Ah yes, spring is in the air! The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, the snow is… oh wait a minute, we live in Orange County! If you are looking for some spring activities this weekend, why not take in a movie with the family or see a play?
You see, over the last week, I’ve had the privilege of seeing two solid entertaining performances, one on stage and another at a movie theater.
If you are a fan of the TV Show, “I Love Lucy,” and even if you aren’t, I encourage you to catch “I Love Lucy” Live On Stage at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. It runs till Sunday, March 23rd, 2014. For more information and tickets, visit ilovelucy.com and scfta.org The show takes audience members back to 1952 as members of the Desilu Playhouse studio audience where they (You – the audience member) await the filming of two hilarious and oh-so-familiar I Love Lucy episodes. The actors were spot-on, especially the actress who played Lucy (Sirena Irwin), who brought Lucy Ricardo and all her red-headed charm to life! The chemistry of the actors who played Ricky Ricardo, Ehtel and Fred Mertz was also wonderful.
If you are looking for something you can take the kids to, I recommend “The Muppets Most Wanted” movie which I was fortunate to see with my son at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. First of all, I LOVE watching movies at the El Capitan as it makes the movie extra special.
By now, your kids are all probably saying “I am Ker-mit D’ Frog” with a Russian accent thanks to trailers like these:
In a nutshell, the Muppets movie is a lot like the old TV show of our youth with a rollicking plot, lots of cameo appearances by current actors and great musical numbers. In my opinion, it is better than the previous Muppets movie with Walter and Jason Segal. The movie opens today. Go see it!
This week, I had the honor of meeting some amazing people at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). And I am not just talking about the actors of the movie “The Ultimate Life,” who were there to present a gift to the patients. I am actually talking about the incredible children who were there, who despite their medical conditions, were positive and resilient.
The people behind “The Ultimate Life” movie led by executive producer Rick Eldridge, presented CHOC with a mobile entertainment unit, containing tons of movies and video games, that could be wheeled around to patient’s rooms. “We try to look for coping mechanisms in the hospital and distraction techniques to get their [the patients’] mind off illness or injury – the reason why they are at CHOC. So, to bring this mobile entertainment system to the hospital is fantastic, and I know the patients in our Neuroscience Unit especially will appreciate it, because many of them are kind of restricted to their rooms while they are being monitored. It’s an excellent start to the holiday season and the gift of giving,” said Kara Kipp, Major Gift Officer of CHOC’s Children’s Foundation.
Also present were cast members Drew Waters, Abigail Mavity and Austin James, who interacted with the children and answered questions. “Our movie was based on remembering moments and the positive moments of life and allowing yourself to live off of those instead of the negatives,” “The Ultimate Life” cast member Drew Waters (best known for his role on Friday Night Lights) said to the patients. It was such a treat to see Austin James play video games with young Carlos and Abigail Mavity (who I remember from her role in the Disney show Zeke and Luther) chatting animatedly with Edsel.
The cast also participated in an interview at the Ryan Seacrest Studio located in the hospital. They spoke eloquently about the dedication and also touched briefly on their lives and careers. The interview was made available via closed-circuit throughout the hospital and a clip will be shared with the Seacrest Foundation website.
Now about the movie… if you are a fan of books like “The Shack” and other faith-based, positively uplifting stories, then you are probably familiar with the Jim Stovall’s bestselling book “The Ultimate Gift.” That book was turned into a movie in 2006, starring a young Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) and James Garner.
Well, “The Ultimate Life” is a prequel/sequel to that movie. It tells the story of Jason Stevens, who after receiving life-changing gifts from his billionaire grandfather, finds himself in need of his guidance once again. This time, he finds his grandfather’s journal which leads him on another life affirming, heartwarming journey. “The Ultimate Life” will be available on Blu-ray™ and DVD on December 10th.
What’s better than discounts on Black Friday? FREE stuff. That’s why I’m happy to share some free apps from our friends at fingerplay.com, which I’ve featured in my “Plugged In,” column in the magazine. In celebration of Black Friday and Cyber Monday – here are five of Fingerprint’s fan favorites for FREE (say that 5 times fast!) from 11/29-12/2.
GET ROCKY – embark on a tilt-and-slide geology-packed quest to the earth’s core.
Pirate Scribblebeard’s Treasure – Doodle your way to Pirate Scribblebeard’s Treasure and watch the drawings coming to life in an animated tale of buried loot.
Big Kid Life: Firefighter – Preschool Learn & Play to save kitties and puppies just like a firefighter – all while practicing numbers and shapes.
Lil’ Kitten Shopping Cart Premium- where preschoolers can hone their math and budgeting skills. Children will be busy shopping for groceries and learning about budgets while having a lot of fun with Lil Kitten Shopping Cart!
