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Puffs (The off-Broadway Play}

(Thank you to Puffs: The Play for hosting NY Foodie Family. As always, all opinions are our own.)

Photo Credit: Hunter Canning

Harry Potter fans of all ages will enjoy Puffs or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and MagicPuffs tells the story of Wayne, a boy who grows up in New Mexico and discovers that he is a wizard.  When he gets to Hogwarts he is sorted into the Puffs house.  In this play, the Puffs are the “losers” where “Third or Nothing” is their motto.  In 90 minutes the play covers Wayne’s seven years as a Puff.  He forms an unlikely trio with nerdy math whiz, Oliver, and goth girl Megan, whose mother is a prisoner in Azkaban, and refuses to believe that she’s a Puff.  He and his fellow Puffs have to prove that they are not losers in order to help defeat, “he who shall not be named.”

Photo Credit: Hunter Canning

Written by Matt Cox, Puffs debuted off-Broadway in 2016.  It is one of several shows playing in the New Worlds Theatre on West 50th St.  Although there is no intermission, the ninety minutes fly by. Guests will laugh throughout the show, as humor abounds.  While you don’t need to be a Harry Potter fan, it helps to be familiar with books and story line to fully appreciate this play.  I applaud the actors and actresses, many of who take on the roles of multiple characters, during the show. The Saturday afternoon 2 PM show is supposed to be appropriate for kids ages 8+.  There was some jokes and humor that was mildly sexually suggestive, but my 10 year-old son luckily, didn’t seem to pick up on it.

My son and I read all of the Harry Potter books together and watched the movies.  As huge fans, my son and I both enjoyed Puffs a lot, even as a Slytherin and Ravenclaw.  The theatre is small and no seat is a bad seat.  If you like Harry Potter, you will likely enjoy seeing this show from the perspective of the Puffs!

The Details:
Puffs or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic
New Worlds Theatre
West 50th Street (between 8th & 9th Avenue)

Tickets:  Start at $52 and can be purchased online.

Performances:  Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday at 8 PM,  Saturday 2 & 8 PM, Sunday 3 and 7:30 PM

Tips:
*Snacks and drinks are available for purchase before and during the show.

*Cast members use the outside aisles.  Some front row seats enjoy a couple of small interactions.

*The theatre is a very short walking distance to the A,C, E subway.

4 Fitness Podcasts for Motivation {Self-Care Saturday}

4 Fitness podcasts to help motivate and educate you on all things fitness and health.

As many of you know, I love to listen to podcasts.  As I focus on exercise this month, I have been listening to different health and fitness podcasts to help educate and motivate myself.  Here are the top four fitness podcasts that I’ve been listening to.  These are all podcasts that are still producing new weekly episodes.  When I try out podcasts, I often listen to the most recent couple of episodes as well as the first couple.

Ascend Lifestyle Performance Podcast

Ascend Lifestyle Performance Podcast – This podcast is hosted by Tanja Shaw. Formerly known as the Fit and Vibrant You Podcast, it features conversations about, “fitness, nutrition, lifestyle, mindset and inspiration so you can think better, eat better and move better.”  There are currently 98 episodes to listen to with a mix of interviews and just Tanja talking on selected topics.  This podcast has recently only been releasing new episodes on the first of the month.

FIT CHICKS Chat

FIT CHICKS CHAT–  This has become my favorite fitness podcast to listen to.  Laura Jackson and Amanda Quinn host this podcast where they, “talk all things fitness, nutrition and wellness for women to help you live your healthiest and fiercest life inside and out.” Some episodes they do interviews, other times it’s just the two of them talking.  It’s like a conversation with friends and not preachy at all.  They have a website where they feature show notes from their podcasts and include resources and links to things that they talk about during the show.

Fitness, Food, and Freedom

Fitness, Food and Freedom – Jordan Stolz hosts this three times a week podcast that focuses on fitness, food and freedom.  The weekly episodes include Motivation Monday, Workout Wednesday and Foodie Friday.  Each episode is only about 20 minutes. There are 146 past episodes that you can catch up on! Check out the podcast’s website for additional resources.

