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October 2009 Archives

DVD Review: "Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure"
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What? Are you surprised we're reviewing "Tinker Bell"? Is it too babyish?

Tink Evolution 10.jpgWe thought it might be, at first, but then we thought again. IML'ers talk a lot about this on the You Said It pages and have even sent in questions to our Advice section. When you're a tween, you're kind of stuck in the middle of different kinds of entertainment. Much that's aimed at "kids" is still fun for you to watch, and even if you don't plan on watching, you may have to if you've got younger siblings. You might also feel pressure to focus on TV, movies, and music that's aimed at older tweens and teens even though you still like the "little kid" stuff (but are embarrassed to admit it). It's interesting to think about why certain things, especially characters, are seen as too immature. Can you still enjoy something even though the company that produced it has decided to market it most heavily to viewers who are younger than you?

That's why we say, go ahead and enjoy the new "Tinker Bell" movies! Last year, the first film served up a fun and fanciful version of Tink's origin story, introduced us to the fantasy world of Pixie Hollow (clearly the coolest neighborhood in Neverland), and offered a colorful cast of all new fairies. And actress Mae Whitman did a wonderful job with a tough assignment: voicing a character that people have loved for more than 50 years. Maybe you outgrew the princesses long ago (or were never into them in the first place), but these fairies are strong female characters who care about much more than when their prince will come.

Now Tink and her fairy friends are back in a new installment on DVD and Blu-ray, "Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure." In the story, our favorite tinker gets an assignment befitting her talents: she's asked to construct the Autumn Scepter to hold the priceless Moonstone, a magical gem that is essential to producing the rare blue fairy dust, which nourishes the all-important Pixie Dust Tree. Got that? No? Well, don't worry, because this is all just an excuse for Tinker Bell to go off on a perilous and exciting adventure, meet some new friends (including a cute firefly named Blaze), and, hopefully, save the day just in the nick of time.

But even the adventure is secondary to the real heart of the movie: Tinker Bell's friendship with Terence, a handsome pixie dust fairy who's clearly crushing on her. This movie is, at its core, the story of two friends who love being together, often get on each other's nerves, occasionally fight, and sometimes need to break up for a while...Just like friends in the real world do. Friendship isn't an easy path to travel, as Tink learns. There are ups and downs, and stops and starts, but in the end true friends always get back together, because they remember the things that brought them together in the first place. Sound familiar?

The DVDs and Blu-ray discs feature some funny extras, including "bloopers" and a music video of Demi Lovato performing the movie's theme song, "Gift of a Friend." Check it out!



We hope you'll tune out the voices that tell you you're "too old for this stuff"...and even if you are, really truly, too old for this stuff, this is a great movie to watch with younger sibs or if you're babysitting.

IML's Rating: A

Get Your Halloween On!
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jackolantern.jpgBoo! Are you ready for Halloween? Judging by the amazing costume ideas you've posted on our "My 2009 Halloween Costume" You Said It page, it's going to be a funny, spooky, crazy one. Look out for legions of tweens dressed as "Twilight," "Harry Potter," "The Wizard of Oz," and other film and TV characters. We see lots of vampires of all kinds ready for action, and many of you are paying homage to the late great Michael Jackson (along with a WIDE variety of celebs both living and dead). If you're still stuck for a costume idea, here are a few of our faves:

