Tag Archives: kids

Fantastic Adventures Halloween Edition: Scooby Doo and the Witch’s Ghost

The next stop on our Halloween tour: Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost! This animated movie came out straight to DVD in 2001. Like most Scooby-Doo movies, this one revolves around a mystery. In this case, there is a witch’s ghost tormenting the citizens of Oak Haven, 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

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 New England 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 Scoobyand the gang. This is also a great way to get your kids’ imaginations soaring and get them creating and

Imagination running wild!

thinking out of the box.
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 Ghostis 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 your favorite retailer!

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

NEW RELEASE: Jeremy, the Jack-O’-Lantern

 

My latest book, Jeremy, the Jack-O’-Lantern is now available to order! 
What 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!

Buy it at Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/shop/ryan-r-palmer/jeremy-the-jack-o-lantern/paperback/product-20472337.html

Coming soon to Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and more!!

Fantastic Adventures Halloween Edition: Berenstain Bears go on a Ghost Walk

The Berenstain Bears are a popular series for both parents and kids because it teaches great life lessons, helping the parents approach difficult subjects. This Halloween edition has a similar theme, in that it teaches about dressing up for Halloween and why being scary is okay. When Papa Bear gets to design a haunted house for the school’s Ghost Walk at Halloween, he decides that it’s going to be the scariest Ghost Walk ever, with every frightening thing he can possibly use. Mama Bear is concerned that he might be going too far, especially since this event is for young children, but Papa is having too much fun to take her warning seriously. Then, a nightmare of his own causes him to reconsider.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: As mentioned above, the book teaches about Halloween and the appropriateness of the scary costumes, decorations and evil creatures shown on TV.
It is a good chance for parents to have a great conversation about Halloween costumes and what is appropriate. Of course, the level of that appropriateness is up to each individual parent. The illustrations also allow for your kids to open up their imaginations and really get into the different aspects of dressing up for Halloween. it is a great way to help them kick start costume ideas.

Fantastic Adventures Halloween Edition: Disney’s Halloween Treat

The next stop on our Halloween adventures: Disney’s Halloween Treat. This 45 minute video was released in 1982 and was a mainstay on the Disney Channel through the 1980s and part of the 1990s. Unfortunately, it no longer airs on broadcast television. But, you can find it on YouTube in seven parts. Link will be at the end of the post. This Halloween special centers around Disney villains, creepy stories with your favorite characters (Mickey, Huey, Dewy and Louie, etc.), and there are clips from some obscure Disney cartoons not seen since the 1970s.
They all feature creepy settings, vivid characters and perfect family Halloween thrills. A talking jack-o’-lantern introduces each story which include such creepy scenes as dancing skeletons, Donald Duck hiding from a rampaging gorilla, the “Night on Bald Mountain” segment from Fantasia, the wizard’s duel from Sword in the Stone,  and even a clip of the Headless Horseman chasing down poor Ichabod.  These are just a few of the great segments you will find in this video.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: Halloween is always a special time when you are a kid (and it should be when you’re an adult, too). This is one of those rare videos that can both frighten children while also making them howl for more when it is all over. It has just the right amount of “scare” and creepy imagery mixed with the pleasantness of Disney.
The truth is, we all love being scared. Your kids will be on the edge of their seats as they await whatever creepy creature is awaiting them in the next segment. It offers the thrill of being scared with the safety of the Disney brand.
If your kids love Halloween and all the creatures that go along with it, then they will definitely enjoy this video. there are creatures of all kinds.
This is also a great moment for your little kids to teach them what Halloween is all about. There may be scary and evil creatures, dark settings and spooky stories, but in the end it is all about having fun while being scared, getting and eating candy, and dressing up as your favorite creature or character. Of course, there is also a greater reason for Halloween, which you may share with your youngsters (but most of them won’t be ready to understand it), the remembrance and celebration of lost souls: relatives, ancestors, and all loved ones.
In the end, Disney’s Halloween Treat is a fun adventure for the entire family with some great scary moments, classic Disney characters and a great representation of all that is good about Halloween.