In the spirit of Halloween, I present to you two new series for children that tackle scary themes but are really not that scary.
Three new books by Catherine Leblanc, illustrated by Roland Garrigue are more cute than scary – “How to Outwit Witches,” “How to Get Rid of Ghosts,” and “How to Ward Off Wolves.” These books hope to help younger kids 4-7y.o.banish their fears while having fun. There are cute stickers at the end of the book too!
Meanwhile, fans of old school R.L.Stine Goosebumps will enjoy the new “Tales from Lovecraft Middle School” series by Charles Gilman. The series stars 7th grader Rober Arthur and his friends. Each book in the series features an eerie but cool morphing cover thanks to what is called as lenticular printing.
“Substitute Creature” is the latest book in the series which includes “Professor Gargoyle,” “The Slither Sisters,” and “Teacher’s Pest.” You can find out what happens to Robert and his friends, when they have to spend the night at Lovecraft Middle School because of a giant nor’easter that has blanketed their town in snow. Please note that these books are not for the faint at heart. Recommended for kids 10-up.
Check out this cool book trailer made – looks like it would make for a nice kids’ show too.
WIN A BOOK!NO TRICKS, JUST TREATS!
Leave a comment below to win one of the books I’ve mentioned. Let us know what your favorite horror story or book is… 2 winners will be chosen on November 1st and contacted via email.
The Segerstrom Center for the Arts is a wonderful place to visit. The last time I took my kids there was during a Target Free Event with the Pacific Symphony last summer. I decided to check on their family-friendly offerings for the fall and here are some interesting upcoming shows that include science, comics, art and music, of course.
Pacific Symphony’s Halloween Masquerade
It’s a family musical morning concert presented by Farmers and Merchants Bank! Halloween symphony favorites including “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter by John Williams and and selections from Stravinsky’s “The Firebird,” will be featured along with famous Latin American compositions to inspire imaginations and introduce children to different cultures.
Children and their families are invited to come dressed in a costume or mask and also to attend the Musical Carnival before the 10am and 11:30am concerts so they can participate in hands-on activities including “Meet the Musicians,” “Ask the Orchestra,” mask and pumpkin decorating and more.
The next Family Musical Morning is scheduled for Saturday, December 14th with the annual “Nutcracker for Kids” featuring Festival Ballet Theater.
As part of Segerstrom Center’s Family Series, “The Intergalactic Nemesis ‒ Book Two: Robot Planet Rising” a unique multi-media event will run from November 8 – 10 at the Samueli Theater. This show is a sequel to last season’s hit show (The Intergalactic Nemesis ‒ Book One: Target Earth), which follows the adventures of Molly Sloan and Timmy Mendez two weeks after the ending of Book One. This one-of-a-kind theatrical experience mashes up radio drama with more than 1,000 incredibly electrifying comic book visuals. No previous Intergalactic experiences are required to enjoy the show.
MythBusters: Behind the Myths
My sons and I are fans of the TV show so I am eager to see what Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, co-hosts of the the Emmy-nominated Discovery series MythBusters, will do at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The MythBusters will be in town for only one performance on November 23 at 7:30 p.m. The duo will present a fantastical evening of on-stage experiments, audience participation, rocking video and behind-the-scenes stories.
Visit scfta.org for ticket information. Segerstrom Center for the Arts is located at 600 Town Center Drive Costa Mesa, CA 92626 Tel. (714) 556-2121.
Last year, I was one of the fortunate TedX attendees who saw this young man share his story about developing a better test for pancreatic cancer. Jack Andraka, now 16, has a new mission: to make knowledge a basic human right. Here’s the article on Mashable. You can also view Jack’s 2012 TedX OC talk here.
Jack is just one of the inspiring voices at a TedX conference. This year, the TEDx Orange Coast Event was held over two days, at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.
Here are some of my photos from the event.
And if you’d like to read more inspiring quotes and takeaways, read my Storify.
Here are some things to inspire some family fun for you and your family this weekend:
Sunday Sept 29
The Annual OC Children’s Book Festival- For info, visit kidsbookfestival.com
Surf City Surf Dog in Huntington Beach – For info, visit surfcitysurfdog.com
SAVE THE DATE
October 11-13, 2013
Big Orange Book Festival
I have a confession to make. I missed ‘The Croods’ in theaters last summer. So I was happy to know it was soon coming out on DVD and Blu-ray. But what made me even more excited was the invitation to meet the creators and visit legendary DreamWorks studios.