Get-Fit Guy's Quick and Dirty Tips to Slim Down and Shape Up

Get-Fit Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Slim Down and Shape Up – The Get-Fit Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Slim Down and Shape Up are just like the title states – quick, short episodes (about 20 minutes each).  This is part of the Quick and Dirty Tips franchise.  Brock Armstrong hosts more than 370+ exercise-focused episodes.  Although the podcast sounds scripted (which it is since he also has a written post with the same exact info on his website), he packs a lot of useful info into a short amount of time.  This is not a podcast that I can listen to every week.  Instead, I like to pick and choose topics of interest to me.

What are your favorite fitness podcasts to listen to?

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Get a Golden Ticket to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Broadway!

The musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Many of you readers, like me, probably grew up reading Roald Dahl’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and watching the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder.  It was a childhood dream to be able to visit that chocolate factory! Although Tim Burton made a somewhat dark film in 2005 titled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory , starring Johnny Depp, Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka is still my favorite.

The joy of that infamous candy factory continues to resonate with children today, as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has made its way to Broadway.  The show, which opened in April of 2017, continues to attract crowds of all ages.  My eleven-year-old daughter and I recently caught a Saturday matinee showing.

the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, current home of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

(photo courtesy of Polk PR)

The show takes place in the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.  Opened in 1910 as the “Globe Theatre,” recent past productions at the Lunt-Fontanne include Finding Neverland, Motown: The Musical,  Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid.

The Candy Bar at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical.

(photo courtesy of Polk PR)

In a partnership with famous NYC candy store Dylan’s Candy Bar,  three concession stands in the theatre sell candy including giant lollipops and cotton candy tubs.  Wine, specialty cocktails and slushy drinks are available as well as the usual bottled water, soda and coffee.

I must warn you that you can’t go into this musical expecting it to be exactly like the movie.  There are too many production technicalities and scene changes for this to happen.  The musical adaptation is an updated, modern version, with social media references and different genres of music. There are even some references that younger children will most likely not understand.  Aside from a couple of classic songs from the movie, the musical features several original songs from Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman.

Act One sets the background of the poverty that Charlie endures and reveals the winners of the golden tickets.  The audience doesn’t get to visit the chocolate factory until Act Two.  I found the set to be surprisingly bare at times.  The whole scene where the children enter the edible candy room was set on a giant, wheeled cube, that lacked the “wow” factor that I had anticipated.  However, there were enough special effects and fun throughout the remaining act to keep us entertained.

(photo courtesy of Polk PR)

Two-time Tony winner Christian Borle does an amazing job playing Willy Wonka.  There are three young actors who rotate playing the role of little Charlie Bucket.  The day of our visit, Ryan Foust starred in the role.  The twelve-year-old actor stole my heart, perfecting the innocence of the character. I was a bit disappointed to see that only Charlie is portrayed by a child actor. The other ticket winners Augustus Gloop, Mike Teavee, Veruca Salt and Violet Beauregarde are all played by adults.  Mrs. Green adds humor throughout the show, selling her wares from her shopping cart.   The portrayal of the Oompa-Loompas was a fun addition to the show as well.

If you are going to shell out the requisite big bucks for a Broadway show, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory might be a safe bet for the family as it’s a story that most children are familiar with. It is a fun, family-friendly production that will entertain  and take viewers to a world of “pure imagination”, if only for a couple of hours.

The Details:

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (the musical)
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
205 West 46th Street
New York, NY 10036

Duration:  2 1/2 hours, with a 15-minute intermission

Showtimes:  Dates and times vary, please check the website for specifics

Price:  Tickets range from $69-$249 +, depending on date and seat choice

Tips:

*The show is recommend for ages 6+

*Be sure to check out the doors and signs around the theater entrance for some fun, humorous photos before or after the show.

*If you wait by the stage door after the show you can get autographs and photos with the cast!

