Browsing articles in "Age 9-15"

Seth reviews The Martian

Dec 23, 2015   //   by Seth   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Seth reviews The Martian

Aside from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I was not really exited for any other movies this year. Therefore when I decided to go see The Martian on a whim, I was very much surprised by just how thoughtful and well crafted this movie is.

The Martian follows the story of the Ares 3 team on Mars, until a Martian dust storm forces the team to abort their mission. However a piece of the satellite communications radar breaks off and impales astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon), and presumed dead by his crew, they depart without him. Little do they know however, that Watney survived, and stranded on the barren wasteland that is Mars, he must use his knowledge as a botanist to survive until rescue. Once the team at NASA discovers he is alive (courtesy of satellite imagery), they immediately plan a rescue mission. The story hinges on the theme of survival against all odds.

At the forefront of the film is leading showman Matt Damon, with the terribly difficult role of playing Mark Watney. However, he pulls it off with flying colours. Throughout most of the film Matt Damon is alone on set, and he is about 75% of the film. Damon manages to play the perfect balance between botanist and survivor that the role so desperately relies on. This never sets him back and he delivers an unparalleled performance that carries the film all the way through.

The rest of the Ares 3 Team (Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, and Sebastian Stan), give very strong performances as well. There is one scene where the crew finds out Watney is alive, and Jessica Chastain delivers a very strong performance in this scene to help drive the emotions. Some other good performances come from the team at NASA (Sean Bean, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Glover, Mackenzie Davis, and many more), who help carry the plot when Matt Damon is not around. The plot can drag on a bit as the film makers tried to flesh out every character. That being said, the filmmakers did a phenomenal job at characterizing and fleshing-out all of the characters, including the supporting characters, as they all have their own important roles and all get their time to shine in the film.

Another thing that should be mentioned are the visual effects. The film opens with a breathtaking pan of the barren planet Mars and sets the bar for what this film will accomplish. The entire film is visually amazing. Mars looks fantastic and the Hermes (the Ares 3 space ship/station) all look very real and awesome. The film really has a realistic feel where the video journal entries Watney logs look very real, and the technology also looks very advanced from our current day and age but at the same time, it still looks like it would actually function, and may not be to far from what we can accomplish today. Ridley Scott should be commended for his work.

The film is also very scientifically accurate with formulas and other details accurate to the information from NASA. After doing some research, everything follows the science on Mars. It is nice to see the filmmakers put so much attention into details. The only thing is that the dust storm at the beginning of the film was over-exaggerated and would not have done nearly as much damage as it did.

If you have read the book (like I have), you will be pleased to hear the film is an excellent adaptation of Andy Weir’s The Martian. Entire scenes and lines, word for word, are taken from the book, with the plot very closely following that of the book’s, without many deviations. The movie also manages to retain the book’s signature sense of humor, from the video journal entries where Watney talks to himself, to the awesome one-liners and more. I was very surprised that this movie is so faithful to the book it is based on.

The Martian is a must see film of 2015, it is also one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I have seen in a long time. It has phenomenal pacing with fully fleshed out characters, it is a fantastic adaptation of the book as well. This movie is phenomenal.


Jolie checks out Jem and the Holograms

Dec 16, 2015   //   by Jolie   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Jolie checks out Jem and the Holograms

Check this out:

Check out the movie Jem and the Holograms.

Recently, my friend and I went to the premiere of the Jem and the Holograms movie.  My dad’s friend got us passes to the see the movie before it was even released at the theaters!  It was really exciting to get the chance to see it before anyone else.

This is a story about a shy girl named Jerrica.  She loves to sing and play the guitar, but not in front of other people.  Since her parents passed away when she was a little girl, she lives with her aunt, her sister and her two cousins, who she also considers sisters.

One day, she records a video of herself singing, but then right away tries to delete the video, which she thought she did.  But her sister finds the video and secretly uploads it to the Internet and Jerrica becomes ‘Internet famous’ under a secret identity by the name of Jem.

Jem got contacted by a recording studio in LA and she decides to join them, along with her three sisters who perform with her.  She goes to LA and brings along the robot that her dad made for her before he passed away.  That night, the robot comes alive and starts beeping and flashing its lights.  The robot gives the girls a clue to find parts that are missing from him – almost like a scavenger hunt.  This starts Jem down a road of making decisions regarding her family, friends and music.

I won’t give it all away here – it is worth checking it out!

Jem and Holograms is a sad, cute, adventurous and an awesome movie – all rolled into one.

Is it entertaining, educational or a little of both?

It’s mainly entertaining, but there is a little bit of education mixed in!  It tells you how it is okay to be yourself.


Griffin reviews The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Nov 25, 2015   //   by Griffin   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Griffin reviews The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Mysterious Benedict Society is a book for any kid who requires these things in their life: action, adventure, and peculiar puzzles.

