Browsing articles in "Age 9-15"

Noah Raves About ‘Ready Player One’

Apr 5, 2017   //   by Noah   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  No Comments

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline book coverIntricate and plot twisting, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is a suspenseful dystopian novel. The entire story occurs in a virtual reality world called the OASIS. Developed by multibillionaire James Halliday, the OASIS has everything that you need in life, from schooling, homes, food, and games, to cars, spaceships, and weapons. There is not a single person on the planet that does not use the OASIS. As a result, the Internet and OASIS have become synonymous. All you need are a pair of haptic gloves and a visor. However, when James Halliday dies, his billion-dollar fortune is the prize of finding the easter egg that he has hidden inside the OASIS. By finding cryptic clues and fighting great beasts, one user will win the fortune and the game.

Our protagonist, Wade Watts, has none of the amazing qualities of a true OASIS Gunter, the name for a person that searches for the hidden egg. With a Level One avatar and using it only for his schooling, he has no coins, points, or cool weapons. But Wade solves clues and finds himself at the top of a leaderboard after defeating one of the mythical guardians of the keys, devices that open the gates to a new puzzle challenge.

There are a few lessons that can be learned from reading this book. Early in the competition, Parzival, Wade’s avatar, races against the other people on the contest leaderboard. However, when several Gunters figure out that the IOI, an internet service provider, wants to win the game to take over the OASIS for evil, Parzival turns to his friends for help. As a result, we see that friendship and cooperation can be used to defeat evil.

The book is full of adventure as we watch Parzival battle great beasts and legends. Best of all, it is played like a videogame, so there is a lot of detail and suspense. One of the most interesting things is that James Halliday was born in the 1980’s. As a result, Gunters like Wade have read every book, watched every movie and played all of the games from the era, in the hope of finding some obscure reference or hint. Although I was not alive at the time, it is interesting to see how Ernest Cline has managed to combine those tidbits of the past with the setting of the future. This book takes a chilling look at the possibility of a dystopian future, and combines it with the era of the invention of the first 3D video game.

Overall, I give Ready Player One 4.5/5 stars.

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Kris Is Not Thrilled About ‘Space Between Us’

Mar 22, 2017   //   by Kris   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Kris Is Not Thrilled About ‘Space Between Us’

A mission to Mars… A mistake… A cover up… Star-crossed lovers…

Space Between Us is science fiction movie (rated PG-13) that’s main focus is on human relations, in particular, love.

A group is sent to Mars to colonize the planet because Earth won’t be able to sustain us forever. Unfortunately, on Mars, a lead astronaut dies giving birth. The child born on Mars has to be kept a secret from humanity on Earth as to not ruin the reputation of the company that planned to colonize Mars. Gardner Elliot, the first human born on Mars feels alone. He has only met less than 15 people consisting of astronauts and scientists; who have raised him into a very brilliant child. He managed to forge an unlikely friendship with a girl on Earth named Tulsa, through an internet chat room. Gardner really wants to meet Tulsa, find his father, and experience Earth. However, his body wouldn’t survive on Earth due to the effects of zero gravity on him during pregnancy. He has an enlarged heart and his bone density and lungs might not be able to handle Earth’s atmosphere.

Luckily, with a surgery and rehabilitation/training; he was able to go to Earth. When he was on Earth, he was quarantined in NASA to run tests for abnormalities that could jeopardize his time on Earth. The tests seem never ending and the likelihood of Gardner actually taking in Earth is dim. Gardner decides to escape. He eventually finds Tulsa, a sharp girl that has been bouncing from foster home to foster home. She is very upset that Gardner hasn’t messaged her in seven months, but she forgives him and agrees to help him find his father.

On the search for his father, Gardner comes to encounter the wonders of Earth and love. Within this movie, there are many good qualities and not so good qualities. I adored the amount of detail put into the movie, for example, Gardener walking funny when he arrived on Earth due to the change in gravity, or the effects of space on the body (osteogenesis imperfecta). The producer and co-writer, Richard Lewis put in a lot of effort for realism; he consulted with experts from NASA, physicians, flight surgeons, astronauts and Hubbard.

The film had lots of action and different changes of scenery which kept it exciting. However, the story was just okay. The characters all have interesting backstories and interesting quirks but they weren’t fully fleshed-out. Unfortunately, the movie went by too fast to grow a strong connection with the characters. The main part of the movie, the love between the star-crossed lovers felt disappointing and cheesy. I could sum it up in two easy words ‘puppy love’. “Gardner Elliot: [to Tulsa] I was scared I wouldn’t know how to be human. You made me human, and no matter what happens, it was worth it. All of it.”

The ending, in particular, felt dissatisfying, I felt a lot the problems were unresolved and everyone just went back to how things were in the beginning.  It was a typical teen love movie that had the special element of Mars. The premise of the movie was interesting but the movie’s plot was underwhelming. In my opinion, it receives 3/5 rating.

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There’s No Middle Ground with Solange’s Thoughts on ‘Stuck In The Middle’

Feb 22, 2017   //   by Solange   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on There’s No Middle Ground with Solange’s Thoughts on ‘Stuck In The Middle’

Nine-year-old Solange lays out the best traits of Stuck In The Middle.

