Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Important Announcement

Due to a family crisis, Ms. Slade regretfully announces that she must temporarily suspend publication of her blogs. She is grateful to her readers, and hopes they will check back in a few weeks. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

If it’s Tuesday it must be toys and tours

"Brown Teddy Bear" by Lydia Jacobs
Welcome to “If it’s Tuesday it must be toys and tours.” Like our sister columns, Wednesday’s “Book Report,,”Thursday’s “Musical Notes” and Friday’s “Popcorn Report,” which respectively features information on books,  music and movies, this weekly post highlights the best in product offerings in the world of toys, games, puzzles, crafts, sporting goods and vacation specials for children and teens, as well as industry news and up-to-date product recalls from United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). Be sure to check back each Tuesday.

Last week we focused on a variety of unique puzzles for children and teens, which were introduced to the public at Toy Fair 2011 from Ravensburger, a quality-driven toy, game and craft manufacturer/distributor that has been serving the children’s market for the last 125 years.

The Ravensburger product line is extensive, and today we will be covering one of their signature products, Labyrinth, which is now available in a special edition, along with various line extensions of this incredibly popular board game.

We’ll also take a look at current product recalls from the last seven days that you may have missed.


Labyrinth Anniversary Edition

It’s not often that a toy or game remains popular for a quarter of a century, but this year marks the silver anniversary of Labyrinth the shifting maze board game, perfect for ages seven and up.

Labyrinth is geared for two to four players and is very easy to learn. It’s an engrossing game that is ever changing during the course of play, and children benefit by learning to strategically think their advance moves in order to obtain their “treasures.”

This 25th Anniversary Edition of Labyrinth is a limited run that is packaged in a special collector’s tin, and comes with an added twist – 12 maze cards with encrypted messages on the back.

Labyritnth 25th Anniversary Edition carries an SRP of $29.99. Best available pricing is from online retailer, Fun and Games, where it is selling for $23.99.

There are several other versions of Labyrinth, each slightly different, and each carrying different pricing. The Duel, based on the original game is available through for $15.99 and where you will be able to view a video of the game in action.

There also is the Labyrinth Card Game for $9.40 through, and Labyrinth Jr., a version that is perfect for children under the age of seven.
This Jr. version is available through Amazon Marketplace for $9.89.


The following is a compilation of notices from the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).

Below you will find the most recent recalls and product news updates from the CPSC for the last 7 days.

In case you happened to have missed any of the announcements, just click on the following links for complete information on each of the items and breaking news.

No new toy product recalls in the last seven days.


March 23, 2011 - Gerber Legendary Blades Recalls Combo Axe Due to Laceration Hazard


March 23, 2011- CPSC Warns: As Button Battery Use Increases, So Do Battery-Related Injuries and Deaths Toddlers and Seniors Most Often Injured in Battery-Swallowing Incidents

If you are searching for other consumer product items such as household, outdoor products, utensils, furniture and clothing that may relate to all family members, please review additional listings at the CPSC’s search page.

Monday, March 28, 2011

All-new ‘Expedition Week’ and ‘Shark Men’ on NAT GEO TV

Seven nights and 13 different exploration adventures are part of another extraordinary week of programming on the National Geographic Channel, as they present Expedition Week, beginning Sunday April 3, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Following in the footsteps of last year’s critically acclaimed, “must see TV,” NAT GEO has upped the anti even further this year with an exceptionally diverse lineup of programming filled with outstanding film footage, computer-generated imagery, well-documented interviews, reenactments and narration.

Topics on thought provoking subjects such as the existence of rain forest tribes that practice cannibalism, to following the trail of the abominable snowman - all presented with excellent production values.

The entire Expedition Week is hosted by the “Shark Men,” as they prepare for their return with all-new episodes of Shark Men on April 10 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.

By connecting to the links provided below you’ll explore each of the upcoming Expedition Week episodes in depth, which includes: Program overviews; additional photos; facts; production journals, and video previews.

You may wish to bookmark this page to explore at your leisure.