  • Combo costumes. Like "half devil, half angel." Or "zombie cheerleaders" and "dead prom queens." It's fun and easy to take something familiar and kind of boring, then give it a Halloween twist. Make something unique with an existing costume (a great use for hand-me-downs or borrowed ones) accented with lots of scary, gory stuff like fake blood, fangs, pale makeup, etc. For instance, you could buy a simple fairy costume and be an "Evil Fairy" with just a few extra touches!
  • Time machine costumes. Every era has a look, it seems. 20's Flappers, 60's Hippies, 70's Disco Queens, and 80's New Wave/Punkers. These are fun costumes to put together because you can raid a relative's closet or thrift store for all the makings.
  • Pun costumes. Play with words and have fun watching people guess what you are! We love the "Cereal Killer" idea one IML'er posted (a cereal box with knives sticking out of it). What can you do with things like "Pig Latin," "Anchorwoman," "Black-Eyed Pea," and "Butterfingers"?
  • Black to basics costumes. Dress all in black and you'll be surprised by how you can turn yourself into a background for something simple yet hilarious. One IML'er posted about how she's using an all-black outfit and glow sticks to become a Human Stick Figure. Cover yourself in dryer lint and you're Static Cling. Wrap a fake cobweb around yourself, along with some plastic bugs, and you're a Spider Web. Tape socks all over your body and carry a laundry basket, and you're The Missing Sock Vortex. You get the gist!
To get more ideas or to share your own idea, visit My 2009 Halloween Costume.

For many people, coming up with a costume is too much pressure. Can you still have fun on Halloween if you don't dress up or feel like your costume is kinda lame? Well, that all depends on what this "holiday" means to you. It's something you can decide for yourself. If you see it as a chance to get dressed up, "be" someone (or something) else, and exercise your creative muscles, then that's great. If it's just about having fun with your friends and scoring loads of candy, that's great too. Maybe it's more appealing to you to stay home and hand out candy to younger kids. And in the end...it IS just a holiday that will be over before you know it.

Halloween can also be about helping children in other countries who don't have stuff like clean water, nutrition, health care, and education. Chances are, in the past you've done some collecting at Halloween for UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund. Now, UNICEF (and spokesperson Selena Gomez) has more options for young people to give as well as get, like creating your own "Trick-Or-Treat Online" page to collect donations from friends and family over the Internet, or ideas for hosting a Halloween party fundraiser. For more information, check out Trick-Or-Treat for UNICEF.


Music Review: "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" Soundtrack
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Yes, we are counting the days until November 20 just like many of you. November 20, when we can finally see Bella and Edward and Jacob (and Jacob's wolf incarnation) again on the big screen in "The Twilight Saga: New Moon"! Luckily, we can get a little taste for now with the movie's soundtrack, which has just been released by Chop Shop Records/Atlantic.

newmoon.jpgThe CD has some moving, broody, romantic songs, especially "Meet Me On The Equinox" by Death Cab For Cutie and "Satellite Heart" by Anya Marina. (Actually, "Satellite Heart" is the only song that to us has a truly Bella feel to it, and not just because it's sung by a woman.) Our favorite is Ok Go's "Shooting The Moon," which is more upbeat on the surface but has a sweet, sad undertone to it. What's interesting about this collection of songs is knowing that Stephenie Meyer listens to music while she writes and creates her own "playlists" for the novels, and she lists these on her website. The only band that makes it onto both the soundtrack and Stephenie's "New Moon" playlist is Muse, who she's already talked about as artists who inspire her (and whose awesome "Supermassive Black Hole" provides the backdrop for the "Twilight" movie's baseball scene).

So why, you may ask, are these not the same lists? Well, keep in mind that when a movie soundtrack is put together, a lot of people get their 2 cents. The director, for sure. The producers, probably. Stephenie Meyer, hopefully. And then there's a music coordinator who finds the songs and get the rights to use them. Usually, this person has relationships with other music industry professionals who know that getting on the soundtrack of what's going to be a gigantically huge movie is a major score. So it's pretty political, with lots of trading favors and promises.

The experience of reading a book, or seeing a movie, is specific to each and every person. It's going to be a little different for you than for your best friend, even if you both loved it. For us, none of the songs on this soundtrack really captured how we saw the big moments in "New Moon." But you may feel otherwise. At the very least, you might enjoy this soundtrack for the songs on their own and because it will remind you of the movie once you see it. It might be even more fun to create your own soundtrack with choices that reflect your personal take on the "Twilight" stories.