Ryan Foust is one of the three boys who plays the role of Charlie Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

 

Amazonia: A Journey into the Amazon

Untitled

Amazonia
DVD release date:  October 4, 2016, Lionsgate
Rating:  G
Genre:  Family
Run time:  83 minutes
Source:  borrowed from the library

Synopsis from Lionsgate:
Amazonia seamlessly blends thrilling storytelling with breathtaking wildlife photography. As Saï, a tiny capuchin monkey, departs the big city for a new life, his plane is forced to land in the Brazilian rain forest. Abandoned and alone, he forages for food while observing the jungle’s endless varieties of wildlife. As predators approach, Saï’s incredible instincts rescue him from danger at the last minute. One fateful day, he learns he’s not the only capuchin in the Amazon…

Review:  This film follows Sai, a capuchin (a monkey that lives in Central and South America) who is a domesticated monkey, working in a circus.  He’s being transported on a plane when it crashes in the Brazilian rain forest.  The viewer follows Sai as he acclimates to his new environment and learns to survive in the wild.

The film is narrated by Martin Sheen.  Although the film is fictional, lots of factual information about the flora and fauna of the rain forest is presented.  Although this is a fictional movie, it provides lot of useful information about the rain forest.  The scenery is breathtaking with lots of close ups of the various insects and animals that Sai encounters, as well as the Amazon River.

As much as I’d love to visit the Amazon rain forest, it is unlikely that a trip there will happen anytime soon!  So, I was happy that my kids got to see beautiful video images of the rain forest in this movie.  While watching this, my son ask what the difference between a jungle and a rain forest is, or if they are the same thing.  After a little research we discovered that the Amazon rain forest is also referred to as Amazonia  or the Amazon Jungle.  Merriam-Webster defines a jungle as, “an impenetrable thicket or tangled mass of tropical vegetation.”  So, it appears parts of the rain forest can be considered jungle-like.

The DVD has special features including “The Making of Amazonia” and “Minuscule Bonus Episodes.”  They are filmed in French with English subtitles.

I watched this DVD with my 8 and almost 11-year-old children.  The kids thought it was “cute” and they both were engrossed watching it.  As a huge lover of monkeys, I too enjoyed watching this movie. To be honest, I’m not sure that this movie will hold the interest of all children.  I recommend this movie for older elementary kids, age 7+.  This is not a fast-moving, action-packed movie, but dependent on the child’s interest level, younger children may enjoy watching this movie.

Rating:  Recommend for children 7+

Boy & The World: A Review

Length: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Rating: PG
Animated Family Movie

Boy & The World is a Brazilian movie that had a limited USA release in December 2015. It came out on DVD this past July. The movie is told through bursts of colors and sounds, with no dialogue.  It opens with Cuca, a stick figured drawn boy, watching his father go off on a train to the city to find work.  Cuca embarks on an adventure to look for his father and reunite his family.  As his journey progresses, the film gets darker.   Through music and animation the movie shows the detrimental effects of industrialization and urbanization.

I borrowed this movie from the library, not knowing much about it.  When the movie opened with a kaleidoscope of colors and sounds and simple, child-like figures, I wasn’t sure how well it would go over with my eight and ten-year-old children.  Would it be too childish for them?  No, in fact, it wasn’t. It was actually a very abstract film in which I voiced a running commentary to explain what was going on. Despite my reservations, both children were enthralled with the movie.  Even if they don’t understand everything that’s going on, younger children will enjoy the bright colors and beautiful music!

The bonus material on the DVD was enlightening as we got to see how the movie was created.  My son loves to draw and he was impressed to see how the original artwork was created and then made into the movie.  Music and sounds played a pivotal role in the movie and it was fun to see how different materials were used to get the targeted sound effects.

This movie has won over 40 film festival awards and after viewing, it is understandable why.  My children and I highly recommend this movie.

We borrowed this movie from our local library.  The movie is out on DVD and available for purchase. It is also available (at a cost) to stream from Amazon Video.