 Some programs may be more suitable for older children and teens - parental caution is advised, and for your convenience, each episode has been given a TV Parental Guideline Rating.

All of the hour-long episodes of Expedition Week will be repeated throughout the month during various day parts, which can be tracked from National Geographic’s viewing guide.

The Expeditions

Sunday, April 3

9:00 p.m. ET/PT – TV14

10:00 p.m. ET/PT – TV-14DV


Monday, April 4

9:00 p.m. ET/PT –TVPG

10:00 p.m. ET/PT – TV-14V


Tuesday, April 5

9:00 p.m. ET/PT – TV-14V

10:00 p.m. ET/PT – TV-PGV



Wednesday, April 6

9:00 p.m. ET/PT – TV-G


10:00 p.m. ET/PT – TV-G



Thursday, April 7

9:00 p.m. ET/PT – TV-PG


10:00 p.m. ET/PT – TV-PGL


Friday, April 8

9:00 p.m. ET/PT – TV-G


10:00 p.m. ET/PT – TV-PGL


Saturday, April 9

9:00 p.m. ET/PT – TV-PGV


Friday, March 25, 2011

The Popcorn Report: Guide to this week's movies with ratings and trailers

Popcorn’ photo by Petr Kratochvil
It’s time to make weekend family entertainment plans and see if this week’s current crop of films will be part of your schedule. The following report covers motion picture theatrical releases opening nationwide beginning Friday, March 25, 2011.

The movies listed below have a rating, which has been established by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and have been provided with an italicized commentary from the Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA).

If a film has not been provided with an official rating, additional information may, or may not be provided.

If a film is designated NC-17, very limited information will be furnished.

For your convenience, each film title links directly to the Internet Movie Data Base, which provides the most comprehensive listing about the movie’s storyline, and includes a trailer, cast and crew information, initial audience reaction (if prior screenings have taken place) and parent advisories when available.

As always, you are the single best judge for determining your child’s choice of entertainment.
Opened March 25, 2011 The 5th Quarter – Sport- PG-13- because of “some thematic elements.”

Opened March 25, 2011 Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules- Comedy- PG- because of “some mild rude humor and mischief.”

Opened March 25, 2011 Miral – Drama- PG-13 – because of “thematic material, and some violent content including a sexual assault.” NOTE: In limited release.

Opened March 25, 2011 Peep World Comedy – NOT RATED- NOTE: In limited release.

Opened March 25, 2011 Potiche – Comedy–R- because of “some sexuality.” NOTE: New York City and Los Angeles only.

Opened March 25, 2011 Sucker Punch – Action, Fantasy, Thriller-  PG-13- because of “thematic material involving sexuality, violence and combat sequences, and for language.”

Opened March 25, 2011 White Irish Drinkers Drama – R- because of “pervasive language, some sexuality and violence.” NOTE: Los Angeles and New York City only.

For information on films that opened the week of Friday, March 18, 2011, which included:   The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman;   Cracks (I);   Limitless;   The Lincoln Lawyer;   Lord of the Dance in 3-D;   The Music Never Stopped;   Paul;   Win Win and Winter in Wartime, please click on the following link:

For information on films that opened the week of Friday, March 11, 2011, which included:   Battle: Los Angeles;   Bill Cunningham New York;   Black Death;   Certified Copy;   Jane Eyre;   Kill the Irishman;   Mars Needs Moms and Red Riding Hood, please click on the following link:

For information on films that opened the week of Friday, March 4, 2011, which included:   Abel;   The Adjustment Bureau;   Beastly;   Happythankyoumoreplease;   I Saw the Devil;   Rango;   Red State;   Take Me Home Tonight and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,  please click on the following link:

For information on films that opened the week of Friday, February 25, 2011, which included:   Drive Angry 3-D;   The Grace Card;   Hall Pass;   Heartbeats;   Of Gods and Men and Rat Scratch Fever, please click on the following link:

.For information on films that opened the week of Friday, February 18, 2011, which included:   Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son;   Brotherhood;   Even in the Rain;   I Am;   I Am Number Four;   Immigration Tango;   Unknown and Vanishing on 7th Street, please click on the following link:

