Tag Archives: kid friendly

Fantastic Halloween Adventure: Alvin & The Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman

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Today’s Fantastic Adventure in Family Entertainment brings us to an old children’s favorite: Alvin and the Chipmunks.

In this full length feature, Alvin becomes obsessed with monsters and pranks, especially when a creepy neighbor moves in.
At the same time, Theodore is looking to be in the school play production of Jekyll and Hyde, along with the Chipettes.
Why doesn’t anyone believe Alvin when he sees a wolfman running around the city? And why has Theodore begun acting so strange? Find out when Alvin and the Chipmunks meet the Wolfman!

Why it is a Fantastic Adventure: Any Halloween themed movies immediately catch my attention. This one is above average, but not the greatest. Like any entry in this series, there is always a lesson to be learned. As usual, Alvin goes overboard and scares too many people which gets him grounded. A good teachable moment and reminder that sometimes play can get out of hand.
But, it is not all lessons and mischief! There are some great Chipmunk songs for your kids to dance and sing and burn a few calories. They will love the comic interactions between the Chipmunks.

The animation style is hand drawn animation, which I always prefer over CG. It gives the entire cartoon a familiar, friendly feel. A few Fall elements appear, such as orange leaves, dark skies, a yellow moon and a creepy werewolf imagery! Start this one early in September and get your kids in the mood for the Fall.

Fantastic Halloween Adventure: Costume Quest 2

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Last year, I wrote about the first Costume Quest game. A rare gem that perfectly encapsulates the experience of Halloween. This year, Costume Quest 2 has been released and looks to continue the amazing Halloween spirit.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: Differing from the first game, Costume Quest 2 takes place in various eras of time. Not only will you and your kids get to virtually trick or treat in a familiar neighborhood setting, but you’ll get to visit Ancient Egypt, the Louisiana Bayou, a future where Halloween is illegal, and more!
There are multiple costumes to try on, lots of creepy cards to collect, and tons and tons of candy to collect and spend.

It is a fun adventure for the entire family. So gather round the computer or TV and spend some quality family Halloween time together.

Costume Quest 2 is available on PC, PlayStation or Xbox.

Have you been to a pumpkin patch yet?

From last year’s 31 Days of Halloween, don’t miss out on the chance to take the family to your local pumpkin patch!
See Last year’s post to find a pumpkin patch near you!

Christmas Adventures

First off, I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays. December is in full swing, my daughter’s birthday party is coming up this weekend, and then Christmas celebrations begin! It is always a whirlwind this time of year, but it is fun and such a great few months to spend with friends and family that it is all worth it. How do you feel about this time of year?

Seeing as how my viewership is nearly double that of last year, I thought I would point you all in the direction of my Fantastic Christmas Adventures posts from last year. So today you get not one, but multiple Fantastic Adventures. Best of all, I’ll only charge you for one! Oh wait, I don’t have a tip jar on this blog. Well, lucky you, you get them all for free! Happy Holidays!

The Polar Express

Rankin / Bass TV Specials

All I Want for Christmas

Jack Frost

 

 

 

 

Fantastic Halloween Adventure: Hocus Pocus

Hocus-Pocus-movie-posterAh, Hocus Pocus. This film was only mildly successful when it came out in 1993 and to this day it is a very divisive film. However, it is one of my favorite Halloween movies and a great family friendly movie, so I will be presenting it. The story focuses on three witches who were burned at the stake for their evil deed of stealing the souls of children in Salem, Massachusetts in 1693. Right before they died, they cast a spell on a black flame candle that once a virgin lit the candle on the full moon before Halloween, they would rise once again. Fast forward 300 years to 1993 and a young high school boy named Max Dennison lights the candle to impress a girl. The three witches rise again to steal the souls of little children.
Max, his (hopeful) girlfriend Allison, and Max’s little sister, Dani must stop the evil Sanderson Sisters before the sun rises on November 1st in order to prevent the sisters from coming back permanently. Of course, the hard part for Max and company is that it is Halloween night and none of the adults or authority figures believe them! I will not spoil the ending, of course, but you can expect much hilarity, adventure and creepy Halloween spooks.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: Max is every bit the aspiring young hero for middle school aged boys, with just the right amount of disobedience and knowing when to do the right thing. He is also an especially good role model for any big brothers who have little sisters to take care of. Max learns throughout the movie and teaches your kids at the same time. You can be irresponsible and have fun, but there will be consequences. You can hate your little sister for being a

Max and Dani portray a great sibling relationship.
Max and Dani portray a great sibling relationship.