Fall 2016 Tween Movie Previews

Many children’s movies premiered over the summer, when the kids were home from school.  We saw The Secret Life of Pets in the theater, but Finding Dory, The BFG, Angry Birds and Captain America: Civil War were also all playing this summer.  If your kids, like mine, are movie lovers, have no fear!  There are plenty of movies coming out this fall that will interest your tweens.  Check out this round up of some of the movies my kids are most interested in seeing:

Middle School:  The Worst Years of My Life (October 7, 2016)  – We own and both my kids have read James Patterson’s book (with the same title) that this movie is based on. I know that when the movie comes out in October that they will want to see it.  So, I have to read this book ASAP!  This movie tells the story of Rafe Khatchadorian who is tired of all the rules at his middle school.  He and his friends come up with a plan to break every school rule.  You may want your child to read the book before seeing the movie.  If they enjoy it, there are currently eight other books in the Middle School series.

Trolls (November 4, 2016) –  This is DreamWorks Animation’s newest animated film.  In this movie, trolls Branch and Poppy embark on a journey to save their town from the Bergens.  I’m excited that characters are voiced by Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake (two of my faves!) as well as Zooey Deschanel, Russell Brand, Gwen Stefani and James Corden.  Besides the regular movie merchandising, I’m sure troll dolls, popular back when I was a child, will likely be making a comeback with the arrival of this movie.

Rogue One:  A Star Wars Story (December 16, 2016) – This is the movie that my son (and husband) are probably most excited about seeing this year!  This is the first Star Wars stand-alone film, in which a group of Rebel spies attempt to steal the plans for the Death Star.

Sing (December 21, 2016) – This animated movie features Buster, a koala, who hosts a singing competition to drum up business for his theater.  The characters are voiced by a cast including Scarlett Johansson, Matthew McConaughey, Nick Kroll and Reese Witherspoon.   Ever since we saw previews of this movie over the summer, my son is excited to see it!

Other movies coming out this fall that your children may be interested in include:

The Wild Life (September 9) – This animated movie was originally titled Robinson Crusoe.  As the original title suggests, this movie, based on the book by Daniel Defoe tells the tale of how Crusoe came to be stranded on a tropical island.

The Queen of Katwe (September 23) – This movie is based on the biography of Phiona Mutesi, written by Tim Crothers.  Mutesi is a child from Uganda who is trained to be a chess champion.  This looks like a feel-good family movie, which will surely appeal to chess players of all ages.

Storks (September 23) – An animated movie about storks who have moved on from delivering babies to packages.  However, they get an order for a baby to be delivered and have to figure out how to do it.  Characters are voiced by stars including Andy Samberg, Jennifer Aniston and Ty Burrell.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (November 18) – If your children are Harry Potter fans then you they will want to see this movie!  This movie is based on the book by J.K. Rowling that is a textbook (reference book) of all of the mythical creatures.  We are currently in the middle of reading through the Harry Potter series and will likely wait until we finish the series and read this book before watching it.

Moana (November 23) – This is Disney’s latest animated movie, featuring Moana, a girl who sails the ocean on a journey to help her family.  While we are big Disney movie fans, we will most likely wait to see this one on DVD.

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Read It Before You Watch It – Fall 2016

Read It Before You Watch It Fall 2016

As a reader of this blog, you know that I am a huge bookworm.  I also love to watch movies.  However, I have mixed feelings about books being made into movies.  As a general rule, I have to read the book prior to seeing the movie.  I like to get my own images of the characters in my head as I’m reading.  And then once I’ve seen the movie, my visions are ruined because I then associate the movie actors and actresses with the characters.  Case in point, even now, while listening to the audio books of Harry Potter with the kids, Daniel Radcliffe IS Harry Potter.  Okay, that example may be a bit extreme, but doesn’t everyone think of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen?!

Second, it is very rare for me to watch a movie that is better than the book.  I end up feeling like most book to movie adaptations are just okay.  However, a couple of movies that come to mind that I thought were pretty good include Gone Girl and Room.  I’ve rounded up a list of movies that have been adapted from books that are coming out this fall.  Read it before you watch it!

