Categories
for 10-year-olds for 5-year-olds for 6-year-olds for 7-year-olds for 8-year-olds for 9-year-olds Game

Uno Flip

Uno Flip

What is it:

Uno Flip (technically “UNO Flip!™”, but I get annoyed by products with exclamation points in their names) is basically the classic card game Uno, but with an additional deck of card faces printed on the back sides and an additional “flip” card that, when played, means everyone needs to literally turn their hands over and play the cards on the backs.

Uno itself is essentially Crazy Eights, a game played with a standard deck.

Who is it for:

Anyone who likes cards, and Uno specifically, will enjoy Uno Flip, it’s not more complicated than regular Uno but is much more dynamic because of the flipping feature.

What Kids Like:

It’s fun and fast. We’ve tried other card games (hearts, poker, go fish, etc.) but the kids found the games too boring or too complicated. Or at least, we could find a game that all ages could play together. We’ve even tried another Uno variant called, believe it or not, “Dos” which is also pretty good, but requires a little bit of math every time a card is laid down, which really slows down the action.

But Uno Flip is one that kids of all ages can play together, with or without adults. The rules are simple enough to get the hang of it without much effort but the action is fast enough to stay interesting.

What Parents Like:

Beyond basic numeral recognition, there’s not much in the way of mathematics education, but games like this have a lot to offer in terms of social dynamics. For example, if someone is close to winning, do you work together to team up against that player?

Games are quick, so when someone loses, there is another chance in just a few minutes. Everyone gets a chance to be a gracious winner or loser. And the nature of the game is that the first to lose their cards wins and leaves, but the rest continue play, so most players end up having the thrill of not losing.

And of course, having an alternative to video games and other screen-based entertainment is always welcome.

Also, this game is very portable and very tolerant of losing cards. Any Uno deck with a few cards missing is still perfectly playable. So it’s a good game to take in the car to grandma’s house or whatever.

What the Critics Think:

Board Game Geek has a review and another by someone who didn’t seem to enjoy it as much as us.

Concerns/Flaws:

I can’t think of any. We had a lot of with this.

Who Made it / History:

From the Uno Wikipedia page

The game was originally developed in 1971 by Merle Robbins in Reading, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. When his family and friends began to play more and more, he spent $8,000 to have 5,000 copies of the game made. He sold it from his barbershop at first, and local businesses began to sell it as well. Robbins later sold the rights to UNO to a group of friends headed by Robert Tezak, a funeral parlor owner in Joliet, Illinois, for $50,000 plus royalties of 10 cents per game. Tezak formed International Games, Inc., to market UNO, with offices behind his funeral parlor. The games were produced by Lewis Saltzman of Saltzman Printers in Maywood, Illinois. In 1992, International Games became part of the Mattel family of companies.[3]

Uno has loads and loads of variants. I can’t tell when Flip was released, but I think sometime in 2019 or 2020.

Where Can I Get it:

Uno Flip is available for $5 to $6 at most retail places that sell games.

More info at the official page

Categories
App for 10-year-olds for 11-year-olds for 12-year-olds for 4-year-olds for 5-year-olds for 6-year-olds for 7-year-olds for 8-year-olds for 9-year-olds Website

epic!

What is it:
Epic is a digital library for kids. It has books for all ages, audiobooks, and read-along picture books.

Who is it for:

Epic is for all kids, those who are learning to read, those who may not like reading, and kids who do like reading and want access to a library of books.

What Kids Like:

There is content for all ages, from simple picture books to chapter books. The audiobooks are great as background, before bedtime, in the car. And when we argue about the kids having too much screentime, we often compromise by letting them use Epic.

The app is fairly easy to browse and kids are able to find things that they might not have known about, without having to go to an actual library.

What Parents Like:

Anything that encourages reading is good. The content selection is good, and with ~40,000 titles, at least as full as a small regional library might have, although not as much selection as you’d find in a large city library. The interface is friendly, and I’m comfortable letting even our youngest browse around on the app looking for stuff to look at.

Our local school uses epic! to track our kids’ reading, so the kids can enjoy reading while fulfilling some of their school requirements. Apparently over 90% of American schools use epic!

