Elephant,” an exploration of words and syllables.
Radio Jungle is a happy collection of songs that are easily understood and inviting—you can’t just listen, you’ll want to sing and dance along. Other songs on the album are “The Bat” (a dance we all need to learn), “Feelings Change,” and—my favorite—the Fred Schneider/B52’s –influenced “Pop Up City” (a song that stirs memories of both pop-up books and city life).  The Pop Ups offer  a unique sound that shimmers with energy and enthusiasm.  Radio Jungle is available from iTunes, CDBaby, and other retailers.

Read more: The Pop Ups Go Wild in Radio Jungle - Technorati Family

Monday, May 7, 2012

KidVid: The Wonderful World of Mo Willems

If you’ve shared the works—books and videos—of Mo Willems with a child, good for you! You’ve introduced that child to stories that are fun to read (or watch), told with warmth and wit, and highlight a marvelous understanding of how children think and what they want. If you have not shared Willems with a child—shame on you (unless you can honestly say you don’t know any children)! You are depriving children of a visit to a pigeon-centric world populated by naked mole rats, “knuffle” bunnies, and a terribly sweet monster.  
Scholastic Storybook Treasures recently released Mo Willems’ Pigeon and Pals – Complete Cartoon Collection Vol. 1 & 2 on DVD, offering six animated versions of children’s books that have won dozens of awards and earned Willems a place in the heart of preschoolers and their parents.  
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!...and more stores by Mo Willems features delightful characters in stories that teach without preaching, making them both amusing and wise. The bus driver leaves us in charge of the bus while he takes a break in Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, a story about a pigeon who really, really wants to…well, you know. There are two more stories on the disc: Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale and Leonardo the Terrible Monster.
What could possibly go wrong at a Laundromat? Trixie finds out when she brings her beloved Knuffle Bunny and then can’t quite communicate what the problem is when one arises in Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale. Leonardo the Terrible Monster isn’t all that terrible which is a terrible problem for him. He’s just not scary. When he finally finds Sam, a little boy who seems ripe for scaring, Leonardo’s plans for the big scare go awry. 
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!...and more stories by Mo Willems includes the title story, Knuffle Bunny Too, and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. When a disappointed bus driver drops his lunch on the ground, The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! and concerns himself with keeping it to himself, despite a little duck who is determined to call the gourmet delight his own.  
It turns out that Trixie’s unique Knuffle Bunny is not unique after all. When she takes it to preschool, she finds that classmate Sonia also has a Knuffle Bunny, although they disagree on whose is best and how to pronounce its name. The two girls argue and the teacher takes the bunnies from them inKnuffle Bunny Too. When teacher returns the toys at the end of the day, there’s a slight mix-up. Will Sonia and Trixie notice?
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed is a delightful story about a naked mole rat named Wilbur who thinks that being naked is overrated. He wants to wear clothing, and to the dismay of his mole rat colony, he does. The colony pressures Wilbur to go au naturel but he’s determined to be the best dressed mole rat there is. It takes a sage grandfather to put things right.
Mo Willems’ Pigeon and Pals – Complete Cartoon Collection Vol. 1 & 2 is recommended for ages two through eight and supports reading, cooperation, sharing, problem solving, and friendship skills. There are bonus features (including “Getting to Know Mo Willems,” “Animating Pigeon,” and “Mo and Pigeon Visit a School”)  and an optional read-along feature which allows viewers to watch the cartoons with or without subtitles.
Read more:

KidVid: The Wonderful World of Mo Willems - Page 2 - Technorati Family

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

KidVid: It’s Raining DVDs!