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The Light Between Oceans(September 2) This book was the winner of the 2012 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction.  I liked the book, but wasn’t wowed like so many other readers.  I will probably wait to see this one on DVD.

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Bridget Jones’s Baby(September 16) In a rare occurrence, the movie Bridget Jones’s Baby the book will be released AFTER the movie!  So, this one you can’t read first, since the movie comes out on September 16 (my birthday!) and the book will not be published until October 11.  However, if you’ve read any of the Bridge Jones books then you are familiar with the character.

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Queen of Katwe(September 23) This is a non-fiction book about a Uganda, teenage chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi.  This book sounds interesting so I may end up reading it and then watching the movie on DVD.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children(September 30) This is a book that I haven’t read and am not sure that I want to.  Paranormal, horror, sci-fi, supernatural fantasy are not my typical reading genres.  On the same note, I’m not really sure this is a movie that I want to see! LOL!

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The Girl On the Train (October 7) Out of all of the movies, this is probably the one that I’m most looking forward to.  I really liked the book and think it will be a great suspense movie!

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Inferno(October 14) I loved Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.  Somehow, I stopped reading the Robert Langdon series after that.  I even have #3, The Lost Symbol sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read.  So, I definitely won’t be seeing this movie until it comes out on DVD so I have some time to read both The Lost Symbol and Inferno.

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The Lost City of Z (October 15 – New York Film Festival) – This is a non-fiction book about British explorer Percy Fawcett.  I don’t usually watch action/adventure type movies and I know that I won’t be reading this book, so I’m not sure about this one.

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A Monster Calls(October 18) This is another book/movie that falls into the fantasy/horror genre….which is not my thing.  I’ll be skipping this one as well, but I’d love to hear what others think of it.

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American Pastoral(October 28) This book won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize so it’s a relatively older book to be made into a movie.  Based on the mixed reviews of this book on Goodreads, the movie actually sounds more promising.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (November 18)  This is another book that I have yet to read, so will not be seeing the movie until DVD.  It will probably be awhile even then, since I’d like to first finish the Harry Potter series with the kids.

Are you looking forward to seeing any of these movies?

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Children’s Monthly Entertainment Review {September Edition}

Children's Monthly Sept

Happy first day of October!  The days are flying by!  Yesterday the Weekend Chef shared some of his September favorites. Today we thought we’d share what our children were reading, watching and playing this past month.  With school and activities starting, there has been more reading going on and less movie watching and playing with electronics!

Movies:
All of these movies were borrowed from the library and watched on DVD.

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The Descendants – Summary from Disney: A present-day idyllic kingdom where the benevolent teenage son of King Adam and Queen Belle offers a chance of redemption for the trouble making offspring of Disney’s classic villains: Cruella De Vil (Carlos), Maleficent (Mal), the Evil Queen (Evie) and Jafar (Jay).   This is a musical film which the kids loved!  The movie focused on the children of classic Disney villains.  They have been singing songs and watching music videos from the movie ever since they watched this.  I’m not sure how we had missed hearing about this when it first debuted on the Disney channel this past July.   I enjoyed the lessons from this movie that you don’t always have to follow in your parent’s footsteps and that you can make your own decisions and be your own person.  The kids and I talked about this after watching the movie.

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Lemonade Mouth – Summary from IMDb: Five high school kids, Olivia, Wendall, Stella, Charlie, and “Mo”, meet in detention and start a band based off the lemonade vending machine outside the detention room. This is another musical drama that had originally premiered on the Disney Channel in April 2011.  The kids were excited to see Bridgit Mendler starring in this, as they are familiar with her from the Disney Channel show Good Luck Charlie.  While the kids enjoyed watching this movie, their favorite of the month was definitely The Descendants.

The five Guardians, sporting various weapons, arrayed in front of a backdrop of a planet in space.