The system also has tracking features so you can see what the kids are reading. We don’t use that feature, but some parents might appreciate it.

What the Critics Think:

According to the epic! site, epic! has earned a Teachers’ Choice Award, Common Sense Education Top Pick, Mom’s Choice Award, Dr Toy’s 100 Best Award, and Parents’ Choice Gold Award Spring 2019

Concerns/Flaws:

epic! is not free. There is a 1-month free trial of full access, with $10/month afterward. An annual plan costs $72, which works out to $6/month. So it won’t break the bank for most families, but you want to make sure you’ll get regular use out of it.

The selections are sometimes incomplete. Foe example, my kids are into Minecraft books, but the series they found didn’t have every book in the series available, and while there was an audiobook version of one, there weren’t for the others.

Who Made it / History:

epic! has offices in Victoria, British Columbia and Redwood City, California. They launched in 2013. More on their about page.

Where Can I Get it:

The website is getepic.com

Apps available at the Apple iOS App Store and the Google Android Play Store

Categories
for 10-year-olds for 11-year-olds for 12-year-olds for 4-year-olds for 5-year-olds for 6-year-olds for 7-year-olds for 8-year-olds for 9-year-olds Parenting Resource Website

Wide Open School

What is it:

Wide Open School is a free, ad-free, very comprehensive set of lesson plans for all ages, gathered from 75 different educational websites such as Khan Academy, TedED, YouTube, Google Arts & Culture and many others.

The lesson plans change every day, including weekends, and are available up to two weeks in advance, and up to a month afterward.

Here is one day’s resources for grades K-2 for Friday, September 18, 2020:

1) Activity: Number Jump
Get your wiggles out and jump from number to number as you count from one to 10.
Source: Fun-a-Day

2) Video: Cultures Around the World
Discover different cultural traditions from around the world and the things we all have in common, too.
Source: Candy Seed

3) Audio: The Imagine Neighborhood
From the Committee for Children, this show encourages kids to use their imaginations to talk about the big feelings we all have.
Source: Committee for Children

4) Screen Break: Make a Mexican Cuff Bracelet
Make a repujado bracelet with some simple materials. Make some for family members, too.
Source: Spanglish Baby

5) Video: School Garden Tour
Check out this narrated photo tour of the Wilshire Crest Elementary School garden, chock-full of all kinds of different plants.
Source: Garden School Foundation

6) Lesson: Hour of Code
Try these engaging, one-hour introductory computer science tutorials, appropriate for all ages. There are hundreds of activities and tutorials in over 45 languages.
Source: code.org

7) Video: The Seven Continents
Sing this catchy song to learn about the continents. Then look at a map or globe and see if you can name them all.
Source: FuntasticTV.com

And there are additonal activities such as exercise recommendations, links to live cooking classes and musical events, and information on issues such as digital citizenship and emotional well-being.

Who is it for:

This website could be for teachers looking for free resources for teaching in the classroom or remotely, for parents who want to give their children additional activities beyond school, for self-directed kids looking for something fun and interesting, and is perhaps best suited for homeschooling families who need to set their kids up with a broad curriculum.

What Kids Like:

The resources are mostly self-directed things such as a video on a particular topic (e.g. grammar) and a set of questions that prompt the child to think about the content of the video. And so the kid can skip ahead if bored or take as much time as needed.

Many of the resources are fun, such as online math games or videos with songs. These are not as fun as playing Mario Bros., for example, but certainly more fun than listening to a teacher lecture and having to wait for other kids.

What Parents Like:

The curricula are very complete. If I wanted to do a week of summer school, or wanted my kids to only do screen time with educational projects, I could just go to this site and have everything I need.

What the Critics Think:

I’ve not seen any reviews of this site other than on its own partner sites. Most of the sites that might have a review are among the list of 75 groups that partner with Wide Open School, which is itself a good endorsement.

Concerns/Flaws:

I don’t have any concerns about the quality of Wide Open School, and haven’t found any flaws. It’s very well thought out. My only warning to a potential user of this site is that it still needs a teacher or parent to guide the child during activities and to transition from one activity to the next. You can’t just sit your kid in front of the screen and come back in 2 hours assuming they got a full dose of learnin’.