And if you like to write, too...do you write to music? What artists and songs inspire you the most?

IML's Rating: B+


Book Review: "The Unfinished Angel"
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Do you believe in "angels"? Maybe your idea of angels is tied to your established faith or spirituality. Maybe you just imagine cherubs with wings or women in long gowns, like you've seen in paintings. Or perhaps to you, an angel is just some unseen force that watches over us and comes to help when it's needed most. The idea of angels has been around since the beginning of civilization, and represents that part of us that's just good, plain and simple.

unfinishedangel.jpgIn "The Unfinished Angel" (HarperCollins Children's Books), author Sharon Creech lets a real "live" angel do the talking. And what talking he/she does! The first thing you'll notice (and love) about the book is the funny, not-quite-grammatical voice of this unnamed being, who's lived for centuries in an ancient stone tower in a tiny Alpine village. Our angel feels untrained and without a mission, doing what he/she can to help the locals but generally fed up with people, until a young American girl named Zola moves to town with her father. Zola is unique in many ways, including her ability to see and hear the angel...and in the end, inspire the angel to make some extraordinary things happen.

"The Unfinished Angel" will make you giggle and wonder if maybe there's an angel in your neighborhood, "flishing" into the heads of people as they sleep and making things generally okay. We love that this angel has insecurities and pet peeves just like everyone else. Zola's character is so interesting and entertaining, we wish we understood a little more about her and where she's coming from. It actually feels like this book could be longer and the story more involved, especially with such wonderful personalities populating it. But if you're feeling unlucky or just kind of annoyed by life, this is one quick read that will lift your spirits and help you discover the magic in seemingly small acts of kindness.

IML's Rating: B+


Share Your Adoption Story With IML
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When we asked for ideas on which new topics to cover on IML, we got some great suggestions. Many of you told us that you'd love to see us talk about Adoption...so that's what we're going to do! Right now we're researching lots of information for tweens on this subject. Stay tuned for its unveiling soon!

In the meantime, we're hoping to find a couple of real kids willing to share their stories with IML. Are you adopted? Or do you have an adopted sibling? We would love to talk to you about your experiences and feature them on our website. You can see some other IML'ers' stories here:

Stepfamilies: Stefanie's Story

When Your Family Moves: Katie's Story

Dealing With Death: Marissa's Story

If you'd like to be one of our next "true tales," drop us a line at itsmylife@pbs.org and tell us a little about your experiences with adoption. Please don't forget to get a parent's or guardian's permission first!


National Wildlife Federation's "Be Out There" Campaign
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Here's a kinda-sad, kinda-scary factoid: today's kids spend twice as much time indoors as their parents did. Considering your mom and dad didn't have computers, video games, or a thousand TV channels at their disposal, that sounds about right. These things are cool and often valuable additions to our lives, so does it matter if we're not outdoors as much as we could be? According to the National Wildlife Federation, that means we're losing a connection to the natural world that can benefit our minds and bodies as well as school performance and family togetherness. 

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The NWF wants you to get out of the darn house, so they've teamed with the upcoming feature film "Where the Wild Things Are" to launch Be Out There, a national campaign to get families and kids to spend daily time outdoors for their health, happiness and well-being.  Directed by Spike Jonze and based on Maurice Sendak's classic book, "Where the Wild Things Are" is the story of a young boy who feels misunderstood at home and escapes to the island of the Wild Things. Be Out There aims to show kids how they can connect with nature in their neighborhoods, schools, and communities, and view the outdoors as a play space where it's ok to just be - free to imagine, discover, and daydream.

You can visit www.BeOutThere.org to get ideas for outdoor fun, download a National Wildlife Federation "Where The Wild Things Are" poster, and find out how to be part of National Wild Rumpus Day.

Do you think you spend enough time playing outside? What's your favorite outdoor game or activity (that's not a sport)? Tell us, and maybe it'll inspire other IML'ers to create a wild rumpus!