There must be something about April that inspires rain. There are the proverbial April showers and this April it seems like it’s pouring new DVD titles for the younger set. Some of the currently-popular characters with new releases include Angelina Ballerina, Wubbzy, Shaun the Sheep, Fireman Sam, and The Fresh Beat Band. 
Fireman Sam goes aquatic with Fireman Sam: Rescue on the Water. Kids ages two through five will learn about safety, loyalty, leadership, cooperation, friendship, and other positive values when they join Sam in six waterlogged adventures: “Stranded,” “The One that Got Away,” “Pirates of the Pontypandy,” “Norman’s Ark,” “Sailor Steele,” and “Dinosaur Hunt.” Fireman Sam: Rescue on the Water was released April 3, 2012, and is available on DVD, as a digital download, and as video on demand. Video on demand includes a bonus episode, “Alarm on the Beach.” Shifting tides, floods, and trouble at sea are no match for Fireman Sam and his squad of daring rescuers. 
Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! fans can celebrate the April 3, 2012, release of Wubbzy’s latest video, A Wuzzleburg Tale. Wubbzy shares lessons about kindness, friendship, and cooperation in six episodes: “Once Upon a Wubbzy” (a delightful story in which Wubbzy and Daizy search the Enchanted Grove for a pickleberry bush), “Big Birthday Mystery” (where are Wubbzy’s friends on his birthday?), “Welcome to the Dollhouse” (in which Wubbzy shrinks himself small enough to play in Daizy’s dollhouse), “Happily Ever After,” “Too Many Wubbzy’s” (can Wubbzy be in two places at once?), and “Focus Wubbzy.” Adding to the fun are coloring and activity sheets, and music videos. Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! is recommended for preschool age kids. 
April 3 is also the release date of an Angelina Ballerina three-DVD gift set, Angelina Ballerina Ultimate Dance Collection, which includes a bonus music CD with its three previously released DVDs (Pop Star GirlsThe Shining Star TrophyDancing on Ice). Each DVD includes a bonus game (“Dancing Star” Memory Game, “Talent Show” Trivia Game, “Polly’s Picture” Matching Game).  Angelina Ballerina is recommended for ages two through six and emphasizes friendship, creativity, cooperation, and helping.
Kids (and grownups) will have to wait until April 17, 2012, to get their hands on the newest release from Shaun the Sheep and his barnyard buddies, Shaun the Sheep: Shear Madness. Love is in the air when Shaun experiences his first crush, but the real excitement involves aliens. There are seven episodes in this collection: “Pig Trouble,” “Sheepless Nights,” “Party Animals,” “Cat’s Got Your Brain,” “Two’s Company?,” “What’s Up, Dog?,” and “Draw the Line,” as well as two bonus features: a sing-along and “Timmy Time Sneak Peek – Timmy’s Tune #2.” Shaun the Sheep is not just for kids; recommended ages are two through sixty—although there are quite a few post-sixty fans who would beg to differ. Well, maybe not beg, but you know what I mean. 
March saw the release of The Fresh Beat Band: Season 1 and The Fresh Beat Band: Season 2Both collections are available exclusively on, on DVD and instant video. In case you’re not in the preschool TV loop…The Fresh Beat Band is a Nickelodeon program that centers on four friends who love to sing and dance. They introduce kids to the fundamentals of music (styles, tempo, melody, rhythm) and emphasize the importance of friendship, working together, and respecting each other’s differences. The band recently kicked off a nationwide concert tour and offers a soundtrack album available from the Amazon MP3 store. The two new DVD titles each include four discs and a number of special feature music videos. They are manufactured on demand through Amazon’s CreateSpace service which manufactures DVDs in response to customer demand. At $14.99 per four-disc set, these collections offer a genuine bargain to Fresh Beat Band fans. 

Read more:

KidVid: It’s Raining DVDs! - Technorati Family

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Speak up for kids! April is GAL month in NC!

April is North Carolina Guardian ad Litem Child Advocate Month!

Every April, the Governor of North Carolina proclaims this month as a time to recognize the contributions of GALs, and to call for more volunteers to be the voice for a child!
                                                  (Read the proclamation) 
A big thank-you to each and every one of our advocates!

As we celebrate this month that honors the work that you do as advocates, we can't say thank you enough!