Who Made it:

Wide Open School is a project of Common Sense Media which offers high-quality reviews of movies, books, and games for children.

The site was designed and built by Amplify, a Brooklyn-based educational technology company that creates K–8 core and supplemental curriculum, assessment, and intervention programs used on all 50 states.

History:

As stated on Wide Open School’s About page:

Wide Open School began as a way to meet the change in learning needs of students, teachers, and families due to the coronavirus pandemic. Our work represents the collective action of more than 75 content partners and supporters.

The pandemic has highlighted the invaluable role that teachers play in students’ lives. It has also made the connection between schools and families more essential than ever. We’ve continued to improve the site so parents, caregivers, and teachers can find the advice and support they seek about distance and hybrid learning and so students in preschool through grade 12 can easily find engaging learning activities.

All of the resources on Wide Open School have been curated by the editors at Common Sense in what will be a challenging school year, to say the least. Every day students can access free, high-quality activities across subjects, all in one place, in an easy-to-use experience designed and built by Amplify.

Protecting kids’ privacy while they learn and explore online is core to our mission. We have screened sites to only include those that meet or exceed our basic requirements for security and privacy. It is up to individual discretion to review the privacy policies and information-collection practices of any external websites and apps before using them with children.

Where Can I Get it:

Wide Open School is free, ad-free, and available to anyone at https://wideopenschool.org/

Categories
Book for 10-year-olds for 11-year-olds for 6-year-olds for 7-year-olds for 8-year-olds for 9-year-olds

Judy Blume Fudge Series

superfudge

What is it:

The Fudge Series is a collection of four books written by Judy Blume between 1972 and 2002 about a relationship between 9-year-old Peter and his little 2-year-old brother Farley “Fudge” Hatcher.

The first in the series, “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” was published in 1972. This focused on Peter’s experience in elementary school. In 1972, Blume also published another of her famous novels, “Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great”. This book exists in the same place and time as the Fudge books, and the book refers to some of the same characters.

These were followed by “Superfudge” in 1980, where the family moves and the boys have a new sister, Tootsie. Ten years later, in 1990, “Fudge-a-Mania” came out. In this third book Fudge is now 5 and Sheila and her family play a larger role.

Thirty years after the original “Fourth Grade Nothing”, Blume published “Doublefudge” in 2002. In this final book of the series, Fudge learns of a cousin with the same name who is obsessed with money.

Who is it for:

Any child in elementary school with a sibling will appreciate the themes and characters, but boys around 9 years old, with a younger brother, will have the easiest time relating to the main character, Peter.

What Kids Like:

Kids like the realism. Judy Blume is a master at conveying the absurdity and occasional cruelty of children, in a fun, funny, and relatable way.

The books are available as audiobooks on CD, read by the author herself. This is my kids’ preferred method of enjoying the stories. They listen to them on repeat.

What Parents Like:

I like that my kids can enjoy some of the same now-classic books I read as a kid. And these books have a lot of wholesome and relatable depictions of family life, that end up teaching lessons about jealousy, competition, selfishness, and more.

What the Critics Think:

Blume’s books are all well-received, getting 4/5 stars or higher on most rating sites.

There are good summaries and ratings at Judy Blume’s pages at Common Sense Media and Goodreads

Concerns/Flaws:

Not really any, but some scenes are a bit grosser or more realistic than I see in books published now.

Who Made it / History:

Judy Blume had her first book (“The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo”) in 1969 and is still at it. Her most recent novel (“In the Unlikely Event”) came out in 2015. All of her books are about the challenges and humor of siblings growing up together.

Her website has lots of information on her books and the stories behind them.

When I began to write our babysitter, Willie Mae Bartlett, brought me an article from the newspaper about a toddler who swallowed a tiny pet turtle. This was in the late sixties, when you could still buy turtles for pets. Willie Mae thought the story might inspire me. And it certainly did! I sat down and wrote a picture book called “Peter, Fudge and Dribble.” I submitted my manuscript to several publishers but they all rejected it. Two editors wrote personal notes saying they found the story very funny but one was concerned that it could lead to small children swallowing turtles, and the other found it too unbelievable to publish.