Guardians of the Galaxy – Summary from IMDbA group of intergalactic criminals are forced to work together to stop a fanatical warrior from taking control of the universe.  Our son had been asking to see this movie but we had said no, due to the PG-13 rating.  Several weeks ago, the Weekend Chef watched the movie (yes, on his own, this is one that I wasn’t interested in watching!).  Besides some bad language and fighting, he deemed it okay for the kids to watch.  On their most recent day off from school they watched this and liked it.  And yes, I sat there on the couch with them (reading) while they watched.  I had no clue what was going on, but the kids enjoyed the movie.  My daughter did note that she didn’t like Rocket Raccoon because, “he used a lot of bad language.”

Apps/Video Games:

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Crossyroad (ipod app) I’ve mentioned this app on a Friday Favorites when my son first got into this game.  Weeks later and he is STILL obsessed with it!  It’s basically a modern version of the classic Frogger game where you try to get your character to cross the road without getting hit.  There are a lot of different characters that you can collect, with different characters having different scenery.  His highest score is 259 and he’s really proud of himself!

Minecraft logo.svg

Minecraft  (ipod app)- This past Valentine’s Day we got the kids Minecraft for their ipods.  Yes, we were late to the Minecraft game and they have been making up for it!  This is still a favorite game of theirs.  While I was a bit hesitant in the beginning, not knowing much about it, I am seeing the educational benefits of this game.  This game reinforces creativity and problem-solving.  My son has created amazing worlds with portals and buildings that even have me impressed!

Wipeout The Game (Nintendo Wii game) –  The kids sporadically play the  Nintendo Wii.  Way back when we still had cable television, we used to DVR Wipeout and watch it together as a family.   What’s more fun than watching contestants embarrass themselves attempting ridiculous obstacles?  At a recent visit to a local, used children’s clothing and toy store I found this Wipeout game for the wii for only $5.  The kids have been having lots of fun playing this game.

Books:
My kids are constantly reading!  Neither they nor I track all the books that they read…..but I know it’s a lot!  This is a summary of mostly picture books that we’ve read together at bedtime or chapter books that both my son and I have read.  My daughter is reading multiple books at any one time and there would be too many to list here!  The below ratings are out of 5 stars.

These books have been borrowed from either our town library or the school library.

Picture Books:

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Blown Away by Rob Biddulph (3 Stars) This picture book, told in rhyme tells the story of a penguin who is taken on a journey when he is blown away by a kite.  He ends up in the jungle but eventually makes his way back home.  This was an okay read for us.

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The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt  – (4 Stars)  This is the sequel to the picture book The Day The Crayons Quit, which is also worth checking out!  This book is told through postcards and letters and contains humorous illustrations and text.

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Fright Club by Ethan Long – (3 Stars)  A new Halloween book in which the Fright Club is practicing their scare plan for Halloween night.  When some “cute” little critters try to join Fright Club they must prove themselves to the veteran members. This was an okay Halloween read.

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Monster Day At Work by Sarah Dyer – (3 Stars)  Monster is going to work with his dad.  The colorful, humorous illustrations add to this story which overall was an okay read.

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New Shoes by Susan Lynn Meyer – (4 Stars) This picture book deals with segregation during the 1950’s when Ella Mae goes to get new shoes but can’t even try them on because she’s African American.  She and her cousin Charlotte come up with a plan to make buying shoes easier for the members of their community.  The Weekend Chef and I enjoyed this story as much as the kids.  I didn’t realize that during the Segregation period African Americans couldn’t try on shoes before buying them.

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One Word From Sophia by Jim Averbeck – (4 Stars)  Sophia wants a giraffe for her birthday and in this book tries to convince different family members why it’s a good idea.  I enjoyed the racially mixed family, the colorful illustrations that include Sophia’s drawings and charts, the advanced vocabulary (that is defined in the story and in a glossary at the end) and the surprise ending!  A cute read worth checking out!

