Monday, October 19, 2009

"The Strawberry Shortcake Movie: Sky's the Limit" DVD review

 I received a review copy of The Strawberry Shortcake Movie: Sky's the Limit DVD several weeks ago. Since my boys aren't big Strawberry Shortcake fans, OK, since they aren't fans at all, I gave the copy to one of my coworkers who has two girls (3 1/2 and 6 years).

Like my boys like Thomas the Train, her girls like Strawberry Shortcake! That means they like her a lot!

Here's a synopsis of the movie that came with the press release:
A sudden storm leaves Berry Bitty City with a gigantic problem. Strawberry Shortcake and her friends will have to move their whole tiny town unless they find a way to safely remove a huge boulder that threatens everything they hold dear. The storytelling Mr. Longface Caterpillar says he has an easy solution. Strawberry reluctantly agrees to follow him in an adventure-filled journey in search of his fabled Geyser Stone. When that journey ends in failure, Strawberry loses faith in herself. Can her friends restore her "Sky's the Limit" attitude to help lead them to save the town?

According to my coworker her girls are enjoying the movie. Her 3 1/2 year old is really enjoying looking at the brochure that came with the movie, and planning what toys she wants to add to her Berry Café collection next! Apparently they already have three of the toys that go with the movie.

If she gives me anymore feedback I'll update this post, but overall the impression I got is that if your kids love Strawberry Shortcake they will enjoy this movie!

The Strawberry Shortcake Movie: Sky's the Limit is available now!

Bonus: Here's the link to a coloring page you can print off!

"Thomas and Friends: Hero of the Rails The Movie" review

If you have toddler or pre-school aged boys I'm feeling pretty confident in guessing that they are Thomas the Train fans.

Noah was a huge fan when he was three and four, and one of my favorite memories with him at that age is taking him to a Day Out with Thomas at Strasburg Railroad, in Strasburg, PA. 

When I received a copy of the new Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rails The Movie DVD I was excited to have a chance to introduce Kiel to Thomas.

Unlike Noah at that age Kiel is actually happy to sit and watch a video or age appropriate TV show. (Yes, I let my toddler watch TV. I value what sanity I have left.)

Kiel, with his love of trucks, trains and planes, was immediately hooked! No surprise there.

Noah was happy to sit and watch the movie too. Talk about a win-win for Mommy!

Unlike the Thomas episodes I'm used to watching, which aren't more than five or ten minutes long, this is a full length movie (approximately 60 minutes). It's also, according to the press release I received the first time individual character voices are heard for the engines. 

Here is a synopsis of the movie:

In this action-packed tale of friendship, determination and teamwork Thomas discovers an abandoned and broken down engine named Hiro from an exciting far away land.  Fearing that he will be scrapped, Thomas enlists help from many friends including Victor, a new steam engine and Kevin, a new crane vehicle who both work at the spectacular Sodor Steam Works. But mishaps, mistakes and one boastful engine could foil their plans for a heroic rescue.  Can the engine pals work together to help their new friend?  Join the adventure and find out!

There's a really good plot recap of the movie here. I love that it also includes trivia and goofs that point out inconsistencies in the movie. As an adult watching a kid movie I think it makes it a little more fun for me to look for those things. Of course I don't point them out to my boys!

What did I think? Well, in general Thomas kind of annoys me, but less than some other stuff my boys like. Like all Thomas stories there is a message in the story line, which I appreciate. I don't like the teasing and general bullying of some of the engines. Noah has never been able to separate the good from the bad with stuff like this, so I have to be extra conscientious about not letting him watch Thomas without guidance.  That's just another bonus of the autism spectrum disorder.

What did my boys think? They loved it of course. They have watched it several times and it is in regular rotation now with the frequently asked for DVD's.

I definitely recommend this if your kids are Thomas fans!

“Art House Volume 1: Basic Shapes and Animals” review

The Louvre, The Met, the Guggenheim, the … refrigerator door?  The family “gallery” will display the creative genius of budding young artists like never before with the launch of Art House, a charming new DVD series teaching children the fundamentals of drawing.