A few years later, my first agent submitted the story to Ann Durell, editor of children’s books at E.P. Dutton. Ann invited me to lunch. I was so nervous I could hardly eat but she was so warm and friendly I finally relaxed. Ann liked my story but she suggested, instead of a picture book, I consider writing a longer book about the Hatcher family, using “Peter, Fudge and Dribble” as one of the chapters.

I loved her idea and went home fired up and ready to write. That summer I wrote the book, basing the character of Fudge on my son, Larry, when he was a toddler. Though I still lived in suburban New Jersey, I set the book in New York City, in the building where my best friend, Mary Weaver, lived with her family. I changed the address but the elevator I describe in the book with its mirrored wall and upholstered bench is exactly as it was, and still is, in Mary’s building.

I proudly sent the finished manuscript to my agent but after she’d read it she said, “I don’t think this is anything like what Ann had in mind.” I was stunned and asked her to show it to Ann anyway. She did. Ann liked the manuscript and offered to publish it just as it was (I think it was the only book I’ve ever written that I didn’t revise). I was ecstatic.

We had a problem with my original title, “Peter, Fudge and Dribble,” because another book had just come out called “Peter Potts.” I couldn’t come up with anything I liked as well and finally sent Ann a list of twenty possibilities, among them, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. That’s the one Ann chose.

Where Can I Get it:

The books remain in print, as far as I can tell, but you may have an easier time finding them used or at the library.

Categories
for 3-year-olds for 4-year-olds for 5-year-olds for 6-year-olds for 7-year-olds for 8-year-olds Game

Sorry!

Sorry!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorry!_(game)#/media/File:Sorry_diamond_edit.jpg

What is it:

Sorry! is a classic board game based on the ancient Indian game of parcheesi. Two to four players move colored tokens around a board, trying to be the first to get all of their tokens to the “home” base.

Who is it for:

The game is marketed for kids 6 and up, but I find that it’s a fun game to play with kids as young as 3, provided they play with an adult who can guide them through the process.

What Kids Like:

Young kids like showing off their ability to count and to feel like they’re winning (regardless of whether they actually are). Older kids like learning the strategy and like the competitive aspect of forcing other players back. My kids in particular like ganging up on any grown-up playing.

What Parents Like:

We like the way the game encourages younger players to practice counting and also like the level of strategic thinking involved. The strategy is at a level that even a 6-year-old can pick up on basic ways of improving their odds.

I also like that the game lends itself to quick games. We often play by an alternate rule where the first player to get any token to home (or sometimes the first to get two in) wins. This also shows how the game lends itself to other variants, such as team play, or the fire and ice power-ups in the newer rule set.

Something we often don’t think about with new games is how tolerant the game is to losing pieces. A chess set is difficult to play with more than 2 or 3 pieces missing, and a deck of cards with 49 cards isn’t good for much other than war. Sorry!, on the other hand, can lose cards or a few tokens and still be fun and very playable.

And of course, it’s nice to have an alternative to video games.

Concerns/Flaws:

The concern comes from the competitive nature of the game. It can be very frustrating to put a lot of time into moving a token toward the goal, only to have your brother move it back to start while laughing in your face.

At least for younger kids, what I have found is that it’s good to have an adult play along in order to help diffuse conflicts and go easy on younger players while pushing back harder against more aggressive older players. This is true for other competitive games as well – such as Monopoly. For older kids, these games can be great ways of learning good-sportsmanship – how to win and lose gracefully and graciously.

Who Made it / History:

From the Sorry! Wikipedia page:

William Henry Story of Southend-on-Sea filed for a patent for the game in England, where it was registered as a trade mark on 21 May 1929 (UK number 502898). It was subsequently sold in the United Kingdom by Waddingtons, the British games manufacturer who sold it from 1934. In the United States, U.S. Patent 1,903,661 was filed for Sorry! on 4 Aug 1930 by William Henry Storey. A Canadian patent followed in 1932. The US patent was issued on 11 April 1933. Sorry! was adopted by Parker Brothers in 1934. Hasbro now continuously publishes it.

Where Can I Get it:

Sorry! is available everywhere games are sold.

Categories
Audiobook Book for 10-year-olds for 7-year-olds for 8-year-olds for 9-year-olds

Charlie Bumpers

What is it:

Charlie Bumpers is a series of chapter books about a 4th grader and his problems at school.

