Category: Entertainment + Media

Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure – yes, it’s all that

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I take my Disneyland fix quite seriously and I love Mickey Mouse. So, you can only imagine my excitement when I was invited to check out the grand opening of the new Cars Land area of Disney’s California Adventure. I must admit, my expectations were high. Sky high, actually. And let me tell you, Pixar delivers. Imagine that you are sitting down with your wee ones watching Lightning McQueen on the big screen. Now picture yourself walking through the flat screen TV into that world–that’s truly what Cars Land is. Radiator...

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Pixar’s Brave review – A princess movie without a handsome prince

It’s kind of hard to believe that Disney produced the wonderful new “princess” movie Brave. After all, there’s no handsome prince, no fantasy dance scene in a sweeping gown, and no dead mother. What there is is a strong (super strong) female lead, and a lot of big bears. Also, boys will like it too. Seriously. My girls, 5 and almost 7, simply adored Brave and so did their mama. It’s beautifully produced, funny on both a kids’ and an adult level–something John Lasseter is pretty awesome at–and dramatic enough to keep you interested right through the very end....

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Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s new Make Believers is keeping it real

Once my kids had outgrown toddler-pop songs and quiet lullabies, they were ready for music that was a bit more grown up, though not of the he did me wrong/I partied all night long genre. Fortunately, elementary-school kids like mine have a friend in Secret Agent 23 Skidoo who keeps churning out fantastic, age-appropriate, kid-hop CD’s that sound cool-enough for our cool-enough kids, but with lyrics that will keep their heads in the right place.  {Keep reading for a chance to win a copy!} Though my kids have no idea what “street cred” is, I think one of the reasons...

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The best karaoke songs for any situation

We had the best time writing this post on behalf of our sponsor, Bing. Read on and you’ll know why. Also, you may get Celine Dion stuck in your head after this and for that we apologize. I hardly know a parent in my circle who doesn’t confess to the guilty pleasure that is karaoke. Oh admit it–there’s nothing more fun than a private room with a few friends on babysitter night, a couple of hot mics, and a few bottles of…well, something that gets you more willing to belt out Bon Jovi than you might have been earlier...

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The celebs come out for Baby Buggy Bedtime Bash….and so did we!

This week, I was so excited to be able to attend the annual Baby Buggy Bedtime Bash for the first time. This infamous NYC faily carnival and fundraiser supports one of my favorite local charities, Baby Buggy (which Cool Mom Picks readers surely know by now). Founded by the amazingly dedicated Jessica Seinfeld, they do a fantastic job of getting essential gear, clothing and baby essentials to families in need, and we couldn’t love them more. Click over to see some of the cool celebrities we met–and their cute kids–and learn more about how you can help. The sponsors...

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It’s a small world in The Secret World of Arrietty

Want to know why we’re in love with The Secret World of Arrietty? Family Movie Night in our house usually means the kids pick an animated-to-the-gills cartoon that tries to make itself relevant to “all ages” with lots of double-entendre, fast-paced action scenes, and mildly suggestive sexual tension. (I’m looking at you Puss in Boots.) So how refreshing to find a G-rated movie that has our all-ages audience riveted without a single car chase, animal hip-hop number, or over-their-heads joke. Having never read The Borrowers, I came to The Secret World of Arrietty with little knowledge of the story...

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Dan Zanes in a most unexpected place: your own kitchen

Dan Zanes is happiness squared. His music puts me in a great mood each and every time I give it a spin–even without the kids, when I’m alone in the minivan. So I’m excited to see his new project that didn’t come out of a sound studio, but a ceramics studio. [after the jump, learn more about a special Dan Zanes event for families this week!] The new new Dan Zanes pairing with one of my fave shops, Fishs Eddy, the quintessential funky New York restaurant-quality tableware shop, makes so much sense. One look at the quirky tubas, cellos,...