The first in a series of three novels, and definitely a good start, it’s a great choice for kids to read on their own or with their parents.

The story is about 4 gifted children: Reynard Muldoon, Constance Contraire, George “Sticky” Washington and Kate Weatherall, a.k.a. The Great Kate Weather Machine. These four new friends have been tested and are now proven to become members of the secret Mysterious Benedict Society. They’ve been selected by Mr. Benedict to help defeat the dastardly Mr. Curtain and his evil army of Recruiters and Executives. Our clever heroes use their wits to try to outsmart their enemies even when it seems all hope is lost.

My favourite part of the book was when they were being recruited because you get to see just how skilled these characters are. Constance Contraire was probably my favourite character because she says very funny things and has an especially interesting profile that I’ll leave you all to discover for yourselves.

The Mysterious Benedict Society is a really good book and I was definitely part of the target audience. There really isn’t a whole lot I can say about it without spoiling the book, but I will say that it’s a really fun read and that if you are smart, you probably want to pick up this book from your library or bookstore. I guarantee satisfaction with a surprise ending.


Aidan reviews

Nov 11, 2015   //   by Aidan   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Aidan reviews

Check this out:
Code ( – A website designed to teach coding to people who don’t know what coding is.

Why it’s cool:
At first glance, looks just like an ordinary puzzle game. You are invited to guide Red, the Angry Bird, to a bad piggy by using a list of instructions, but by doing so, you are actually dragging/
writing code. By using clean and colorful blocks, this website teaches you how to move objects around and carry out simple tasks. Sometimes, it asks you teach a bee to tell the difference between collecting nectar and making honey. Or, it requires you to use measurements and angles to draw houses, optical illusions, and make your own designs to share with friends. It also has celebrity guests, such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, who educate you about a new tool, or they tell you the practicality of learning coding. The website is extremely fun and has only one minor flaw.


  • Teaches you from scratch how to code
  • Simple and easy to use
  • No punishment for being unsuccessful
  • Uses fun games to teach real world learning
  • Activities geared towards all ages


  • Your progress through the levels can reset after a long period of not playing

Is it educational?
Yes. Once you have completed a challenge, there is a button that will allow you to see the real code operating underneath the blocks.

For example:

MOVE FORWARD = moveForward ( ) ;

You also get to see what happens when bits of code are combined.

REPEAT 5 TIMES – MOVE FORWARD = for (var count = 0; count < 5; count++) { moveForward(); }

9/10 – Highly recommended for educational purposes.

If you’ve ever been interested in learning code, this is the perfect opportunity to be informed about code in a fun way.


Jolie’s Paperless Solution: Library eBooks

Nov 4, 2015   //   by Jolie   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Jolie’s Paperless Solution: Library eBooks

Check this out:
Try online books through your local library at

Jolie reading an ebook.

This summer, lids’ panellist Jolie and her parents went to Europe for 20 days and there was no way she could take all the paperback books she wanted. So she tried the electronic books from the Toronto Public Library.

Over the summer, I went to the cottage and some friends told me about electronic books you can borrow from your library. I thought this was a neat idea. Later in the summer, my parents and I went to Europe for 20 days and there was no way I could take all the paperback books I wanted. So we tried the electronic books from the Toronto Public Library.

First, my Dad downloaded the Overdrive App on my iPad. Then, using my mother’s Toronto Public Library account, I selected the books that I wanted to read. Some books were available right away and we downloaded them right onto my iPad. Other books were already taken so we had to wait until they became available. You can put a “hold” on the ones that are not available so that once they do become available, they are automatically are sent to your account.

I downloaded different series like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Stick Dog. My parents also downloaded some books to their iPad and read them on the trip. You can download up to 30 ebooks!

The best thing about downloading was that there was much less to carry around, it’s free, and it was fun reading them on the iPad. My Mom also liked the fact that they automatically returned after 21 days – no late fees! Plus, you can renew the books from anywhere in the world.

If you have the opportunity to download electronic books you should give it a try! It’s amazing. Just ask your local public library if they offer it or check their website. It was really easy in Toronto.

If you live in Toronto check it out at Or, check out your own public library website.

Is it entertaining, educational or a little of both?
It’s both. It’s entertaining because you read on your tablet. It’s educational because there are all types of books to discover.


