Books Video reviews What's Hot

What’s Hot: The Life of Severus Snape (fan made video)

It’s been almost 18 years since the first book in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series came out. Many – if not most – kids have grown up reading the books and watching the movies, eagerly anticipating the release of the next one in the series.

The story of a young wizard, as he grows up, learns about his past, has adventures, and faces his destiny of battling the evil Lord Voldemort. We root for Harry the whole way.


Woven alongside is another story.

A story of love. And anguish. And bravery.

The story of Severus Snape.

You don’t choose who you fall in love with.

Going viral right now is a YouTube video, made by Harry Potter fan kcawesome13, of “Severus Snape’s most important scenes and arcs in the Harry Potter film series in chronological order”.

 Grab your box of Kleenex.

And be prepared to be pulled back into the world of Harry Potter for 15 minutes of feels.

Music videos Parenting What's Hot

What’s Hot: Mean, by Taylor Swift (or, Tales of our First Girl Sleepover)

My daughter, Katy, had her first sleepover party recently.  She’s 9 now, and I promised when she was done with third grade she could have one.  I was a little nervous.  Although we’ve had countless boy sleepovers, this was our first GIRL sleepover.

Boy sleepovers are rowdy, wild, and full of videogames.  What would girls want to do?

Music videos What's Hot

What’s Hot: Pop Tart Cat a.k.a. Nyan Cat

Half Pop Tart, half kitty, it’s Pop Tart Cat!  My kids are hysterically in love with this Internet phenomenom.  They watch, and just laugh and laugh and laugh.  Kids.  It’s cute, and a bit addicting.  It’s funny, and a bit irritating.  There’s also an extended version here for 15 full minutes of Pop Tart Cat fun, and a new smooth jazz cover extended version here.  And if you still can’t get enough, there’s a 10 hour version here.

Just go with it.  You know you want to.

Top rated lists Top selling lists Video game reviews

Top E rated video games for kids

I’m a bit overdue, but here are my latest lists on the top selling and top rated video games that are appropriate for kids – all with an ESRB rating of E or E 10+.  This time I sorted by console, to make it easier for you.

Top selling E rated video games

Video game reviews Video reviews What's Hot

What’s Hot: Maplestory New Leaf Saga

My kids all agree the new animated Maplestory shorts, New Leaf Saga, by Brian Schmoyer (aka CirrusEpix) are hilarious.

Schmoyer, a teacher and animator from North Carolina, originally created 3 Maplestory parody shorts just for fun – as a satire of mmorpg gameplay and the typical neverending, repetitive, and illogical questing, endless monster killing (also known as grinding), along with “hackers, noobs and online romance”.

Ironically, as a result of Nexon’s marketing department seeing the parody shorts, Schmoyer ended up getting hired to produce original animations for Nexon.  Written and animated by Schmoyer, the New Leaf Saga animations explain a little bit about Maplestory, show how to play, and are informational, witty, and entertaining.

According to Schmoyer’s blog, messages he hopes to get across to the Maplestory community through New Leaf Saga include:  be nice to others, balance your playtime/play less, and create real friendships.  If you’re a Maplestory fan, be sure to check them out!

New Leaf Saga

MapleStory New Leaf Saga – Episode 1 – “Looking for Group”

(see video at top of post)

MapleStory New Leaf Saga – Episode 2 – “Epic Gear”

MapleStory New Leaf Saga – Episode 3 – “Classy”

MapleStory New Leaf Saga – Episode 4 – “B.R.B.”

MapleStory New Leaf Sata – Episode 5 – “Friends List”

MapleStory New Leaf Saga – Episode 6 – “The Problem with Portals”

A maplestory parody

Here are the original 3 shorts Schmoyer created that started it all:

The TRUE MapleStory

Another Maple Story

The Last Maple Story

Movie reviews Music videos Video reviews

Review: Arthur’s Perfect Christmas

Our family has 4 favorite holiday specials:  The original Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (not the Jim Carrey live action one), A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, and Arthur’s Perfect Christmas.

Opening with a riff on the magical Pachelbel Canon in D (my heart-melting favorite classical music song), Arthur’s Perfect Christmas has bright cheerful animation, catchy original tunes, along with wonderful and touching story lines.  Entertaining and educational, it also explains the many different ways to celebrate the holidays – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Saint Lucia – and Arthur’s Dad even cooks an authentic, time-of-Christ Christmas dinner.

(I digress, but I wanted to throw these 2 videos in here for fun:  relaxing classical Pachelbel Canon in D, and fast and furious guitar version.)