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Kindie music’s Walden: The Okee Dokee Brothers take on the Mississippi

When I wrote about the first Okee Dokee Brothers CD back in ’08, I called them “equal parts hillbilly, seven-year-old boy and your favorite teacher”…heavy on the 7 year old boy. Now on their third release, it’s as if the two jokers with the goofy sense of humor have grown up a bit as they recount their month spent on the Mississippi with some mighty fine music and plenty of good times. Here’s one you’ll definitely want before you head out this summer. Kicking off with the title song, Can You Canoe? is one long love letter to the great...

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What? We’re recommending a cover album for kids? Why yes indeedy!

We are not generally fans of albums of popular music covered by band that dumb down the music for kids–or worse, have kids sing the music. I’ll take my Beatles sung by the Beatles, thanks very much. That said, I was nervous when I heard about LA duo Renee & Jeremy‘s CD of cover songs, especially since it included picks from REM and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Now there is no question in my mind that few voices in kids’ music sound more perfect together than these two, with their gorgeous harmonies that are ideal for those times when...

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The one Potluck where everything is tasty

Since returning home from this year’s Kindiefest, I’ve been listening to loads of great kids’ music I can’t wait to share, like this brand-new release from one of our kindie favorites, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band. Their latest collection of songs is a like a wonderful smorgasbord of treats for your family to love. {Keep reading for your chance to win this new release!} Sandwiched between the spoken word pieces Morning and Night, A Potluck is filled with a meaty middle of catchy, pop-y tunes. Lucky Diaz’s voice is cool and mellow which I love best when it...

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Lollipop Theater Network – Bringing movies to kids who can’t go themselves

As a music therapist working with kids in the hospital, I saw that one of the biggest challenges parents faced (among the many) was providing their kids with as much of a typical every day experience as they could. From keeping up with school work to listening to music with friends, it’s so important for parents, therapists and staff to work together to help bring normalcy to kids’ lives, not just for their own development but for their morale as well.  So, when we got wind of what the Lollipop Theater Network does for kids, we just had to...

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Hot Dog! Caspar Babypants is back

When Caspar Babypants burst onto the kindie music scene, I remember thinking it was cool that this Presidents of the United States of America lead singer had dipped his toe into the kindie pool with this little side project. Now, four years and five CD’s later, it’s pretty clear that he’s going to swim in this pool for a while. Lucky us! {read on to see how you can get an autographed copy of his latest CD} Caspar Babypants’ latest Hot Dog! is another jam-packed collection of happy tunes for little kids and their parents to sing, dance, clap...

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Get ready to rock your socks off at Kindiefest 2012

For the past few years, I’ve traveled to Brooklyn, grabbed my editor Liz, and headed to the most fun conference filled with some of the best and smartest people making and promoting kids’ music. We do it for love of the genre. And to find great new family-friendly music for you all, so that you have much more to choose from than yet another rendition of You Are My Sunshine sung by an off-key puppet.  But this is much more than an insider’s only event, and on Sunday, April 29, doors will swing widely open at Littlefield in Brooklyn...

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Science rocks in Wallace & Gromit’s World of Invention

Long before I had children, I fell in love with the clay stop-motion characters of nerdy inventor Wallace and his lovable dog Gromit. And now that I’ve succeeded in bringing three more over to Wallace & Gromit fandom, I’ve found a fun little series that couples our love of these characters with stories about the coolest-of-the-cool inventions from around the world to get kids excited about science. Six episodes of Wallace & Gromit’s World of Invention have been neatly packaged for us here in the states since we didn’t catch them when they originally aired on the BBC1. Wallace, the...

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Why PBS should bring this circus to your town

Last summer, our editor Liz gushed about the wonders of Circus Smirkus, the amazing single-ring circus whose performers are all kids. And for those of us in the New England or upstate New York areas, every summer brings us another chance to catch this innovative circus, now approaching its 25th year. But for those of you in other parts of the globe, and for those of us who adore these young performers and want to see more, more, more, there is a way to bring the circus right into your home. The new documentary Circus Dreams, A Movie Journey...