The writing-directing team of Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco gave a live behind the scenes commentary to the movie, and gave us insight into their creative process. “We knew we had to get the family dynamic right,” they said.
Here’s a look at the movie.
And here is a little Ptch video I put together showing our DreamWorks Tour, which took us to the recording studio, motion capture studio and other interesting places in the serene Glendale campus.
‘The Croods’ is now out on Digital HD and will be out on Blu-ray and DVD on October 1st. Check out the free iPad and iPhone app created by Rovio Entertainment (the team behind Angry Birds) too with lots of activities for the kids
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! Actually Theodore Geisel, American author, poet, cartoonist, best known as Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2nd, 1904. His birth date may be tomorrow but today we celebrate Read Across America Day. Read Across America is an award-winning literacy program designed to get students excited about reading, founded by the National Education Association in 1997 through a partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., and Random House. It is the nation’s largest reading celebration. Chances are, your kids are celebrating with some Green Eggs and Ham or their favorite Seuss books at school today. Also, Pretend City is holding an activity with “The Cat in the Hat” and other beloved stories this afternoon. Check pretendcity.org for more information.
SEUSSICAL Presented by Woodbury Elementary School in Irvine
And speaking of Dr. Seuss, the kids at Woodbury Elementary School in Irvine are presenting their annual spring musical which combines two theater productions – Seussical the Musical and Joseph and The Technicolor Dreamcoat. The show started yesterday and will run until tomorrow, March 2nd. Proceeds from the show benefit the Irvine Public School Foundation (IPSF). For information, contact Susan Lyons, Musical Producer and Woodbury Elementary PTA President at (949) 230-1723 or email suzielyons(at) gmail.com
Change is in the air. As many of you already know OC FAMILY and Churm Media recently joined the Freedom Communications Family, publishers of the OC Register. For readers of our blogs here and print magazine, the changes have all been good – in that it means we’re going to write and create even more awesome stories to share with you all.
It’s hard to believe I’ve been writing this “By the Book” column for almost two years now and writing about books for the print version of OC FAMILY as well. Reading is my passion and through this assignment I have had the pleasure of discovering and sharing with you all some really neat books for kids. I’ve also met interesting authors, some of whom have since become my friends. As the magazine evolves, so do we who contribute to it. (Right, Suz?)
And so, I am happy to announce that starting with next month’s issue, my BOOKS column will expand to include other media, including video games, apps, dvds, movies, and music. The section will be called PLUGGED IN.
I will continue to write about and support books and authors but now I can share with you other great things for our kids to read, watch, listen to and play with.
Thank you all so much for your continued support of OC FAMILY.
So now, tell me… is there anything in particular you’d like me to report on? League of Legends vs. Minecraft? Club Penguin vs. Wizard 101? Monster High? The Harlem Shake? Who is Tobuscus and what is a YouTube star? Comment below, email or tweet me. Email bythebook.ocfamily[at]gmail.com or tweet me @suburbanmama.
And now as a treat, here’s what supposed to be the original Harlem Shake video that started the craze.
Pop quiz: What do books A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’engle), Holes (Louis Sachar) and The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman)have in common? They are all Newbery Medal winners. The Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the American Library Association for the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year.
This year’s Newbery Medal went to: “The One and Only Ivan,” written by Katherine Applegate.The book is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers. The book is about a gorilla named Ivan, who is more accustomed to human life than he is to jungle life. The author blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s first-person narration.
Take a look at this official book trailer.
Three Newbery Honor Books were also named: “Splendors and Glooms” by Laura Amy Schlitz; “Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon” by Steve Sheinkin; and “Three Times Lucky” by Sheila Turnage.
For younger readers, there are the Caldecott Medal-winning books. Previous winners may sound familiar as they have all become classics like “Make Way for Ducklings,” “Jumanji,” and “The Polar Express.”
The Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association. This year’s Caldecott Medal winner is “This Is Not My Hat,” illustrated and written by Jon Klassen. The book, published by Candlewick Press, is about a tiny fish who finds a hat and knows it’s wrong to steal a hat but…well, take a look at this little teaser:
Five Caldecott Honor Books also were named: “Creepy Carrots!” illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds; “Extra Yarn,” illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett; “Green,” illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger; “One Cool Friend,”llustrated by David Small, written by Toni Buzzeo; and “Sleep Like a Tiger,” illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue.
If you haven’t picked up a copy of this month’s issue of OC FAMILY, I hope you do soon. In it, I write about Books for Cooks. So if you have a budding chef at home or would just like to have fun cooking with your little one, enter this givewaway TODAY. Tell us, “What do you like cooking with your child?” Comment below and be entered to win one of the cook books featured in our February issue. Winner announced next week.