For information on films that opened the week of Friday, February 11, 2011, which included:   Cedar Rapids;   The Eagle;   Gnomeo & Juliet;   Just Go With It;   Justin Bieber: Never Say Never and Lavoe, please click on the following link:

For information on films that opened the week of Friday, February 4, 2011, which included:  Cold Weather;   The Other Woman;   The Roommate;   Sanctum; and Waiting for Forever, please click on the link below, where you will also find previous listings and links for prior weeks in January, as well as films that opened in 2010:

G GENERAL AUDIENCES (All Ages Admitted) PG PARENTAL GUIDANCE SUGGESTED (Some Material May Not Be Suitable for Children) PG-13 PARENTS STRONGLY CAUTIONED (Some Material May Be Inappropriate for Children Under 13) R RESTRICTED (Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian) NC-17 NO ONE 17 AND UNDER ADMITTED – As determined by the Rating Board/Motion Picture Association of America.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Musical Notes: Music industry news and releases for children and teens

‘PlayingGuitar’ by Petr Kratochvil

Welcome to “Musical Notes,” this weekly column is dedicated solely to music. Like our Friday “Popcorn Report,” which features the latest information on movies, this post highlights current news and announcements in the music industry, and introduces you to the best of everything in CDs, music videos, games, instruments and upcoming performances for children, teens and families. Be sure to check back each Thursday.

This week’s edition of Musical Notes focuses on a number of upcoming live performances from a diverse lineup of children’s music performers.  We’ll also introduce you to a CD that is making a physical difference in the lives of children, and take a look at a unique musical instrument, plus share something free and fun from the popular award-winning children’s entertainer Aaron Nigel Smith.


Saturday, March 26, 2011 10:30 a.m.

DVD Release Concert -Debbie and Friends with special guest star Bob McGrath of "Sesame Street" fame!

Performing at the Regent Theatre, 7 Medford Street, Arlington, Massachusetts.

Bob Mc Grath
Show Details from Regent Theatre: “Join Debbie Cavalier and her band for “Story Songs and Sing Alongs” and get ready for sing-along, dance-along and laugh-along family fun in this rockin’ musical journey through classic kids’ tales and original songs as this Boston based kindie pop band celebrate the release of their first DVD

The celebration will include interactive songs and stories, plus giveaways and special prices on the new DVD. Debbie and Friends popular cartoons will be rolling on the Regent’s big screen and as a special treat, Bob McGrath, of “Sesame Street” fame, will guest star in the show.

This full-band performance will include both Debbie and Friends songs and some classic favorites, with a cast of top-shelf musicians from Berklee College of Music, including Debbie Cavalier on vocals and keyboard, Rory McKenzie on bass, Eric Salt on guitar, Bill D’Agostino on drums, Mike Carrera on vocals… and surprise guest performers! Debbie and Friends will also perform with some of their own animated music videos—a real favorite with audiences of all ages! And, everyone goes home with a colorful Debbie and Friends tattoos!”
Debbie and Friends
For lots more information about Debbie and Friends: Story Songs and Sing Alongs along with excerpts from the newly released DVD, please follow this link to last week’s edition of 'Musical Notes'.

Ticket Prices (general admission):
$8.00 – Kids (12 and under)
$8.00 – Seniors
$10.00 – Adults
Regent Theatre members save $2.

Tickets may be ordered online through this link, or by calling Phone: {781} 646-4849
Fax: {781} 643-4747 NOTE: phone/online orders include additional $1 service charge

Saturday, March 26, 201111:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m.

Climb Aboard the “Jungle Gym” with Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players

Performing at Symphony Space, Peter Jay Sharp Theater, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street, New York City.

Show Details from Symphony Space Just Kidding series: Hailed by The New York Times as "a rising star in the world of children's music," and The Chicago Tribune as "among the kid-rock royalty," Justin Roberts' vocal style has been compared to James Taylor, Elvis Costello, Loudon Wainwright III , and even Green Day! With clever, funny songs dealing with important issues a young child might face (the horrors of school picture day, making friends with the monster under the bed) Roberts' lyrics are rich with sharp, comedic insight that make his shows a Symphony Space favorite year after year.
"Comic and soulful songs with creative, unique twists and turns that parents will enjoy as much as children." -LA Times.”