There are audiobook versions of the stories, read by the author, that are fun to listen to in the car.

BOOK 1 Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year
BOOK 2 Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome
BOOK 3 Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull
BOOK 4 Charlie Bumpers vs. the Perfect Little Turkey
BOOK 5 Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates
BOOK 6 Charlie Bumpers vs. His Big Blabby Mouth
BOOK 7 Charlie Bumpers vs. the End of the Year

Who is it for:

Ages 7 to 10 is probably about right. Kids younger than 4th grade may be interested but probably can’t focus on books with only scattered pictures. And older kids will no longer be able to relate to the problems of a 4th grader.

The audiobook versions of the books are more accessible to slightly younger kids.

What Kids Like:

The stories are funny and engaging, and they feel authentic. So much of media aimed at kids is a] heavily sanitized, and/or b] a representation of adults’ unrealistic and idealized vision of childhood. But not many depict issues such as bullying, or antagonism with teachers and parents and other kids in a realistic, but also fun way.

What Parents Like:

Again, the stories are funny. My first exposure was hearing an excerpt from one of the audiobooks and it reminded me of the scene from “Stand by Me” when the kid throws up at the pie eating contest. I also like the stories balance of wholesomeness with reality.

The books cover important themes, including Friendship, Following rules, Overcoming fears, Learning lessons, Kindness, Making good choices
(this list is from the publisher’s teacher’s guide)

What the Critics Think:

Goodreads gives the books an average of 4.0 out of 5

Some of the books have won awards. The first one got:
2013 Parents Choice Award (Fall) (2008-Up) — Fiction (Recommended)
2014 Delaware Diamonds Award — Grades 3-5 (Nominee)
2015 Charlie May Simon Children’s Book Award — Grades 4-6 (Nominee)
2015 Massachusetts Children’s Book Award — Children’s Book (Nominee)
2015 Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award — Grades 3-6 (Nominee)
2015 Rhode Island Children’s Book Award — Grades 3-6 (Nominee)
2015 South Carolina Childrens, Junior and Young Adult Book Award — Children’s (Nominee)
2016 Flicker Tale Children’s Book Award — Intermediate (Nominee)
2016 Golden Sower Award — Intermediate (Nominee)
2016 Sequoyah Book Award — Children’s (Nominee)
2016 Virginia Readers Choice Award — Elementary (Nominee)
(from fictiondb)

Who Made it / History:

Bill Harley is a performer who travels to schools, singing, telling stories and entertaining.

More of Adam Gustavson’s art can be found on his website

Where Can I Get it:

The books are easy to find, although the publisher, Peachtree doesn’t have the same reach as Scholastic, so you won’t find these books at school book fairs.

Peachtree has excerpts of the books as well as little videos that give a sense of the mood and tone of the stories.

Categories
for 10-year-olds for 11-year-olds for 12-year-olds for 9-year-olds Game Website

bot.land

What is it:

“An online strategy game with a focus on automation”

bot.land is a free (and ad-free) game where you design robots to fight other robots. The design takes the form of drag-and-drop code blocks, similar to Scratch and other kid-oriented programming environments. The game is multiplayer and allows you to compete against AIs or other players.

Who is it for:

The game is for anyone who can think abstractly enough to code virtual robots (perhaps 8 or 9 and older) and who enjoys battling virtual robots. The coding is not complex but would be frustrating for younger kids.

Many older kids and adults would enjoy this as well.

What Kids Like:

My kids are motivated by the idea of building a robot army that crushes the opposition, motivated enough to figure out how to do the necessary coding.

What Parents Like:

I like that there is a bottom-up way to teach programming concepts. That is, rather than watching a lecture and then doing an exercise, bot.land presents open scenarios and it’s up to the player to figure out the best way to win.

Being free and ad-free is a big plus as well.

If you find your kid likes this game, you might want to also look at Adventuron and Puzzlescript

What the Critics Think:

The Apple store gives it 4.4/5 (and rates it 12+)

The Google store gives it 4.1/5

on Steam it has a rating of 78%

(these three average to ~82.7% or ~4.1/5)

Concerns/Flaws:

The learning curve is challenging. There is not a lot of explanation and the first few levels feel like a sink or swim situation. Unless the user is highly motivated they won’t stick with it.