burden, but you’re going to do everything you can to protect her when things turn ugly. And lastly, you can try to impress the cute girl at school all you want, but you’re not going to win her over that way.
The little girls in your family will wish they were in Dani’s shoes from the very beginning. Dani is lovingly portrayed by Thora Birch, who really steals many of the scenes in this film. She is strong-willed and won’t stop tormenting her big brother until she gets her way. Your little girl will be going on the adventure with Dani, reveling in a night of witches, zombies and magic that all seems fresh and real. She even gets a talking cat as her companion through the film. Another plus, just when Dani is getting too scared – and maybe your little girl, too – her big brother swoops in and comforts her. It is a perfect lesson in sibling relationships. Just enough rivalry, but in the end it is compassion that wins the day.
Of course you can’t mention this film without talking about the witches themselves – the Sanderson Sisters. They provide most of the comedy throughout the film, mostly having to do with being from 1693 and being awoken in 1993. The elementary school is deemed a “prison for children” (your kids will

The Sanderson Sisters
The Sanderson Sisters

agree with that), a man dressed in a devil costume is mistaken for the real thing, and the entire concept of Halloween being a night of young children dressing up as creatures is quite upsetting to them. Bette , Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker play the creepy yet kooky witches to perfection with just the right amount of terror and humor. If these three witches do not get your kids excited about all things Halloween, then there is not much that will.
There are Halloween decorations abound, zombies, talking cats, creepy cemeteries and picturesque Salem settings, which really bring that cold Fall feeling to the film.
The entire movie itself is one long, grand adventure that never lets up and teaches very important lessons along the way, all the while building your kids’ love of Halloween.

 

 

Fantastic Halloween Adventure: Beetlejuice – Laugh of the Party

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Today’s Fantastic Adventure in family Entertainment brings us to the Neitherworld with the cartoon version of Beeteljuice. In particular, the Halloween episode “Laugh of the Party.”

When snobby Claire Brewster excludes Lydia and her friends from a popular kids’ Halloween party, Lydia decides to have one of her own. But when Delia takes over the planning, it looks like disaster is imminent until Beetlejuice — as Mr. Beetleman — offers his catering service. Armed with party supplies from the Neitherworld, he’s ready for anything…except the discovery that one of his decorations, Party People in a Can, shouldn’t be used during a full moon. He and Lydia must hunt down the missing Party People before they wreak havoc on all of Peaceful Pines.
Why it is a fantastic adventure: Your kids will obviously love the zany antics of Beetlejuice and will be able to relate to mom taking over the planning of a party (sorry, moms!). As in most children’s cartoons, there is a message to teach the kiddos. In this case, the message is one that beet_zps9c65355ayou will enjoy as a parent. You see, Beetlejuice ends up getting on over his head (another good lesson) and Lydia has to help him clean it up (lesson number two). But the big lesson is that it is usually for the best when your bumbling but helpful parents plan your party because they know what they are doing.
Another fun aspect of this show is the animation. There is something very comforting about hand drawn animation from the late 80s and early 90s. Maybe it’s just the overload of horrible CGI in cartoons these days, but seeing hand drawn animation is very inviting. Plus, the animation style of this show is very unique. Your kids will hopefully appreciate the old animation style, as it is creepy, colorful and fun all at the same time.
You can buy Beetlejuice on DVD from Amazon.com

Halloween Party Ideas for the Entire Family

There is nothing quite like a Halloween party. Whether its bobbing for apples, carving pumpkins or eating caramel apples, there is never a dull moment for kids and parents. Here are a few spooky ideas for a hauntingly great Halloween party! (How many more Halloween clichés can I post this month? I think I’m running out!)
Halloween Music Collection by Midnight Syndicate. Put on this CD and get ready for some of the creepiest music you will ever hear. Midnight Syndicate  is a band that plays nothing but creepy music for Halloween. This CD is sure to send some chills down your spine.

 

 

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Jack-o’-lantern…lanterns. Okay, the name leaves a little to be desired. But hey, these paper lanterns are a very easy way to add Halloween flair to your backyard or front porch. They are also practical in that they provide light! How about that?

 

 

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Jack-O’-Lantern Chair Covers. I’m sensing a jack-o’-lantern theme here. Apparently I really like them. These are a clever way to add some Halloween to your otherwise boring and bare dining room table chairs.

 

 

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Little Monsters Photo Door Banner. What happens every time you go to a fair or theme park and your kids see those wooden cutouts to stick their face in? They run to it every time. And demand lots of pictures to be taken at every single one they encounter. Now you can have one in your own home! Seriously, kids love this and your house will forever be known as the photo house.

 

 

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Skeleton Butler with Tray. Place this guy jus outside of your kitchen, bar, or wherever it is you serve your drinks for the party. Place a few drinks on here and you have your own skeleton butler holding drinks for every one. The parents will love having easy access to drinks and the kids will get a kick out of a 5 foot skeleton greeting them (and they can’t reach the drinks).

 

 

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Frankenweenie Stand Up. Okay, I’m putting this one in here because I love Tim Burton and I think this is a great idea. What kid wouldn’t want Sparky to attend his Halloween party?