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The Perfect Percival Priggs by Julie-Anne Graham – (4 Stars) Percival and his parents are perfect.  One day, Percival makes an error and worries that his parents won’t love him.  His parents help him realize that it’s okay not to be perfect.  I enjoyed how this book taught the lesson that you should do what you enjoy and not worry about being perfect.

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Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder – (4 Stars)  This book told the story of dancer Anna Pavlova through beautiful pictures and text.  While younger readers probably won’t enjoy the beauty of either, this book is a treat for adults!

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Tell Me a Scary Story by Carl Reiner (3 Stars) A father tells his son a scary story about a little boy who meets his neighbor Mr. Neewollah and has an adventure.  Our book came with a CD in which Reiner reads the story.  While I was unfamiliar with comedian Carl Reiner, my husband is a fan.  This was another okay Halloween story.

Chapter Books:

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The Escape of the Deadly Dinosaur (Secret Agent Jack Stalwart #1) by Elizabeth Singer Hunt (3 Stars) I am always on the lookout for new books for my son.  This is the first of fourteen books in the Secret Agent Jack Stalwart series.  This chapter book stars Jack Stalwart, a 9-year old secret agent.  This particular story involves Jack being assigned to find a missing dinosaur bone.  Readers must remember this is a sci-fi/fantasy book for entertainment purposes, when they read about all of Jack’s secret agent gadgets and a dinosaur coming to life.  The book interested my son enough that he’d like to read the next book in the series.

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Race The Wild #1: Rain Forest Relay by Kristin Earhart (4 Stars)  See our full review of this book here.

 

Foodie TV Review: Mind of a Chef, Season 1

The first season of Mind of a Chef is currently available on Netflix but originally aired on PBS at the end of 2012. The show finished its third season. Each 16 episode season features a different chef or chefs and takes and a look into their inspirations and quests to bring new creative food to the table. Anthony Bourdain acts as both executive producer and narrator. I’m sure we’ll be seeing him again in an upcoming review as he hosts several food-related shows. Season one exclusively features chef David Chang, the award-winning chef and creative mastermind behind the Momofuku restaurant empire. It’s easy to see why he deserves his own season as he is widely regarded as one of the best things to happen to food in the last decade.

The series explores his childhood and heritage while following him around the world. He meets with old and new friends during his travels to locations such as Japan, Spain and various US stops to share the foods that made him who is today and the innovations that he is developing now. He takes the heritage and history of food and presents it in a new and unique way. He also takes a look at some of the other chefs that inspire him and drive him to continue innovating. David Chang has certainly left a mark on food and future generations of new chefs are looking to him as inspiration to become great in their own right. We have not yet had the opportunity to eat at any of his restaurants but look forward to doing so. Watching the show gives a detailed and inside look at his life of cooking and is a great way to see an excellent chef at the top of his game. Next step is to eat some of this greatness.

Have any of you enjoyed David Chang’s restaurants? Please share some of your favorite experiences in the comments section.

Foodie Movie Review: Vegucated

Vegucated (2011) Poster

This week’s edition of Weekend Chef’s Foodie Movie Review is based on another Netflix find: Vegucated. This 2011 documentary was written by, directed by, and stars Marisa Miller Wolfson. She became a vegan when she moved to NY from the Midwest and she shares her reasons and philosophies as to why she became one of those “crazy people” herself. The film focuses on a challenge that she posted on Craigslist: to find 3 typical New Yorkers who could give up the Standard American Diet for 30 days and become vegans. She filmed the 3 participants before the challenge began. What would they miss most about giving up meat and cheese, etc? What did their starting health look like? What was their understanding of the food chain from beginning to end?

During the 30 days, Marisa and her test subjects not only committed to a new diet, but they also sought to be  educated about where food comes from. This really had us thinking about not only our personal health but the health of the planet and our kindness to other creatures that we all eat every day. There were plenty of moments that really woke us up to the state of the world around us. Since watching the film, we have really been conscious about reducing our meat intake and the sources of our food that we buy.

I won’t go into detail about the course of the film as I want all of you to go check it out and report back. Has anyone already seen Vegucated? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.