I recently received the initial title in a new DVD series that introduces children to the basics of art and drawing, Art House Volume 1: Basic Shapes and Animals to review with the boys.

I was very exciting when I received the video. Noah has shown a lot of interest lately in drawing so I figured this would be perfect to try with him if I could get him at a time when he could focus.

Well, today was the day, so after homework Noah, Kiel and I did "art" together. 

I pulled out the big drawing pad and the box of crayons and markers and we set to work.

The DVD starts out by working on the four basic shapes: circles, squares, triangles, and ovals.

I was a little concerned at this point because they spent a couple minutes on each shape and I was afraid it wouldn't keep Noah's attention.  He did some drawing in between, but the video was able to pull him back in with each new shape.

Although Kiel can't draw any of the basic shapes considering he's only 23 months old, he had lots of fun "helping."

The first animal they showed how to draw was a fish, by combining ovals and triangles. Noah did a great job listening to the video, but didn't always watch it when it showed exactly where to put the different shapes. He still drew a pretty awesome fish and wasn't phased by Kiel's "additions." 

They also showed how to draw a dog, a bird, a monkey, and a dinosaur. 

After each animal there was a little music video type break, where they showed the "real" animal for a couple minutes. 

Again I was afraid Noah would lose interest during those breaks, but he just spent them coloring in his animals.

I was very pleased with how interested Noah was during the video. By the last animals he was remembering to listen and look at what the next step was before he started drawing.

He added plenty of personal touches to his drawings, which I was happy to see. I think it's great to teach a kid the basics, but you don't want them to lose their imagination either.

Kiel enjoyed helping Noah for a while, then he sat on my lap and just watched the video. 

Overall it was a win for both kids! I'm pretty sure Noah will ask to watch this again, which for a DVD like this is high praise.

I'm looking forward to seeing how he does with Volume 2: Start Your Engines and Volume 3: On the Farm which are due out in 2010.

Here is some information that the PR firm sent me with the DVD:

Developing artistic skills at an early age has proven to promote problem solving, communication, curiosity and perspective.  Created by Amy Wilkes, a USC School of Cinematic Arts graduate and Tiffany Jennings, an elementary school teacher, Art House DVD series teaches children ages 3 and up how to draw using basic shapes – squares, circles, triangles, etc. – as a base to illustrate almost anything. 

“When schools feel the financial crunch, art programs are the first to go,” says Wilkes. “The Art House series nurtures young minds and offers parents a chance to create art with their child even if neither have any experience in drawing. Seeing our children’s faces light up with pride as they complete a drawing makes the whole project worthwhile.”  Adds Jennings, “We’ve seen the confidence that art skills can bring to children.  By simply learning how to draw, they are unlocking a wealth of developmental abilities.”  

In Art House Volume 1: Basic Shapes and Animals, join Teacher Emily and the Art House Gang as they draw fish, dogs, monkeys, birds, dinosaurs and more.  Engaging kids with bright, bold animation by Brad Abelson (The Simpsons); original music by award-winning composer Peter Scaturro; and fun live-action visuals, the program is both interactive and easy-to-follow, providing step-by-step instructions to help young viewers create simple drawings of their very own.  Along with printable coloring book pages, learning to draw has never been easier … or more fun!   
So give your child some crayons and paper and watch their imaginations flow.

Art House Volume 1: Basic Shapes and Animals just received the Dove Family Foundation Seal of Approval  The Dove Family Foundation is a national nonprofit with the goal “To encourage and promote the creation, production, distribution and consumption of wholesome family entertainment.”
Also endorsed by KIDS FIRST!, Art House Volume 1: Basic Shapes and Animals will be  available on DVD  nationwide November 17, 2009 for a suggested retail price of $17.99.
Future titles in the series to be released in 2010 are Volume 2: Start Your Engines, Volume 3: On the Farm and Volume 4: Under the Sea.  Recommended for ages 3 and up, Art House Volume 1: Basic Shapes and Animals is available at and

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