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Fighting evil with rock ‘n’ roll, Aquabats style

The minds behind Yo Gabba Gabba! are not content to settle with one successful kids show. In fact, they have just hooked themselves a certain daughter I know with a brand-new show–and some truly awesome rock music. And I’m betting a lot of other daughters and sons will be hooked when this new show premieres today. “The Aquabats! Super Show!” (I bow down to the generous-yet-not-totally-annoying use of exclamation points) focuses on a band of crime-fighting musicians who are on a mission to vanquish evil using the power of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s totally comical and campy in a...

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Get your popcorn ready: New York’s International Children’s Film Fest is Coming.

Film fans in the New York area are preparing for the New York International Children’s Film Festival and we are too! Over the past 15 years, the NYICFF has become a huge family event, and a great chance to expose our kids to more than 100 films from 34 countries, that obviously go beyond your usual big box-office fare. If you’re thinking about going (and make your reservations now, it sells out!), the festival runs from March 2-25. And if you need some help figuring out what to see and what your kids will love, we’ve got the scoop–straight...

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The Lorax movie review: Is it every bit as awesome as the book?

I am absolutely smitten with The Lorax, one of Dr. Seuss’ most powerful characters. The book has such a strong environmental message that continues to resonate within me and so many of Dr. Seuss’ fans, so I must admit that I had very high expectations for The Lorax movie, especially knowing the Despicable Me creators were behind the production. Could it possibly get the message across in a new and entertaining way while remaining authentic to the original intent? I caught a screening of it, and my answer, with complete certainty, is yes. The Lorax on film delivers in...

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Dan Zanes honors Black History Month with music

We have always loved the versatility of Dan Zanes’ music and the multicultural sound of so many of his songs, whether they’re in his collaborations with the children of South Africa’s Agape Orphanage in singing Zulu folk songs, or in a duet with newcomer Shine (of Shine and the Moonbeams) to belt out a little soul in Wake Up Baby!  So while he has the mic this weekend on his Sirius XM radio show, he’s going to use it to expose our kids–and many of us adults–to a wide range of music created and sung by black musicians and singers....

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Star Wars in 3D gives everyone a chance to see it on the big screen

My seven-year-old can tell you whose lightsaber is purple (Mace Windu) and what sound a Droideka makes (em! em!), but he’s never been able to sit in a movie theater and see one of his beloved Star Wars movies on the big screen. Until now. The two of us were fortunate enough to be invited to spend an out-of-this world weekend with other media types at Skywalker Ranch and the Presidio in advance of the big release of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace 3D.  If you have a young (or old) Jedi who is quaking in their...

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Big Miracle Review – and a little of the celebrity gossip you’re hoping for

Like me, you may have seen the Big Miracle ads on TV and thought–hmm, that could be kinda cheesy. So I was frankly a little surprised to find myself at a preview screening, laughing out loud, wiping tears (shhh) and thinking, wow, my kids are going to love this. The film is based, with surprisingly little dramatic deviation, on the true 1988 story of a family of three grey whales trapped under the ice in frigid, sleepy Barrow, Alaska, and how an unlikely crew of ratings-hungry journalists, Inuit whalers, oil moguls, Greenpeace and even the government converge on the...

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Flummox and Friends: Because quirky can be funny

There are a lot of days when having a kid with social challenges isn’t particularly funny; when his feelings get hurt, when making friends is difficult, when he despairs of ever “getting it right” when it comes to following society’s rules… that’s not particularly giggle-worthy. But the truth is that any “social skills program” that isn’t entertaining is just a great big downer and something to be tuned out. So maybe you heard my squeals of glee, just now, at discovering the Flummox and Friends website and associated Kickstarter site. The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism just put up...

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Fids and Kamily and the top kids albums of 2011

As much as I love listening to the awesome music that comes my way as part of being CMP’s primary kids’ music reviewer, I find picking my favorites to be one of the harder tasks I have to do. It’s like deciding if I like salted caramel better than mocha fudge better than crunchy toffee: You want me to choose? But choose I’ve done for the 2011 Fids and Kamily Awards along with other journalists, producers, bloggers and radio show hosts. The results are in! Many congratulations to Recess Monkey for their most-awesome FLYING! which captures the top spot...