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Kris Passes the Time with ‘Color Switch’

Jan 4, 2017   //   by Kris   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Kris Passes the Time with ‘Color Switch’

Color Switch is an app by Fortafy Games. It’s an addictive game in which you tap to move a ball through a variety of obstacles. The colour of the ball must match the colour of the obstacle otherwise you will have to start the level again. There are bunches of different balls to collect and different game modes to play. You can collect stars when playing different levels. The stars collected can then be used to buy unique balls. The game design changes according to the holidays/seasons.

It’s a great app to waste time by playing endless mode or the plethora of levels in all very distinct game modes. Color Switch is a challenging game that requires your attention and quick reflexes.

It’s hard to lose interest because new modes are constantly being added, and the game style changes too. The layout is colourful and bright, which is eye-catching. The game can become frustrating and tedious, however, since you only have one chance to complete the level, causing you to play the same level over and over. That is, unless you decide to watch an ad to skip a level or to get an extra life, but the extra life option only works if you’re near the end of the level. There’s also a lot of ads on the game, which is quite tiresome.

In conclusion, Color Switch is a very entertaining free game that doesn’t require wi-fi and can be enjoyed by all ages. It’s annoying when you struggle to beat a level and a wave of ads barrage you. Nonetheless, it’s a great time waster and has a colourful appearance.

 

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Noah Raves About Truancy

Dec 28, 2016   //   by Noah   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Noah Raves About Truancy

The Truancy series, written by Isamu Fukui when he was a 15-year-old high school student, is an extremely well-written and suspenseful dystopian series. Set in an experimental city divided into 58 different sectors and ruled by forces that value education, a group of schoolchildren, known as the Truants, wants to fight back.

Truancy by Isamu Fukui book coverIn the first book, Truancy, a boy named Tack is living the life of a schoolboy. Dealing with surprise tests and harsh learning ways, Tack is getting frustrated with the system. When he finds a school dropout his own age, alone in abandoned sector 19, Tack sees his life begin to change. Training under the boy, Umasi, Tack learns to fight with both words and swords. But when he witnesses the death of his sister by a Truant, Tack is devastated and wants to seek revenge.

After finding his way to one of the many Truant hideouts in the city, Tack is accepted into the rebel group. Gradually rising up the ranks, he eventually battles the leader of the Truancy for the chief role. He subsequently changes his name to Tackan and starts to realize exactly how hard the life of a leader can be.

The second book, Truancy Origins, shows us the early years of the two brothers, Umasi, the boy from sector 19, and Zyid, the future leader of the Truancy. In this book, we learn how Umasi and Zyid’s paths begin to separate.

The final book, Truancy City, brings us back to the city when Tackan is the leader of the Truants. The city’s long want of taking down the Truants might just have a new secret weapon – a boy, trained by Umasi, who is an amazing fighter and has few weaknesses. In a final all-out battle between the Truants and the general population of the city, the overarching leader of all of the experimental cities steps in, using her own troops to help maintain order. Attempting to evade the Government, the Truants try to seek refuge by leaving the city.

The series ends with a stunning conclusion at the top of the tallest building in the city, a 108-floor tower that overlooks all 58 sectors. The amazing ending shows that not all forces are what they seem to be.

This is a very well-written book with a lot of action, suspense and mystery. The character development is superb, and it is a very captivating series. It is fictionalized, yet provides a somewhat scary foreshadowing to what the future could hold.

Overall, I give this book 5/5 stars.

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The Toy That Never Gets Old: James Shares His Love for the Rubik’s Cube

Dec 14, 2016   //   by James   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on The Toy That Never Gets Old: James Shares His Love for the Rubik’s Cube

The classic Rubik’s Cube from the ’80s has been back for a while but it recently has been growing amongst many teens and tweens.

I personally have been into solving Rubik’s Cubes for almost 3 years. On average I can solve it in about 10-12 seconds. I got introduced to it by my friend, back in 2014.

I was recently on the news for the second time talking about cubing competitions! They happen about 3-4 times in Alberta a year and we have 140-220 people show up and compete! The last competition I went to I got a 13.66 3×3 average.

I think that the Rubik’s Cube is a great way to pass time as well as increase memorization and even increase your strategy skills. I recommend everyone to at least try to learn one at some time!

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Joshua Makes Chapatis

Dec 7, 2016   //   by Joshua   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Joshua Makes Chapatis

In under five minutes, Joshua will show you how he makes Ugandan chapatis.

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Noah Finds Adventure in Shipwrecks

Nov 16, 2016   //   by Noah   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Noah Finds Adventure in Shipwrecks

The Finest Hours, by Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias, is a thrilling, non-fiction story that describes in detail the most daring coast guard rescue of all time. Released as a movie in 2016, this book is inspirational and has amazing character development.

Caught in a terrible storm on Feb. 18, 1952, two different oil tankers on the coast of Cape Cod split in half. Each of the four segments was left stranded. Without engine power, these tankers drifted in the 40- to 60-foot swells, in the most dangerous storm ever seen in New England.