DVD Review: "Wizards On Deck With Hannah Montana"
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Disney Channel = The Tween Channel

Do you agree?

Sometime in the last decade, the folks at Disney Channel figured out the power of pre-teens. They realized that if they pt a few great shows on the air with really appealing young celebs, most people aged 7 to 12 will watch. And watch, and watch. And then buy, buy, buy! Over the years, they've done a great job of creating programs and characters that really resonate with their target audience, providing positive role models and messages about life. Such a great job, in fact, that doesn't it sometimes feel like Disney Channel is its own universe?

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That universe comes together in three "crossover" episodes of "Wizards of Waverly Place," "The Suite Life On Deck," and "Hannah Montana" that are now available on one DVD titled "Wizards On Deck With Hannah Montana." In case you missed it, these episodes show us what kind of chaos takes place when the Russo kids take a teen cruise on the S.S. Tipton...which Miley Stewart also happens to board on her way to a concert in Hawaii. It's really fun to see characters from the different shows interacting with one another. Actually, when you look at them as one group, you can kind of recognize the "roles" that kids often play in real life. You've got The Flirt, The Class Clown, The Princess, The Annoying Little Brother, The Cool Big Brother, The Loyal BFF. Then you've got characters like Alex, Bailey, and Miley, who are the ones we're supposed to identify with most. When you see them all in the same "universe," who do you connect to?

The DVD has only a few bonus features, the best of which is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of these episodes and how the Disney Channel stars relate to one another as friends (now that's a group date we'd like to see!).

If you're really into the Disney Channel shows, this DVD might be a good one for your collection. We're not sure how often viewers will really watch it, especially since it doesn't offer much beyond what you saw on the TV broadcast. To see more of your favorite characters hanging out and getting into trouble together, you might want to check out some of the fan fiction websites online ("Fan Fiction" is when you write a story using the characters and world of an existing TV show; super fun!). 

IML's Rating: B


Add Your Drop To The Bucket
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Wow. When it rains, it pours. Or in the case of people living in the Philippines...it devastates. Typhoon Ketsana has affected hundreds of thousands of Filipino families, leaving countless children without shelter, food, clean water, and in many cases, their parents.  

Then a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck Indonesia, and the death toll keeps going up. And a major tsunami in Samoa too? Flattening villages and killing probably hundreds? That's just way too much bad stuff happening at the same time.

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When headlines like this pop into our lives, it's easy to say, "Oh, that's awful," and then go back to IM'ing our friend about how our crush smiled at us today. After all, these countries are half a world away, and the numbers of dead, injured, and homeless...well, they can just seem like numbers. With tragedies so huge, it's also normal to feel that there's no way you, as one single person, can help. 

But what if you could help? What if it were easy? What if it weren't easy but still totally worth it? Here are some ways to reach out across cultures and all those gajillions of miles and actually do something:

  • Stay current on news about the recent natural disasters on websites like www.unicef.org. Share your knowledge with friends and family. The very least we can all do is be aware of what's happening.
  • Donate your own money. Look at what you have saved up. Can you spare $10? Then encourage family members to follow your example and collect "pledges" to create a lump donation to relief efforts (even if it's a small one, more like a glob). Websites like www.unicef.org, www.redcross.org, and www.greatergood.org all collect donations for disaster relief efforts.
  • Do something fun with friends that will raise a little money. A lemonade stand, a garage sale, things like that. Make a Saturday out of it and you'll be surprised at what a good time you'll have. Read more of IML's tips for fundraising.
  • Find out if your church, temple, or community center is organizing relief efforts and ask how you can help. Someone might be collecting money, clothes, supplies, etc. to send overseas.

Other links that you can check out:

AmeriCares.org
TheHungerSite.com
TheAnimalRescueSite.com
VolunteerMatch.org

Yeah, whatever you do might be small, just a drop in a ginormous bucket. It might only help one person. But to that one person, you are a hero. And regardless of the results, you'll feel fantastic doing it!