Ticket Prices
$13.00 to $27.00 and are available to purchase online at this link or by calling the box office at (212) 864-5400.

For your viewing enjoyment, below is a video of “Willy Was a Whale,” which is one of the musical selections being performed on Saturday at Symphony Space.

Saturday, March 26, 2011 – Doors open at 11:00 am performance at 11:30 a.m.

Peanut Butter and Jams Series welcomes Moona Luna a Family Concert

Performing at World Café Live, 3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

Show Details from the Peanut Butter and Jams series: Moona Luna is the new musical project from the Latin-Alternative group Pistolera. Inspired by the birth of her first child during the making of the last album, lead singer and songwriter Sandra Velasquez now brings family-friendly songs in Spanish and English that continue the band’s tradition of positive messages and accordion driven toe-tapping beats."

Ticket Prices
Adults $10, Children $7 Ages 1-12, Free for children under the age of one – ($2 off each adult ticket when you purchase with
CASH at our box office BEFORE day of show.). Plus a kid-friendly lunch buffet is available for purchase before and during every Peanut Butter and Jams show. Kids pay $7 and adults pay $10, all you can eat.

Advance tickets are available online by following this link.

Moona Luna will also be performing on Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 10:30 a.m. at Jammin’ Java, 227 Maple Avenue East, Vienna, Virginia 22180 (703) 255-1566 All tickets are $8 for everyone one year and older. For further information and tickets please follow this link.

For your viewing enjoyment, below is a video of “Todas Las Comidas (All The Foods)” from Moona Luna’s newly released album Piñata Party.



Have you ever heard of a Hapi Drum? It’s a “hand activated percussion instrument” with a “unique tone” that is “created by a tuned vibrating steel tongue.”

The Hapi is played by lightly striking the instrument with fingers or a mallet. The video below gives a fine demonstration of this easy to play instrument. This particular model is tuned to e minor.

For more information on the Hapi and to test drive the instrument, which is available in numerous keys, visit

Prices for the instrument range from $345.00 to $675.00 depending on the size and musical range of the instrument.


Singer/songwriter Amy Otey, might easily be dubbed the ‘First Lady of Musical Fitness,’ with her newest CD release, Fitness Rock and Roll.

She has performed at such varied venues as the Kimmel Center to the White House for the Easter Egg Roll.

Otey, who is an official advocate of the President’s Challenge Program, has dedicated this fifth album release to helping children become fit by embracing a healthier active lifestyle. Her award-winning body of musical work and her background as a physical fitness educator has placed her in a unique position to get kids engaged and moving with music.

Fitness Rock and Role is a fun energizing mix of tunes that beckons youngsters to get up off the couch to dance and move along while getting in shape.

All of Amy Otey’s CD’s are available through CD Baby, where you can sound sample the 12 song tracks from Fitness Rock and Roll as well as all of her other albums.

Fitness Rock and Roll is available in CD format for $13.99 and MP3 download for $0.99 per track, or $10.00 for the entire MP3 album.

Be sure to check out Otey’s free downloadable lesson plans that accompany this and her other CDs.


Here’s something absolutely delightful from that kid-friendly and charismatic award-winning children's musical artist, Aaron Nigel Smith, who is the featured musical guest on Between the lions.

Smith works tirelessly with the NEA Read Across America program to promote literacy through music.  Recently, he went into the studio to record a brand new song and music video called "In A Book," featuring his furry friend and co-star, Lionel the lion from the Emmy® Award Winning PBS Kids' program Between The Lions. Please enjoy and share the video featured below with your child, along with the FREE down-loadable MP3 featuring Aaron's son, Zion.

Smith, whose program, FUNdamentals of Music and Movement, serves thousands of children in
Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City and Boston, and over 3,000 schools, centers and daycares in his network; this program is vitally needed by the today’s young people. 