You can watch Disney’s Halloween treat in seven parts on YouTube. Start here: http://youtu.be/ASuuZejf8VE

Fantastic Adventures Halloween Edition: Hocus Pocus

During the month of October I will be bringing you the best Fantastic Adventures in Family Entertainment for the spooktacular holiday, Halloween! Check back all month for spooky stories safe for the entire family!

The first fantastic adventure for Halloween: 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 beirresponsible and have fun, but there will be consequences. You can hate your little sister for being a 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

Max and Dani portray a great sibling relationship.

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 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.

The Sanderson Sisters

Rent it on Amazon Instant Video, Watch it on ABC Family this month, or Buy it on DVD or Blu-Ray at your local store.

Fantastic Adventure #10: The Neverending Story

If there is one thing you can count on in Fantastic Adventures in Family Entertainment, it is the adventure part! Today I have a grand adventure for the entire family. The Neverending Story is a film that crosses several genres in such an effective way that it feels like several different movies in one. You have a young boy reading a book in the attic of his home, and as he is reading the story, the audience is reading right along with him as the book comes to life on the screen. There are magical creatures, giant turtles, rock monsters, horses, a beautiful empress and a plot full of action, daring and wit.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: Contrary to the title, the story does eventually end, and it is a fantastic journey that seems to go by much too quickly. The first time your kids see the giant flying dog, Falcor, they will be hooked into the adventure and the story. A giant flying dog that a kid can ride on is an amazing way to get your kids’ imaginations flowing, and that really is the key. As I have said before, imagination is one of the few tools in our brains that we do not fully develop as we grow older. So, the more chances you can give your kids while they are young, the better! And the more you foster the growth of imagination, the better.
The other magical creatures in the story bring in a lot of fun. There’s a large rock monster, which kids always seem to get a kick out of. You also have a giant turtle, moving statues, living trees, and other equally odd yet charming things.
Another important aspect of The Neverending Story is the fact that it promotes reading. The main character of the story is really the boy reading the book. The rest is just the boy’s imagination of what the book world looks like. Your kids can actually see what reading a book can be like. They can watch the boy read the book and then see him create this fantastical world all on his own just through the mere act of reading. And, of course, by the end of the book, the boy is so into the story that he is shouting out the window in order to save the life on the empress.

The Neverending Story gets your kids’ imagiantions running wild, draws them into the story and hopefully gets them excited about reading and all of its wonderful possibilities.

Fantastic Adventure #8: Spy Kids

Today’s entry in Fantastic Adventures in Family Entertainment is the 2001 film Spy Kids. What kid (or grown up) doesn’t enjoy a good spy story? Even better, what kid doesn’t love seeing him or herself up on the screen as a spy? That is the premise behind Spy Kids. Take the exciting elements that make adults enjoy James Bond (gadgets, unique villains, action sequences) and put kids in the roles. It sounds like a simple premise, but this film brings in complex themes like what it means to be a family, brother and sister bonds and how enjoying being a kid is important.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: Family is the overarching theme in this film, and it does not hold back. We start with the Carmen and Juni Cortez not liking their parents because they are boring and nothing exciting ever seems to happens. Their parents get pulled out of spy retirement by OSS headquarters, they eventually get captured and the kids learn the truth about their parents. Carmen and Juni learn that their parents are really spies and are thrust into action.

Families kick butt!

Carmen and Juni bring perfect brother sister interaction, whether it is mimicking fights, name calling or roughhousing, these two characters know exactly what it means to be brother and sister, and this is something that your kids will really take away from this movie. They will, perhaps, see their siblings in a different, more appreciative, light. And if you play your cards correctly, they may be looking in your bedroom for the secret trigger that will unlock your spy base.
There is a lot of action and adventure to get your kids excited and running around the house, and hopefully motivate them to go on their own spy adventures when the movie is over.
Of course, the final and lasting message of this film is that of family. The kids realize that their parents are cool and exciting people. They are not just mom and dad who make us do our chores and go to school. This is a great learning opportunity for your kids to get them to see you as more than just an authority figure. There is also a large importance put on the cohesiveness of the family unit. In the end, this film – and all of its sequels – will bring your family closer together and have your kids wanting to be spies not when they grow up, but right now!