Who Made it, History:

bot.land is a group project by xtonomous and has been in active development since 2015

Makers’ itch.io profile

Where Can I Get it:

main site at https://bot.land/

on iTunes

Google Play

Steam

itch.io has more information, user comments, and links

Categories
Album for 3-year-olds for 4-year-olds for 5-year-olds for 6-year-olds for 7-year-olds for 8-year-olds

Caspar Babypants

What is it

If you ever wanted to hear the band The Presidents of the United States of America play Beatles covers and nursery rhymes, then have I got the band for you.

Chris Ballew, the lead singer and basitarist of P.U.S.A. has a side gig as Caspar Babypants and has put out eleven albums under that name.

Who is it for

Most of the songs are simple (covers such as the Baa Baa Black Sheep nursery rhyme, or Beatles tunes such as Hello Goodbye) and a few of the originals are slightly more complex, but all have a very professional arrangement and production. So, while kids of various ages may like the songs, older kids and adults can appreciate the musicianship.

What Kids Like

We discovered Caspar Babypants on WXPN’s nightly kids’ music show, Kids Corner where the host, Kathy O’Connell, played Caspar Babypants’ Crooked Crows. My kids became transfixed and asked to play the song over and over on youtube when we got home.

They like the simple, kid-friendly lyrics, but also like that the songs don’t sound like typical kid songs, which usually have very spare arrangement.

What Parents Like

I like that there is music for kids that I can actually enjoy, rather than merely endure.

What the Critics Think

Caspar Babypants was nominated for a Grammy in 2019 and got a PEPS award in 2016

Who Made it

Chris Ballew has led an interesting and enviable life (more on his Wikipedia page)

Fatherly has an article titled How Presidents of the United States’ Chris Ballew Became Caspar Babypants

He is married to artist Kate Endle

History

From the Caspar Babypants Wikipedia page:

Ballew’s first brush with children’s music came in 2002, when he recorded and donated an album of traditional children’s songs to the nonprofit Program for Early Parent Support titled “PEPS Sing A Long!” Although that was a positive experience for him, he did not consider making music for families until he met his wife, collage artist Kate Endle.[1] Her art inspired Ballew to consider making music that “sounded like her art looked” as he has said. Ballew began writing original songs and digging up nursery rhymes and folk songs in the public domain to interpret and make his own.[2] The first album, Here I Am!, was recorded during the summer of 2008 and released in February 2009.

Where Can I Get it

Caspar Babypants has a YouTube channel and is available on Spotify and other streaming services.

Categories
Book for 2-year-olds for 3-year-olds for 4-year-olds for 5-year-olds for 6-year-olds

Goodnight Gorilla

Goodnight Gorilla

What is it

Goodnight Gorilla is a bedtime book about a zookeeper (and his wife) who are putting zoo animals to bed for the night.

Who is it for

Board books that are meant to be read at bedtime are normally best for younger children, 2 or 3, but Goodnight Gorilla has so many little details in the pictures that even older kids can enjoy it.

What Kids Like

The color-coding of the cages, the repetition, and identifying animals are fun. But on second reading, the kids start to notice the details. Does the elephant have a doll that looks like Babar? Does the armadillo have one that looks like Ernie from Sesame Street? Can you find the mouse’s balloon in each page? How many neighbors are in the window next door? There are so many little things to find that it becomes a game.

What Parents Like

The illustrations are charming and parents can’t help but identify with the zookeeper and his wife who have to keep putting the animals to sleep, even after they crawl back into the parents’ bed.

Scholastic has a review that helps explain the appeal.

What the Critics Think

Goodnight Gorilla gets 4.2/5 on Goodreads

92% Google users liked it.