The Finest Hours follows four different sea rescues, each one forming a different section of the story. My favourite part was the first one, involving coast guard Bernie Webber and his crew of Richard Livesey, Andy Fitzgerald, and Ervin Maske. These four men risked their lives in a 36 foot wooden lifeboat to save the seamen trapped on the S.S Pendleton’s bow.

This story is very thought provoking, and shows what a true coast guard rescue would be like. Not only did it drag me in like a boat pulled out to sea, this book captivated my attention to the very end.

Also fascinating was the book’s epilogue, which followed the life of the CG 36500, the boat Bernie Webber used in the rescue. It explains the journey it took from the backyard of a boathouse, to huge restoration projects, to its final resting place – a museum in Cape Cod. The story also tracks what happened to the men of the gold-medal crew, an honour that each man received after this daring rescue.

Overall, I give this book 5/5 stars. I strongly recommend it.

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Kris Explains the Beauty of Kubo

Nov 9, 2016   //   by Kris   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Kris Explains the Beauty of Kubo

Kubo and the Two Strings is a fantasy adventure film. It’s directed by Travis Knight and produced with Lanika. The film follows the adventure of young boy Kubo. He resides above a village with his mother. His mother instructs that Kubo must never stay out past sunset. When Kubo disobeyed this rule, his mother’s fractured past comes back to ruin their peaceful life. It sparks an old vendetta, and forces Kubo to leave his mother and to seek the armor, helmet and sword of his father, a legendary samurai…

Kubo and the Two Strings uses traditional stop motion, puppets, computer-generated imagery, and 3D printing to create breathtaking scenery and lively characters. This interesting process added more elements to traditional stop-motion (made it futuristic), and made the transitions flow better. An 18-foot stop-motion puppet was even created! The story has the characteristics of a folklore influenced by Japanese culture. It displays a variety of emotions, as well as coming to terms with imperfections, and being human.

In conclusion, Kubo and the Two Strings has an interesting story and unique characters. In my own opinion though, I felt the story was missing something. The scenes have been laboured over to create its wondrous appearance. It teaches new methods of stop motion and Japanese culture. I think it’s a great movie to watch. However be cautious of watching with young children, there are some deep topics. I enjoyed it immensely, 4.5/5 stars.

Behind the scenes: technology – How the studio behind ‘Kubo’ went high tech to make stop-motion look astonishing

Behind the scenes: timelapse of stop-motion – A Behind-the-Scenes Timelapse Captures the Extraordinary Physical Labor for the New Stop Motion Film ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’

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An Open Letter To Parents From An Adventurous 11-Year-Old

Oct 12, 2016   //   by Maia   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on An Open Letter To Parents From An Adventurous 11-Year-Old

Dear parents,

small boat on a lake

Maia and her sister went swimming and took boat rides close to the cabin they stayed at this summer.

My name is Maia, I’m eleven years old and I love playing outside. Just this summer, I travelled to Norway and visited our family. After that we were off to our cabin. My sister and I went swimming and took boat rides around close to the cabin. We picked blueberries and mushrooms together as a family. We finished our vacation by backpacking from Oslo to Norway’s Arctic.

Even in Toronto we take hikes and bike rides all the time as a family in city parks and ravines. It is not only good for the kids it’s also good for you to bond with your family.

It’s important for kids to go outside because it gives them space to explore, be creative, make new friends and get a little messy.

It is better to get kids outside when they are around 1-6 years old because then they will enjoy it more when they get older. If you do it when they are older they won’t be use to it. That doesn’t mean you can’t start going on hikes and things like that when they are older but it won’t be as easy as it would be when they are little.

I have to admit that I also like to go on my phone and go on the computer, and having a little screen time is okay for kids too, but my parents always find a right time to tell me to go outside. I always have just as much fun outside as I do inside.

making mud pies

Make mud pies gets a little messy and it’s fun!

My sister and I have a tree house but you don’t need a tree house in you backyard to have fun, you can make mud pies, (that’s where getting a little messy comes in) do some gardening, make forts with chairs and blankets, you can make up games like obstacle courses, and find things you and you family like. If you don’t have a backyard you can go to parks and play in playgrounds and climb trees and run around.

You may think that when summer is over the fun is over but there are fun things to do in the winter too. Winter has just as many fun things to do like skiing, (downhill and cross-country) sledding, snow ball fights, making snow people, snow angels and you can come up with a game yourself. It’s also fun to play in the rain. My sister and I jump in puddles, listen to the rain falling and just dance in the rain. (until we hear thunder, then we go inside.)

Thank you for reading this and I hope you start your outdoor family adventure. As my mom always says, “there is no bad weather only bad clothing”.

—Maia

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The Kids' Panel

Meet our kids' panel: a savvy group of kids with a strong point of view about the media and the culture they consume. Culturally diverse, a range of age and interests, they'll provide you with an insight into kids' media ... what works, what doesn't and why. Check back often for new reviews. We think you'll be inspired!

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