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Alastair Moock bring American folk music to friends of all sizes

Like singer Laura Veirs, Massachusetts musician Alastair Moock has had a long and successful career playing American folk music for grown ups. And similarly, both musicians started making kids’ music after the birth of their children, but in a way that keeps true to their folksy musical roots. But while Laura Veirs’ voice is of the more ethereal, take-your-breath-away variety, Alastair Moock’s is more gritty and down to earth, with lyrics full of winks and knee slaps. Which makes his new album great fun. {keep reading to find out how you can win a copy!} Within a minute, Alastair’s...

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Being Elmo

I still remember the first time I saw Kevin Clash, the man behind Elmo, on a TV show–and I couldn’t believe my ears. Who knew a big guy like Kevin was the voice of the lovable–and, yes, sometimes annoying–little red guy on Sesame Street. Now with the release of a heralded new documentary about this odd couple, it’s fascinating to learn more about one of the most famous and intriguing pairs in puppeteering. A true follow-your-dreams-no-matter-what story, I get choked up just watching the trailer for Being Elmo — A Puppeteer’s Journey which won awards at the Sundance Film...

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Yoga for Kids – more plausible than you might think

The thing about kids –and I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume it’s not just my own who are like this– is that they don’t always have the patience to hold yoga postures or meditate. But they certainly like stories. And excitement. And good old-fashioned silliness. Not exactly three things I think of when I think of yoga, but that’s exactly what I love about this new yoga DVD for kids. Ahmed Fahmy, a certified children’s yoga instructor, is a gentle presence who isn’t afraid of being silly. On the StorylandYoga DVD, he teaches yoga...

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Mike Park’s ska-flavored kids’ CD will make you jump and smile

Dad-of-two Mike Park knows a thing or two about the music biz: He was once the energetic lead in the big ’90s ska/punk band Skankin’ Pickle, touring with the likes of Rancid, Primus, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. He’s also the founder of Asian Man Records. And now, like so many rockers-turned-parents, he’s turned his attentions to putting out an amazing kids’ album. {keep reading for a chance to win a copy of this CD!} In his newest kid-friendly venture, Smile, he’s toned things down a bit to appeal to kids who are still sounding out the word s-k-a....

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Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie: It’s alive! Again!

Everyone loves the heartwarming story of a boy and his dog. But when that boy is Victor Frankenstein and the dog is a reanimated but still loyal (and cute!) corpse, you know Tim Burton is involved. If you and your kids liked The Nightmare Before Christmas and Alice in Wonderland, you might dig (up) Frankenweenie, too. If the story sounds familiar, it’s because Burton already made Frankenweenie— and it got him fired from Disney back in 1984. I remember it lovingly, as well as the short movie The Family Dog, which had the same hilarious bull terrier. Thanks to...

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Take a musical spin through the decades with Laura Veirs and Tumble Bee

The good ol’ days sort of lose their luster for me when I think about a life without indoor plumbing, internet access and Starbucks. But, I will give them one thing: Their folk songs sure were beautiful as evidenced in this lovely and playful collection of tunes by American singer-songwriter Laura Veirs. Laura Veirs’ Tumble Bee may be packaged as a children’s CD, but I could listen to this on a quiet afternoon when my usual “loud and fast” fare is too much. Even my older-than-preschool kids are charmed and not begging me to change to the nearest pop-music...

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Does your pre-schooler habla perro y gato?

Garfield and Odie, Ren and Stimpy, Sylvester and Hector–cartoon teams of cats and dogs have been used to teach kids a wide variety of lessons for decades. (Sometimes just how to beat each other up.) But now, the creative minds at HBO family are bringing us two new characters in a series of bilingual specials I know pre-schoolers will love.  In El Perro y El Gato, an energetic chihuahua and a perpetually hungry, very laid-back kitty are best friends who weave through a series of comical situations all the while teaching phrases in English and Spanish to your little ones. It’s bright and silly, and does...

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