Super Tooth

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  • Super Tooth
  • Designer: Neil J. Opitz
  • Publisher: Gamewright
  • Plays 2–4
  • Ages 6+
  • Playing Time: 10–15 minutes
  • Initial Release: 2015
  • Elevator Pitch: Race to collect matching dinosaur cards to earn tooth tokens, all the while avoiding natural disasters that mess with your hand.
  • Roar Score: 5/5

There’s no point in denying it: we’re unashamed Gamewright fanatics in this house. Especially their card games. So easy to teach and learn. So much fun to play. Perfect for almost all ages. I don’t think we’ve found a bad one.

Super Tooth is the latest in their “small box” line of card games. Gameplay is relatively simple (my 3-year-old son can absolutely hold his own), and the dino theme obviously appeals to the target audience (and me…gotta be honest).

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Terra Kids Flying Dinosaur Assembly Kit

IMG_6260It was literally a rainy day when we decided to take on this bad boy. The box had been sitting on a shelf, taunting and enticing us for far too long. It was finally time to bust out the modeling skills and put her together.

The Terra Kids flying dinosaur model kit comes from the good people at Haba, so you should know right there that it’ll be high-quality. Haba is perhaps most well known (at least in this house) as the company that makes fantastic kids games in those bright yellow boxes.

Turns out they also have a ridiculously extensive line of “classic” baby, toddler, and kid toys. I picked up the Haba catalog at Toy Fair back in February, and this model leaped off the page at me. My kids are dino-obsessed, and I knew we had to have it.

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…and Nick

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  • …and Nick
  • written by Emily Gore
  • illustrated by Leonid Gore
  • published by Atheneum Books / Simon & Schuster (2015)
  • Roar Score: 5/5

Once in a while, a book comes along that touches you before the very first word. Sometimes, the cover design enchants you. Sometimes, a title is magically worded in such a way as to draw you in. Other times, it’s something unexpected.

…and Nick, from father-and-daughter duo Emily and Leonid Gore, touched my heart from the most unexpected of places.

The copyright page.

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Questions From a Kid: Norton Juster

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(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of Questions From a Kid. Today, Zoey chats with legendary author Norton Juster.

Juster is most well known for his first book, The Phantom Tollbooth, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary! The Phantom Tollbooth is perhaps the ultimate book of puns, wordplay, and double meanings. First published in 1961 (with illustrations by Jules Feiffer), it is the story of Milo’s adventures through the Kingdom of Wisdom to rescue the princesses Rhyme and Reason.

Along the way, he is joined by Tock the watchdog and the contrary Humbug, and they all travel through places such as Dictionopolis, the Doldrums, and Digitopolis. They conduct the sunrise, and they traverse the Mountains of Ignorance.

Not a sentence in this wonderful book is wasted, and it takes several readings to fully appreciate the craft and connections that hold The Phantom Tollbooth together.

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My Pen

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  • My Pen
  • written and illustrated by Christopher Myers
  • published by Disney Hyperion (2015)
  • Roar Score: 5/5

There are a million pens in the world
and each one has a million words inside it.

I’ll admit, stories that tap into the power of imagination hit a soft spot for me. Particularly when the gateway to imagination is creativity and art. It should come as no surprise, then, that My Pen zeroed right in on that soft spot.

The message of this fantastic book is a beautiful one.

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The Princess and the Pony

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  • The Princess and the Pony
  • written and illustrated by Kate Beaton
  • published by Scholastic (2015)
  • Roar Score: 5/5

Based on the title and cover, The Princess and the Pony initially got a lukewarm to mixed reception in my house. The 6-year-old girl looked optimistic (though she’s not a “princess girl”), and the 4-year-old boy eyed it with extreme skepticism.

It only took a couple pages, though, to find them both roaring with laughter and repeating the lines after me (between giggles, of course).

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LEGO Prototyping Challenge

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The National Week of Making was a few weeks back in June, and the event coincided with the National Maker Faire here in Washington, DC. The White House even joined in the fun, and President Obama called for a nation of makers. It was a pretty big deal.

In case you missed it, or in case you’d like to celebrate the Maker Movement every day, LEGO is answering that call and continuing the celebration with a national prototyping challenge. The contest is called “Are You a LEGO Maker?” and LEGO is providing “prototyping kits” to 50 makers (age 13 and up) so they can make working version of their own inventions.

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GKIDS Retrospective: Sita Sings the Blues

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We continue our series of reviews chronicling all of the (non-Studio Ghibli) animated films distributed by GKIDS Films — some of the most original and breathtakingly beautiful animated films from around the world — and how they hold up for a young American audience.

