Hard to believe that Mary Poppins is celebrating its 45th anniversary. I don’t think anyone can forget the fun of her “bag”…with all the impossible items she takes out of it. Even as an adult, it still makes my eyes widen. As much as I love the movie, I really disliked the Broadway production. My mother-in-law insisted that I take our teen age boys to see it. The fact that our tickets ran against a Giants playoff game, certainly didn’t help matters. And I was in one of those horrible positions we often find ourselves in…taking our kids to something they have no interest in seeing. I would never have thought that such a production would be interesting to two teenage boys–but the tickets were a gift. So we all went–with two cranky boys in tow. Of course we get there, and we are surrounded by scores of little kids…adding just more upset to my older son’s angst. In front of us there are two toddlers and some preschoolers. My older son takes off his glasses in protest. He’s there, but he won’t “watch”. You have to give him some credit for civil disobedience.
The show started off well enough. It is super long (2hours and 45 minutes with a 15 minute intermission)! Where is the script editor you might ask? Do they know this is a musical meant for families with young children? And of course no one can be Julie Andrews…but I was determined to be open-minded. But then we get to the scene where the kids are sent to their room for misbehaving and then that’s where the nightmare begins. Their toys start coming to life and they are scary. All of the kids in front of us leap into their parents laps–they are appropriately freaked out. I don’t understand why this addition was necessary–especially given the target audience for this show. Young children have a hard time separating fantasy from reality–what a frightening concept to think your toys can come to life and be straight out scary to boot.
As to my own family drama, my older son asked at intermission if he could go home…we agreed and he left with such joy, at least I made some part of his day cheery. My husband then looked at me, “how would you feel if I left with him?”….”Go, go”….so Matthew and I watched the rest of the show together…down to the very last moment when she flies away over head.
As I’ve mentioned, I was so scared of Where the Wild Things Are when I was little, that I insisted my parents remove it from the house. It wasn’t until I was in high school, that I found it tucked away in the back of my dad’s closet. So I’m curious to see how people respond to the movie that opens today. I think we break down into two different camps on safe scare issues…if you watched the Wizard of Oz as a kid with a blanket so that you could really cover your eyes when the Wicked Witch appeared–you probably fall into my group. I was always amazing that my brother could just sit there and watch…of course he was four years older, but still.
Spending the day going through the stacks of things that have poured in during the last two weeks. We have lots of new games that look good. Being able to see the floor and the desk tops is a good sign!
One of our testers enjoying playing with trains
One of our testers just sent in this photo of their daughter playing with trains. They are a pricey toy — but such a great opportunity for pretend, problem solving and language. One of the most enjoyable memories I have of both of my boys–was the patter that went along with their train play.
If you have a child that loves Sesame Street, take a look at this new pop-up book. If you grew up with Sesame Street, all of your favorites will be there plus relatively new characters like Elmo, Zoe and Abby Cadabby. Here’s our review. Published by Candlewick.
Playskool Explore and Grow Chase Me Critter
This fun little activity toy came in yesterday. I have a feeling our toddler testers will love running after this one–but I’m not sure parents won’t find the volume too over the top. Take a listen.
Did you know that there were toy libraries? The USA-TLA is a terrific non-profit organization that provides important information to teachers, parents, child care providers about the importance of play. There are centers all over the United States that are chock full of educators that specialize in early childhood education. Take a look at their site and their directory of centers.
Here’s what they do: (in their own words):
• Offer an important dimension to America’s educational program by providing another environment of abundant play opportunity supplemented by a collection of high-grade toys; and a forum for discussion among parents, teachers and others;
• Provide disabled children with quality, specially-adapted toys;
• Provide trained personnel to work with families to integrate disabled children into the mainstream;
• Respond to child care needs;
• Offer caregivers valuable direction in child development;
• Help parents to play with and provide play experiences for their children while becoming more informed consumers of toys.
• Affirm values of honesty and sharing among children in all walks of life.
If you’d like to know more, I encourage you to visit their website, www.usatla.org. Their Executive Director Judi Iacuzzi is one of my favorite people…a positive force of energy for the benefit of children…how could ask for more?
Our testers love both the Mini and Maxi Kick Scooters from Kickboard USA. The mini is now available in aqua. The three wheel design of these scooters makes them much more stable–which translates into a much faster learning curve. They are both on our Platinum List this year. Please remember to bring home a helmet! According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons “Non-powered scooter-related injuries accounted for an estimated 84,000 emergency room visits in 2001, 85 percent of the patients were children under 15.”
One of our wonderful toy testers, Ayla, is a finalist in the Play-Doh contest. Vote for her inventive sushi plate here. If she wins, she receives a $5,000 makeover and $5,000 is donated to Ayla’s school. Good luck!!
Looking for a fun game to play, made of wood…take a look at the updated version of Gobblet from Blue Orange Games. Gobblet x4 is a strategy game just right for kids 7 & up. Read the full review at www.toyportfolio.com.