From the book’s Amazon page:

From Publishers Weekly
“Universally understandable subject matter and a narrative conveyed almost entirely through pictures mark this as an ideal title for beginners,” said PW. Ages 2-6. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review
“In a book economical in text and simple in illustrations, the many amusing, small details, as well as the tranquil tome of the story, make this an outstanding picture book.” –The Horn Book, starred review

“The amiable cartoon characters, vibrant palette, and affectionate tone of the author’s art recall Thatcher Hurd’s cheerful illustrations. Delightful.”–Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“A clever, comforting bedtime story.” –School Library Journal, starred review

“Jaunty four-color artwork carries the story and offers more with every look.” –Booklist

Who Made it

Goodnight Gorilla was written and illustrated by Peggy Rathmann, perhaps best-known for her Caldecott Medal-winning Officer Buckle & Gloria

Trivia: Peggy Rathmann’s husband is named John Wick.

Where Can I Get it

Google has a preview and the book is available everywhere.

Categories
for 10-year-olds for 11-year-olds for 12-year-olds for 6-year-olds for 7-year-olds for 8-year-olds for 9-year-olds Video

Good Eats

What is it

Good Eats was and is a half-hour cooking show hosted by Alton Brown on the Food Network. Good Eats distinguishes itself from other cooking shows in 2 ways. The video editing and styling is very modern compared to the static camera typical of traditional cooking shows. In Good Eats, the camera is often placed inside the over or in a cabinet, and is often moving. The other way is that Alton Brown gets much deeper into cooking chemistry than most other shows, talking about why 350° is the magic number for baking, why sugar turns brown when you cook it, the difference between baking soda and baking powder, etc.

From the producer:

Equal parts smart and sardonic, creator and host Alton Brown uses a combination of classroom methods and wacky comedy sketches to explain not just how to whip up an excellent dish, but also why the ingredients interact as they do when you put them all together. Brown has said that the show’s inspiration is to combine Julia Child, Mr. Wizard and “Monty Python.”

Who is it for

This is a fun show for families to watch together, especially if the kids are interested in cooking.

The show is definitely not vegetarian or vegan, so young cooks avoiding meat and dairy will not find as much to enjoy.

What Kids Like

The editing and pacing is fast enough to not be boring. Alton Brown is avuncular and fun as a host. And the content has the right mix of humor, science, and cooking instruction.

Even if you don’t cook, or are not interested in the dishes being prepared, there is enough knowledge and entertainment to want to watch.

What Parents Like

I like that there is a show that I can watch with genuine interest along with my kids.

I also like that the explanation is about WHY to do something, not just HOW. Most cooking shows focus only on the how.

What the Critics Think

The show has been very popular since it debuted in 1999

9.4/10 on IMDb

8.7/10 on TV.com

and 92% by Google users

Concerns/Flaws

I don’t know whether this opinion is widely shared, but I much prefer the “classic” Good Eats episodes from the early 2000s. Alton Brown was more earnest then, still trying to prove himself. Brown’s persona now seems much more smug and often condescending. There also were more wacky antics with homemade props like you would see in a twisted episode of Mr. Wizard.

The older shows also had a wide open field of subjects, while now, twenty years later, he has to repeat himself or focus on more esoteric subjects.

So my recommendation is to watch the older episodes first.

A more general criticism is that there are often factual errors in the show. Not many, but enough that I (not a chef or chemist) have found a few.

And a final concern is that there are few if any vegetarian or vegan dishes prepared.

(Brown’s bio says he was born in L.A. but he speaks with a slight southern accent and is (or at least was) a big celebrity in the Atlanta area in Georgia. When I went through the Atlanta airport in 2009 there were huge [30+ feet high] banners of Alton Brown and Ludakris hanging from the ceiling. I mention that only to explain why I think the Good Eats menu seems to favor down-home country cooking. Another aside: the first time I went to Georgia I ate at some greasy spoon and noticed that the menu had a “veggie burger” only to discover that it meant the burger came with lettuce and tomato.)

Who Made it / History

The show began in 1999 by Alton Brown, who had made a name for himself as a videographer (he ran stedicam on an R.E.M. video). The ’90s were a busy time for the new Food Network, and many cooks (Emiril, Bobby Flay, Mario Batali) became household names.

The show ran from 1999 through 2012. In the intervening years, Brown has had many food TV roles, including as announcer for Iron Chef America as well as taking Good Eats as a touring road show. He has also had a surprising number of voice acting roles

The show has resumed production in 2019.

Where Can I Get it

Good Eats is shown on TV on the Food Network, and online on Hulu and YouTube TV. And you can buy individual episodes on YouTube and iTunes.