We’re traveling chronologically (the entire retrospective is found here), and this time we’ve got…

Sita Sings the Blues (2008): Nina Paley

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Day Out With Thomas…and Percy!

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Last week, we had the joy of attending another Day out with Thomas event at the Strasburg Rail Road outside of Lancaster, PA. (To read about our previous visit, when Percy made his grand debut, click here.)

Not much has changed since last year, so our review of the event and offerings still mostly hold true. The biggest difference is that rides on Thomas and Percy are sold separately now. Thomas trains (22-minute trips) depart every 30 minutes and alternate with 12-minute Percy rides.

In addition to the train rides through beautiful central Pennsylvania farmland, there are still photo ops (with Thomas, Percy, and Sir Topham Hatt), temporary tattoos, Thomas video screenings, storytimes, and more Thomas train tables than should be legally allowed in one place.

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Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise

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  • Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise
  • written by Sean Taylor
  • illustrated by Jean Jullien
  • published by Candlewick Press (2014)
  • Roar Score: 4/5

Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise might be my favorite book of a recent spate of bedtime storybooks we’ve read here at Roarbots HQ. The art is adorable, the main character is a total joy, and the story is a genuine pleasure.

Hoot Owl is, as the title would suggest, a master of disguise. Or so he thinks. Everywhere he looks is a tasty treat. Here’s a rabbit, there’s a lamb, over yonder is a pigeon … and is that a pizza??

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Power Down, Little Robot

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  • Power Down, Little Robot
  • written by Anna Staniszewski
  • illustrated by Tim Zeltner
  • published by Henry Holt / Macmillan (2015)
  • Roar Score: 4/5

Books starring robots have an almost unfair advantage with me, but I think it’s safe to say that this one is succeeds on its own.

The conceit with Power Down, Little Robot is nothing remarkably new … but it has ROBOTS! Little Robot doesn’t want to go to bed, so he does everything in his power to delay the inevitable. Mom Unit (yes, that’s the mother’s name) is not amused and keeps trying to get Little Robot into bed.

Mom Unit will brook no argument about another can of oil, just one more bedtime manual, or nightmares about error messages. She needs Little Robot to enter sleep mode.

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Orion and the Dark

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Orion and the Dark is an absolute charm from beginning to end. The story is about a little boy (Orion) who is scared of a lot of things … but mostly the dark. As you can probably guess, he’s not a big fan of bedtime and all of the darkness that usually comes with that.

But one night, something strange happens. The Dark comes alive and creeps down into Orion’s bedroom … and it turns out not to be as scary as Orion thought. In terms of bedtime / scared-of-the-dark stories, there’s really not much new ground to tread, but this one, like I said, is a charm.

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Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2015: The Recap

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In May of this year, I attended the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration (DSMMC) at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. All told, it was a fantastic event and a wonderful opportunity.

If you haven’t already listened to my podcast or read my FAQ about my experience at DSMMC, you might want to go ahead and do that for some background.

This post is all about the recap — an image-heavy and pixie-dust-free recap. It’s the details of what happened and what attendees got to do and see during the event. It’s long, so buckle down and get scroll happy.

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Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2015: The FAQ

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In May of this year, I attended the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration (DSMMC) at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. All told, it was a fantastic event and a wonderful opportunity. I’ve heard many fellow attendees refer to it as a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience. However, I’ve had more than my fair share of legitimate once-in-a-lifetime experiences, so I’m fairly judicious when using that term.

Still, it was incredibly memorable and — as you’ll see — I have quite a bit to say and share about it. This is the story of my DSMMC adventure. As with many things Disney, there’s a heavy fog of mystery surrounding the event. I’m here today to try to dispel some of that mystery, pull back the curtain a little, and let you know what it’s all about.

Search Twitter for the #DisneySMMC hashtag or read other event recaps, and you’ll probably notice a heavy coating of pixie dust over everything.

That’s all fine and good if that’s what you’re looking for. But I’m much more interested in being honest, transparent, and helpful for those on the outside looking in. With that in mind, I’ll try to be as straightforward and honest as I can. I’m not going to hide anything.

I’ve already discussed some of my thoughts about the event on my podcast here. It caused a few ripples, which is good in my opinion.

But now I want to present a more detailed FAQ for those who are curious and want to learn more about it or for those who are interested in attending in the future. (I posted a detailed recap of the events separately here.)

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Questions From a Kid: Jim Cummings

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(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of Questions From a Kid. Today, Zoey chats with legendary voice actor Jim Cummings. Jim has given life to hundreds of characters, but he’s best known as the voice of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Darkwing Duck, and Pete.