Thank you for your time, your effort, your compassion, your dedication, and most of all, your commitment to the best interests of each child that you serve. 

Our program is nothing without your donation of time and service. Thank you so much for volunteering as a Guardian ad Litem child advocate!
Win a "Be the voice for a child"
bumper sticker!

All throughout April, we'll be giving away "Be the voice for a child" magnetic bumper stickers!

Just keep tabs on our Facebook for a chance to win, or visitour site to read about all the contests we'll be running (and check out the official contest rules), and you could win!

National Child Abuse Prevention Month &
National Volunteer Week

Don't forget that it's also Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, and National Volunteer Week begins April 15! 

The Official NCGAL Child Advocate Month Site

Get updates and news about what's going on during Child Advocate Month and find out about all the contests we're having! Visit the site. 

Governor's Proclamation

View the official proclamation (PDF) for yourself, or check out ourpress release (PDF) highlighting the document. 

Look out and
listen up!

We're getting the word out everywhere we can about Child Advocate Month!Let us know if you see an article or hear a PSA on the radio about GAL.

Want more?

Visit our Child Advocate Month site, contactKaitlin Fender, Volunteer Recruiter, or check in with your local program for ways you can help get the word out about Guardian ad Litem during April Child Advocate Month. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Who Appointed Me “God”?

I recently shared a story with a close friend that always makes me smile when I tell it, and always reminds me that I’m not “all that.” When we lived in Louisiana, I gave the Sunday’s children’s sermon at Ingleside United Methodist Church and was chaplain for the Mother’s Day Out program.

One Sunday morning when I was giving the children's sermon in Baton Rouge, I said to the kids "watch this, it's fun" and stood up and faced the congregation. I told everyone to stand up (no "please"), and they did. Then I told them to raise their hands in the air and shake them back and forth (again, no "please"), and they did. I told them to sit down, and they did.

I turned to the kids and asked, "Did you see that? Do you know why all these grownups did what I told them to do without even saying please?" and a little voice in the back said, "Because you're God?"

I was stunned into speechlessness and instantly humbled.
Not me; not Ingleside United Methodist Church, but
you get the idea.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

KidVid: Hop (2011) Is Strictly for the Easter Bunny Set

If you need something to put in a kid’s Easter Basket besides candy, then Hop, now on Blu-ray/DVD/digital download, might be a great idea. This story of the heir-to-the-Easter-Bunny-throne (with rock and roll drummer aspirations) who flees Easter Island for Hollywood and meets a terminally unemployed underachiever can be best appreciated by the unsophisticated. While I wouldn’t recommend Hop to teenagers and adults (although it will find fans among those groups), it seems a fitting Easter gift that would go well with Marshmallow Peeps and jelly beans. 
 Hop blends CGI animation and live action in an uneasy mix that doesn’t always work. It stars James Marsden (as Fred, the underachiever), and Russell Brand (as the voice of Easter-bunny-to-be E.B.). Also appearing or contributing voice talent are Hank Azaria, Kaley Cuoco, Hugh Laurie, Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins, and David Hasselhoff. Entirely formulaic, Hop in no way challenges its audience, although younger children will enjoy the animation. 
According to Pete Hammond (BOXOFFICE), as quoted on Hop packaging, “The laughs don’t stop in this movie treat for all ages!” I’ve got to agree, but not because Hop is hilariously funny. I didn’t stop laughing because I never started. As for “all ages”…maybe if we’re discussing geological eras… 
 Buyers who opt for the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack will also get an “all-new, never-before-seen, music-filled mini-movie, bonus features and interactive games, a digital copy of the film, and an UltraVIolet copy that allows consumers to “enjoy their movies anytime, anywhere on the platform of their choice.” Hop is also available on a single DVD and in a DVD + Digital Copy combo pack. 
Read more:

KidVid: Hop (2011) Is Strictly for the Easter Bunny Set - Technorati Film