"In A Book," features Aaron's signature "islandy vibe" (as described by People Magazine) and his engaging teaching style is also available in his award-winning, entertaining CDs. Be sure to check these musical hits out at Music for Little People.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Book Report: Sharing the latest in books, apps and literary marketplace news

'Books' photo by Paula Slade

Welcome to the debut edition of “The Book Report.” This weekly column is dedicated solely to the best in books, apps and audio as well as literary news and events. Like our sister columns, “If it’s Tuesday it must be toys and tours,” Thursday’s “Musical Notes” and Friday’s “Popcorn Report,” which respectively features the information on toys and travel, music, and movies, this weekly post highlights the important world of literature as positive entertainment for children and teens. Be sure to check back each Wednesday.


The American Library Association (63,000 members strong) took a stance when they issued a press release on March 14 regarding e-book lending restrictions that were imposed on libraries on March 7 by publishing house giant HarperCollins.

Libraries nationwide are now limited to 26 loans per e-title from Harper Collins. This policy has not gone over well with librarians, who in this present day economy serve more patrons than ever, while their budgets have been severely constrained. This action limits the individual e-book license to roughly one year of checkouts per title..

Libraries have a long history of providing access to knowledge, information and the creative written works of authors,” said American Library Association (ALA) President Roberta Stevens. “We are committed to equal and free access for the millions of people who depend on their library’s resources every day. While demand has surged, financial support has decreased. The announcement, at a time when libraries are struggling to remain open and staffed, is of grave concern. This new limitation means that fewer people will have access to an increasingly important format for delivering information.”

A website, Boycott Harper Collins has been organized by two librarians, Brett Bonfield and Gabriel Farrell and provides a place for librarians to voice their concerns on this subject. Stay tuned - so far, Harper Collins has not responded.

When you build it they will certainly come if it’s done right and Rick Richter’s Ruckus Media Group was given a $3.5 million vote of confidence with Series A funding provided by the entrepreneurial group Alsop Louie Partners.

Ruckus entered the highly competitive app scene in October 2010 with five superbly produced apps that were featured in an earlier September post.

The freshman company currently has 15 app offerings (a new release featured below) and with this round of funding will expand their library as well their as their distribution reach beyond Apple’s iTunes and include Amazon’s App Store, Barnes and Noble Nook, Google’s Android Market and Research In Motion’s Blackberry App World,

Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and National Writing Project (NWP), two desperately needed educational literacy groups have been subject to a Congressional and Administration federal funding axe and need your help.

RIF costs every American taxpayer a paltry $0.25 per year, (translated $24.5 million total budget) but provides 4.4 million children (primarily low income) with a program of free books and learning opportunities at over 17,000 locations nationwide. NWP costs $25.6 million and reaches 130,000 teachers, 1.4 million- plus students. Studies show that both RIF and NWP programs work at promoting and providing literacy.

If you’re a concerned citizen or have children directly impacted by the withdrawal of these vital programs, link to these pages for RIF and NWP, which explain how to contact your legislators and others, in order to garner support on behalf of these organizations.


If you and your child live in the New York City area, or will be vacationing there this summer, the Thalia Kids’ Book Club Camp is taking reservations.

This is a unique camping experience geared toward avid readers and writers ages 9-12 (two one-week sessions) and 13-15 (one one-week session) based at Symphony Space (95th and Broadway).

Children have the opportunity to interact with their favorite children’s book authors and illustrators, taking part in book discussions and going on book related field trips around the city.

Three (different) one-week sessions (24 campers per week)

Week one: July 25 - July 29 - This week in now full
Week two: August 1 - August 5
Week three: August 8 - August 12

Note: campers may enroll in more than one session when space is available.

Camp hours9am - 4pm
Cost:  $650 per session/$625 for Symphony Space members.

To read more about this exciting opportunity, and the authors and illustrators who will be taking part in the camp, follow this link to Symphony Space.


The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Art in Amherst Massachusetts has announced the “Sixth Annual Carle Honors Honorees” awards that “celebrate the creative vision and long-term dedication of key individuals and organizations to the world of picture books and the many ways they open minds to art and literacy.”

