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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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!


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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!

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.


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:

Crossy Road icon.jpeg

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!

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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.

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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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!


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:


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.


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.


Foodie Movie Review: Chef


This week, we’ll be trying to add more regular reviews of food-related movies. The Weekend Chef is handling this review:

We are regular patrons of our local library for books, music, and movies. There is usually a great selection of recently released movies on DVD as long as you’re patient and wait your turn on the hold list. It can sometimes take a few months to receive a popular movie. We received Chef on DVD a few weeks ago and were excited to watch it. Wouldn’t you know, Netflix made it available the same weekend the DVD came in so we ended up watching it streamed anyway.

The first thing you notice about Chef is the all-star cast. Starring Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, Jon Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, and Dustin Hoffman, among others, this is truly an ensemble cast where everyone gets to shine. In my opinion, though, the real star is the 10-year-old Emjay Anthony who plays Percy, the son of Jon Favreau’s chef Carl. Carl is a chef that, even though has a top job at a popular restaurant, has lost his way with his family and passion for cooking. Certain events cause Carl to leave the restaurant and travel across the country with his son and sous chef, cooking genuine food that he can feel good about making again.

The kitchen scenes seem very believable, looking behind the gloss and glamour of the dining room into the real lives of people who work in the food business. Jon Favreau must have done a lot of training to make the prep and cooking scenes look effortless as if he has been cooking in a restaurant himself for years.  Overall, the movie has a “feel-good” and “heart-warming” quality that will appeal to both genders. It’s a big-name film with a small-budget feel. Jon Favreau has been directing some recent mega films in the Iron Man series as well as “Cowboys and Aliens” but a lot of people (myself included) still associate him with the relatively small 1996 movie “Swingers”.  I feel “Chef” brings him back to basics himself and really presents some great and natural characters with heart and humor. Check it out while Netflix still has it. It’s a great food movie.


Ty The Pie Guy


There’s a new family cooking comedy show on youtube that you have to check out!  Ty The Pie Guy premiered January 14 on youtube.  I sat with the kids on one of their recent snow days and we checked out the videos.  Ty is a quirky, upbeat, and funny host.  My kids ages 6 and 8 were laughing aloud at Ty’s antics and kept wanting to see more.  We watched all the trailers, challenge, and episodes available.  In the first four and a half minute episode, seen pictured above, Sammy loves pizza, but his mom won’t let him eat it cold for breakfast.  So, he turns to Ty for help.  Ty comes up with a breakfast pizza.  When I think of breakfast pizza, I think of pizza dough with eggs, cheese and maybe some bacon or sausage.  Ty comes up with a pancake pizza with a raspberry topping.  Ty’s brainy little sister, Rose also adds some fun and interesting facts about the history of pizza.   The short episode is filled with humor and fun.  In another short video seen here, Ty’s sister Rose shows the viewer a magic tip for separating an egg.  Let’s just say even I was surprised, having never heard of separating an egg this way before.  And of course we will be trying this out the next time we have to separate an egg!

According to the Ty The Pie Guy website, the show’s goal is to inspire families to cook together, try new recipes and explore new cuisines while having fun in the kitchen.  This show supports all of the goals that we are trying to pursue with our own kids here at NY Foodie Family.

If you have young children who enjoy food and cooking, I highly recommend that you check out Ty The Pie Guy!  You can click here to go directly to the youtube channel.  New episodes air every Wednesday!