Christmas is coming.  Arthur wants snow, and to give his mom the perfect gift.  DW wants Tina the Talking Tabby – but it’s Sold Out.  Clumsy Uncle Fred’s car breaks down, and he ends up at Arthur’s house.  Muffy’s throwing a Christmas Extravaganza, but her best friend Francine can’t come.  Binky’s trying to cook something tasty.  And Buster Baxter’s Mom is stressed – trying so hard to make sure Buster has a perfect Christmas.  And all Buster can think is – maybe Christmas doesn’t have to be such a big deal; maybe it could even be Baxter Day:

“No need for presents
There’s nothing I need
You won’t find it at a store in the mall
We’re together
And that’s my gift
It’s the very best present of all”

Watch it with your kids.  I know you’ll love it.  Miracles do happen, even small ones.  And this Christmas, try something new and start a new family tradition – “stay in pajamas all day, and maybe eat a snack or five”…

Check the online schedules of your local PBS stations to see when Arthur’s Perfect Christmas is on in your area.

As Uncle Fred says, “Remember Arthur, you don’t always get what you want in life – sometimes you get something better.”

Arthur’s Perfect Christmas is appropriate for all ages, created by Marc Brown, and copyright 2000 PBS Kids.


Top rated lists Top selling lists Video game reviews

Top E rated video games for kids 2010

Note: This list is from Christmas 2010 – for my list of top E rated video games for kids for Christmas 2012 click here. And for my list of top E rated video games for kids for Christmas 2011 click here!

There’s only 46 days left until Christmas, according to eBay’s new countdown-to-Christmas clock – time to get cracking on holiday shopping plans.  Here are my latest lists on the top selling and top rated video games that are appropriate for kids – all with an ESRB rating of E or E 10+.

Music videos What's Hot

What’s Hot: music – Old Ke$ha Parody

Serious silliness. My kids have been singing this while riding in the back of the van. They actually harmonize quite well. Thank you, Key of Awesome

Of course, there’s also been alot of Captain Crunch around lately, too…

Let’s punch, Cap’n Crunch.
Then we’ll eat his face for lunch.
Fly a kite, drink some sprite.
Here we go to sleep tonight.
Tik Tok.
Found a rock.
Gonna knock these poser’s socks off.

iPad Video reviews

Review: Komaneko

Got an iPhone, iPod Touch, Droid Incredible, or, best-thing-ever, an iPad?
Got a preschooler, or elementary school aged kid?
Need something entertaining to watch on YouTube?

If so, you’ve got to check out Komaneko, an adorable Japanese stop-motion animation.  Perfect for little ones, and captivating even for big kids and adults.

Komaneko is a cat, made in stop-motion animation, that likes to make stop-motion animation films and lives with her grandfather in their home near the mountains.  She crafts her own characters and backgrounds, and sometimes, when she’s not looking, her creations come to life.  Sweet, with an amazing level of detail, a lovely original music soundtrack, and a thorough dose of humor, Komaneko reflects innocence, patience, and persistence, along with the importance of friendship.  “Komaneko” itself is made up of “koma”, meaning frame of film, and “neko”, meaning cat.

Although the clips are Japanese, there is no real “talking”, just some meowing and easily understandable sounds, so they are appropriate for any language viewers.

According to AnimeNewsNetwork, Tsuneo Goda conceived Komaneko in a 2003 short “Komaneko Hajime no Ippo” (Komaneko: The First Step) for the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography with his Dwarf production studio.

A full length movie, Komaneko: The Curious Cat, comprised of a series of animated shorts, was next in 2006.

Komaneko: The Curious Cat

2006, color, 1 hour, Japan

Komachan is a kind-hearted kitten who lives with her grandfather in a small house on a hill, who spends her time designing film sets for her dolls and making stop-motion animations with them and her 8mm film camera. Over a series of five episodes, this adorable cat, a stop motion animation herself, makes short films, grudgingly befriends a radio repairman’s son, and cheerfully befriends a strange creature who may be the Abominable Snowman. “Komaneko’s overarching theme is friendship which, coupled with the pleasant background music, delightful designs, enjoyable stories, and endearing characters, makes Komaneko: The Curious Cat just about the nicest thing I’ve ever watched in my life. One viewing is enough to turn even a cynic like me into a happy trooper. Komaneko has no dialogue other than the occasional meowing so it’s accessible to viewers of all ages and language backgrounds. It’s great for kids, and for adults like me who need to be periodically reminded by a stuffed cat that the world is a good place after all.” (Editor’s Pick,

And just this past winter (December 2009) a new stop-motion animated feature film, Komaneko Christmas: The Lost Present, was released in Japan.

Although both movies have been released on DVD in Japan, there is no english version, yet.  Luckily, several of the animated shorts are available on YouTube, and are actually viewable on an iPad or mobile phone — often when we try to view a YouTube video on our iPad, it won’t work, it says “not formatted for iPad viewing”, and it’s frustrating to click on video after video looking for one to actually play. 

So, add Komaneko to your YouTube Favorite’s, and enjoy some sweet peace and quiet next time you’ve  got 10 minutes to wait with your little one.