Fantastic Adventure #6: The Ghost-Eye Tree

The Ghost-Eye Tree is a children’s easy reading book that is big on visuals and not so much on text. Every page reveals a large, well-painted picture and a few lines of text. The story of the book revolves around a scary tree that lies on a moonlit path. Two children are asked by their mother to fetch a jug of milk from the dairy. Unfortunately for them, it is dark, cold and they have to walk past the scary tree to get there. Will they make it? Or will the eerie sounds and moving branches of the scary tree get them?

Why it is a fantastic adventure: The cover alone is enough to get your kids in the mood for a scary story. The first time I saw th e image of that tree something clicked inside my head. I’m not sure what that was, but since then I have been fascinated with Halloween, scary movies and the visuals of Tim Burton’s movies. I can not guarantee the same for your kids, but it is a very powerful image that will definitely last in some way.
The artwork inside of the book is done in watercolors, leaving a very Norman Rockwell-like feeling, although a tad less realistic. All of the characters have warm, rosy cheeks and realistic features. The artwork is a great way to get your kids used to looking at paintings as art. They also are a good starting point for a conversation about visual storytelling. It is not always about the written word.
The story itself is a bit foreboding, as seen in this sample:
Oooo…
I dreaded to go…
I dreaded the tree….
Why does Mama
always choose me

When the night is so dark
And the mind runs
free?

The last stanza alone is enough to get your kids’ minds wandering. If you happen to have a large tree in front of you home, don’t be surprised if you’ll be putting up thick curtains over your kids’ bedroom windows.
The sense of dread and the fear of the unknown play strongly in this book. Your kids may be a little frightened, but hopefully in a good way that fosters creativity and a wandering mind.
Finally, the visuals are what matter. The outstretched limbs of the tree waving in the wind that look like they may reach out and grab you at any moment heighten the suspense of the story and will leave your kids wanting more of that haunted feeling.

Fantastic Adventure #4: Richie Rich

First off, sorry for the delay in posts. A certain little girl keeps me busy these days.

My pick for today is the 1994 film, Richie Rich. Made at a time when the 1980s cartoon had struck big with kids, this 1994 film is more than just a mere cash grab trying to profit from the cartoon.
Richie Rich is the son of billionaires Mr. & Mrs. Rich, and as such has everything a kid could dream of. That is, until the day he goes to a small town where his father bought a factory and sees some children playing a baseball in a dirt field. It is then that he realizes he is missing the most important thing of all: having friends. Throw in a plot about his parents going missing and the second in command at Rich Incorporated trying to take over the company, and you have the makings for an adventure filled learning experience for your kids.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: There are a lot of fun activities in this movie. Richie’s new friends come over to visit where Richie shows off his collection of “toys”: a rollercoaster, go karts, and a kid launcher. If that does not excite your children and make them want to go outside and have an adventure, then there may not be much that will! In a wonderful bit of marketing, Richie has his own McDonalds in his parent’s mansion which will not only get your kids itching for a trip to McD’s, but I even found myself wanting a Quarter Pounder. Before I get comments about how unhealthful fast food is, let me just say: Moderation.
Of course, food and expensive toys are not the only experiences in this film. There is a great performance by Michael McShane as Professor Keenbean, the wacky inventor of crazy things that happen to be useful at the climax of the movie. His inventions and hammy acting will provide many a laughter for the entire family.
The climax of the movie has a lot of exciting action to keep your kids’ attention, and the end of the film has a nice heartwarming message about family, friends and what matters most in the world. Hint: It’s not money. Use it as a fun action movie and as a way to open conversation with your kids about friends, family, and the real value of a materialistic lifestyle.

Rated PG.