Alexandra Kennedy, executive director of The Carle, says It is a thrill to honor these individuals whose work has contributed so positively to the world of children’s literature. Industry giants on their own, together these four talents comprise a sweeping scope of the breadth and impact of this exceptional genre.”

Lois Ehlert, Artist – Caldecott Honor winning author and illustrator

Jeanne Steig, Angel – Multimedia artist; donor of the William Steig picture book art archive to The Carle’s permanent collection

Michael di Capua, Mentor – Editor and art director of children’s books for more than 40 years

Karen Nelson Hoyle, Bridge – Professor and curator of The Children's Literature Research Collections at the University of Minnesota

These literary luminaries will be feted at New York City’s Guastavino’s on Thursday, September 22, 2011. Watch for additional information, or please contact Rebecca Miller Goggins, Director of Development for details at or by phoning (413) 658-1118.


AudioGo, the audio book publisher of BBC recordings are offering a half price sale from now until March 31, 2011.

These are children’s audio books as well as classic BBC radio programs, and original productions based on classic SF novels. 

Prices vary from approximately £3 to almost £10. ($4.81 to $16.03). Not all of the 740 titles, which are on sale, are available in the United States, but there still is a huge library to choose from for download.

All recordings are outstanding BBC quality productions and narrated in the “King’s English”; these are marvelous stories that reflect the best of literary accomplishments.


From the multiple entertainment hyphenate, Weird Al Yankovic comes a delightful new children’s picture book, When I Grow Up.

Geared toward the four-to-eight year-old marketplace, parents will also enjoy reading this offering out loud to kids because of Yankovic’s marvelously witty rhyming text, and delightful illustrations by Wes Hargis.

When I grow Up provides children permission (albeit silly) with all the delightful possibilities that their life can become.

Already a hot item at booksellers, and firmly ensconced on the New York Times Bestseller list, the video below gives you a sneak peek at what’s inside the covers.

The suggested retail price for this hardcover edition of When I Grow Up is $17.99. Best available pricing at the time of this posting is $7.72 through Amazon Marketplace.


It is not often that a film is adapted into a book; it’s almost always the other way around. One of these rare exceptions to the rule, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is coming to a bookseller near you in November this year.

The publisher is Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group and according to their press release, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: Things about Me will feature oil paintings based on photographs of Marcel in his home environment and will be aimed at readers of all ages. Razorbill will simultaneously publish an enriched, interactive digital version of the picture book, and an audio version of the text, recorded by Jenny Slate, will be available as a digital download.”

It was Slate, an actress, along with film director Dean Fleischer-Camp who created what has become an Internet award-winning sensational short , which since October 2010 has been viewed by over eight million persons via YouTube.

If you’re not familiar with Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, take a look at the video below. Talk about an idea whose time has finally come.



Another fine title has been launched from Ruckus Media Group (see news item above), the retelling of one of the world’s most beloved folktales, The Three Little Pigs, which is narrated by notable actress, Holly Hunter.

The original recording production of Three Little Pigs received the distinguished Parents’ Choice Gold Seal Award.

The app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. It requires iOS 3.2 or later and offers an interactive recording feature so a child can read along and record their voice.

The Three Little Pigs app is priced at $3.99 and may be purchased direct from iTunes.

Below for your enjoyment is a sneak peek preview of The Three Little Pigs.

It was only a matter of time and the 140th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass that an outstanding app by the same title makes its debut.

Check it out below, you are in for a wild trip.  Enjoy!

Through the Looking Glass is available through iTunes, and is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 2.2 or later and costs $1.99


Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord, author of Hands-On History: Middle Ages, Super Pop-up Reports for American History, and Multicultural Books to Make and Share, all from Scholastic Professional Books (teaching resources) shows us how to make an “accordion book.”  This is a great idea for having fun with the child in your life. Stop by her website; you’ll be delighted with what you find.

Gaylord’s artistic books are part of in permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art Library, Yale University Library, and Wellesley College Library.