 

 

Fantastic Halloween Adventure: Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost

thCAEK0OUXThe next stop on our Halloween tour: Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost! This animated movie came straight to DVD in 1999. Like most Scooby-Doo movies, this one revolves around a mystery. In this case, there is a witch’s ghost tormenting the citizens of Oakhaven, a sleepy little town where famed Horror writer Ben Ravencroft goes to write his books. Ben Ravencroft runs into Scooby and the gang after they solve a mystery at a local history museum.
Once Scooby, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne and Fred arrive in Oak Haven, they immediately begin to investigate the suspicious behavior of the mayor. The gang is skeptical about the Witch’s ghost being real , but once they see it for themselves will they believe in ghosts? Join the spooky adventurers as they try to solve the mystery of the Witch’s ghost!

Fred, Daphne and Velma with Ben Ravencroft
Fred, Daphne and Velma with Ben Ravencroft
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Picturesque Oakhaven! I’m ready for Fall… and food!

Why it is a fantastic Adventure: This movie is one that I view every October to get me into the Halloween and Fall spirit. The town of Oak Haven has a picturesque Massachusetts Fall setting: brown leaves, barren trees, a small Main Street where everyone knows everyone, and even a re-creation of a Puritan village. If you live in parts of the world where the weather doesn’t change much and Fall doesn’t really happen, this is a great way to get yourself and the kids in the proper Fall mindset.
Along the way, the gang meet a group of Gothic witches who are in the rock band, The Hex Girls. This trio provides a few songs in the movie (which are actually pretty good) and help keep the kids entertained through the somewhat plodding mystery story.
Scooby-Doo provides the majority of the movie’s laughs, whether he is scarfing down a gigantic sandwich, begging for Scooby Snacks, or trying to churn butter in the Puritan village. He also provides crucial entertainment value in a story that is somewhat dark for a kids’ Halloween adventure.
On that point, the ghost in this movie is real. She is not someone dressed up in a costume to be de-masked at the end. She has a real thirst for revenge and will do anything to get her way. She brings pumpkins to life and turns them into evil jack-o’-lanterns that try to eat Scooby and the gang.

The plot deals with witches, Wiccans and warlocks, and provides a safe introduction to the topic of real life witches- Wiccans -that you can elaborate on later if you so desire.
The mystery plot is a lot of fun and will keep your kids guessing until the end, especially since the witch turns out to be real (but who was behind the other part of the mystery, and why was the mayor being so suspicious?). There are plenty of eerie locations to keep up the Halloween vibe: abandoned mills, forests full of dead trees, a cabin shrouded in an eerie fog.

Overall, Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost is a great atmosphere setting movie with a fun mystery and a few teachable moments and imagination igniting ideas for your kids. Watch and get ready for Halloween!

Available to purchase on DVD from Amazon.com

The Hex Girls introduce your kids to great music and modern witches!
The Hex Girls introduce your kids to great music and modern witches!

Fantastic Halloween Adventure: Disney’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

legendofsleepyhollowOne of my best childhood memories of Halloween is sitting around the TV turning on the Disney Channel and watching The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. For those who don’t know the story, it basically involves a very superstitious and easily scared school teacher, Mr. Ichabod Crane, being told a spooky story of a headless horsemen by the town prankster. When Ichabod makes his way home after the gathering, he is chased down by this headless horsemen and never heard from again.

This story appeals to such a broad audience because we all love a good unsolved mystery. Kids enjoy it because it is spooky, scary and a stern reminder not to run off alone!

The easily frightened Ichabod Crane
The easily frightened Ichabod Crane

The animation may leave younger kids a bit disappointed as it is not CGI and is actually hand drawn (oh, the horror)! However, they will quickly forget that little tidbit as they are sucked into the world of Sleepy Hollow. The daytime settings are pleasant to look at, which gives you a nice secure feeling. Hold on to that feeling. You’re going to need it.
When night falls on Sleepy Hollow the quiet, melodic town turns into a foreboding maze of dark forests, dimly lit cabins and dark, unlit paths. Of course, this is the part that is most appealing to kids and adults on Halloween night. If you talk to your kids and explain tot hem that the dark is not scary, and that the headless horsemen is not, in fact, real, they will not be frightened and will be able to enjoy the story for what it is.

The sense of fear and adventure stirs something primal in all of us, which is why this story and this cartoon version of it, continues to enthrall us all these years later.
Sit down and put this family friendly telling of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow in your DVD player!

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is available on DVD from Amazon.com

SALE: Jeremy, the Jack-O’-Lantern

In preparation for Halloween, which is quickly approaching, my publisher and I have set a temporary discount on my children’s picture book, Jeremy, the Jack-o’-Lantern. Now through October 31st, save 15% off the cover price only at Lulu.com !

Get in the mood for Halloween and share this story with your kids, neighbors, friends, relatives, or anyone who enjoys Halloween!

 

Jeremy Cover 001What does a pumpkin think about being turned into a jack-o’-lantern? Join Jeremy as he goes from a small pumpkin on a vine to a delightfully wicked jack-o’-lantern! Go on a journey as Jeremy experiences Halloween for the first time!