He’s also the voice behind Hondo Ohnaka on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Tasmanian Devil, Tantor the Elephant on the Tarzan TV series, various characters on Sofia the First, Curious George, and on and on and on. The list is seemingly endless.

It’s no understatement to say that Jim Cummings is the voice of many childhoods. Scroll through his filmography on IMDb and you’ll undoubtedly find a show or movie you know and love. Many of the roles for which he is most well known are not original to him. He took over Winnie the Pooh in 1988, Tigger in 1990, and the Tasmanian Devil in 1991 (after Sterling Holloway, Paul WInchell, and Mel Blanc created those distinctive voices).

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Questions From a Kid: Jess Harnell

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(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of Questions From a Kid. Today, Zoey chats with voice actor (and all-around great guy) Jess Harnell.

Zoey knows him best as the voice of Wakko on Animaniacs, but Jess has given life to hundreds of other characters, including Chilly on Doc McStuffins, Cedric on Sofia the First, Ironhide in the Transformers movies, and dozens and dozens more.

Zoey had the chance to chat with Jess at this year’s Awesome-Con DC. In a weird twist, it was at last year’s Awesome-Con that Zoey began this journey by interviewing Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche. Almost a year later exactly, she comes full circle back to Animaniacs.

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Giveaway: Day Out With Thomas: The Celebration Tour Tickets

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It’s that time of the year again! It’s time for that little blue engine Thomas to make the rounds. And this month, the Strasburg Rail Road is kicking off summer with not only Thomas the Tank Engine but also a return of last year’s surprise favorite: Percy!

That’s right, Percy’s back! (Click here for our review of last year’s event when Percy was unveiled for the first time.)

From June 20–28, both Thomas and Percy will be giving rides at Strasburg Rail Road! Additional activities include photo ops with Sir Topham Hatt, art-and-crafts stations, more train tables and Thomas toys that you’ve ever seen assembled in one place, and storytelling sessions, among other things.

Frankly, if your kids love Thomas, this event is everything they could ever want.

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Blog Tour: Eden West with Pete Hautman

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Today, I’m thrilled to be joined by Pete Hautman, the extraordinarily talented writer of Eden West, out now from Candlewick Press. Pete’s 2004 novel, Godless, won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Eden West covers similar ground in that both books deal with the interplay between religion and control.

However, where Godless was about inventing a new religion, Eden West is about the world of cults. It is about the 12-square-mile land of Nodd, a “paradise” run by the Grace. Specifically, it’s about 17-year-old Jacob who knows nothing else about the World, except that it’s wicked and doomed to destruction. That is, until he meets Lynna and the two test their belief in the Grace with the temptations of the World.

It’s a tough YA book that tackles some serious issues in a thoughtful, respectful way. Thankfully, Pete Hautman also knows how to laugh. Which is a good thing, because for his blog tour stop here at the Roarbots, I decided to throw him some curveballs.

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Cirque du Soleil: La Nouba

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(Check out some of our previous adventures with Cirque du Soleil: Dralion, Varekai, and our tour of International Headquarters in Montreal.)

La Nouba was the first Cirque du Soleil show I ever saw. Since I’ve now seen more than 10 different Cirque shows, I guess you could say this is the one that made me a fan. I recently had the chance to see the show again, and it didn’t disappoint.

La Nouba premiered in Orlando in 1998 and was the third resident show created (Mystère and O in Las Vegas were the first two). The theater it calls home (on Downtown Disney’s West Side at the Walt Disney World Resort) was the first freestanding, permanent structure built for Cirque du Soleil, and Walt Disney Imagineering was involved in its design and construction.

Despite what many think, though, La Nouba is not owned or operated by Disney. Downtown Disney is its home, and it’s certainly a major draw to the area, but it’s not part of the larger Walt Disney World Resort. In other words, don’t expect Mickey and Goofy to be part of the highwire act.

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Blog Tour: Kids Comics Q&A with Maris Wicks

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Today, I have the privilege and honor of being a stop on the Kids Comics Q&A blog tour. The tour is sponsored by First Second Books and cosponsored by the Children’s Book Council, Every Child a Reader, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Talk about good company!

This year, Free Comic Book Day officially kicked off Children’s Book Week (May 4-10, 2015), and even though that’s past tense at this point, that shouldn’t stop you from exploring and celebrating all the joy that children’s books provide. So, please, click through to some of those links above and check out all the great stuff that’s available at each.

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The Kids Comics Q&A blog tour is meant to celebrate the many fantastic creators who are writing and drawing some downright incredible “comics for kids.” Among the many brilliant participants are several friends of The Roarbots, including Kazu Kibuishi, Jeffrey Brown, Frank Cammuso, Gene Luen Yang, Mike Maihack, Andy Runton, and Ben Hatke!

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