Seth reviews Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Oct 28, 2015   //   by Seth   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Seth reviews Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Mission Impossible is one of those movie franchises that continues to improve with every new installment. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, the fifth in the series, continues this trend with flying colours. Continuing from the resurgence of the franchise starting with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011), Rogue Nation strives ahead by taking the best elements from all of the Mission Impossible movies and combining them into one great film.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation’s brilliance begins with great performances by all cast members. Tom Cruise gives a another solid performance as Ethan Hunt, a former IMF (Impossible Mission Force) agent, now on the run from the CIA while trying to prove the existence of a terrorist group known as The Syndicate. Cruise’s “do your own stunts” motive make for some truly remarkable scenes. The cast from Ghost Protocol is also back with solid performances by Jeremy Renner (William Brandt), Ving Rhames (Luthor Stickell), as well as Simon Pegg (Benji Dunn) who acts as much of the comic relief throughout the film. The addition of Rebecca Ferguson (Ilsa Faust), is a fantastic addition to the cast and is, perhaps, the best performance of the film. She is a complex character who keeps you guessing as to which side she is on.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation grossed $55.5 million its opening week. The story is pretty good, with the mission hinted at by the end of Ghost Protocol. Ethan Hunt must track down the Syndicate, a sinister terrorist organization bent on destruction. CIA head Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) manages to disband to IMF, disliking their destructive methods. Now a fugitive, Hunt must follow the only lead he has, a man with blonde hair and glasses. However unable to track down the Syndicate, Hunt enlists the help of former IMF agent Benji Dunn to assist him. The plot twists and turns to keep you entertained through the film.

A huge selling point for the film comes in the form of the stunts. Many practical effects were used, as well as Tom Cruise performing all of his stunts. This adds a layer of authenticity to the film, not to mention how jaw dropping the stunts are. They will keep you on the edge of your seat and are well worth watching the film for. The limited CGI that is used is put to great use, helping depict huge action sequences. These sequences are well thought out. It keeps you engaged the whole way through, and leaves you satisfied at the end. The choreography for the movies fight scenes is also superb. The amazing score composed by Joe Kraemer make for some fantastic moments.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is a solid action movie, and movie in general. It’s off the wall action scenes and great cast will keep you entertained the whole way through. I have never been more exited to hear that classic Mission Impossible theme.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation receives a 9.5/10.


Maryam shares her thoughts on the Rainbow Loom

Oct 21, 2015   //   by Maryam   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Maryam shares her thoughts on the Rainbow Loom
Rainbow Loom

Rainbow Loom is a fun crafting hobby where you can make many cool bracelets and accessories out of small rubber bands, kids’ panellist Maryam says.

Rainbow Loom is a fun crafting hobby where you can make many cool bracelets and accessories out of small rubber bands. It can be used by kids, and even adults.

It comes with one loom, a hook, c clips, and a variety of different coloured rubber bands. Out of these supplies, you can make tons of awesome bracelets, jewellery and charms.


Maryam’s favourite thing to make is the ‘barefoot-sandal’.

I just love the fact that there is a huge variety of different colours; from neon to glow-in-the-dark.

I like that you can create your own designs and make up names for them.  Also, if you don’t have a loom, there are cool designs that can be made using just your fingers, for example, the single chain, fishtail, or inverted fishtail.

My favourite thing to make is the ‘barefoot-sandal.’ The most complicated thing I have made so far is a small bag.

A lot of designs and styles I learn from YouTube videos that other users post.

Anyone can use it…just not babies or toddlers, because they can choke on the rubber bands!

Rainbow Loom can be found on YouTube, Facebook, and on their own website at


Celeste & Lola look for the Best Ice Cream in T.O.

Oct 5, 2015   //   by Lola   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Celeste & Lola look for the Best Ice Cream in T.O.

kidsmediacentre teen reviewers Celeste & Lola checked out some of the best Ice Cream shops in Toronto.

Take a look at their results and consider trying some ice cream yourself!


Zach reviews Ant-Man

Sep 14, 2015   //   by Zach   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Zach reviews Ant-Man
Ant-Man movie poster


Ant-Man was a relatively good movie. It was action-packed, comedic and well-scripted. Like the recent Marvel movies, it’s focussed on the main character — Scott Lang in this case — who is focussed on discovering his new-found powers and beating the “bad guy”. Predictably, the  good guys win and the bad guys lose.

Hank Pym was forced out of his own company by his former protégé, Darren Cross. To get even, Hank recruits the talents of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a master thief who just served the last year in prison. Lang is trained by Hank and armed with a suit that allows him to shrink to a size of an ant, control an army of ants, and even better, Lang boasts superhuman strength. He becomes Ant-Man. He then learns his enemy Darren Cross is developing a suit called “the Yellowjacket,” possessing the same powers that he does. Ant-Man must use his new skill s to prevent Cross from using the Yellowjacket for evil.

The casting for Ant-Man was very well done, Scott Lang, as a character, is no doubt inspired by Tony Stark of Iron Man fame. They’re both funny, quick witted and entertaining to watch. So choosing comedian and actor Paul Rudd to play Scott was a stroke of genius. The whole movie is very funny and entertaining.  In the theatre where I saw Ant-Man there were scenes that actually left the audience clapping in amazement. To say the least, this movie is a great blend of action and comedy.

But even though there are a ton of upsides to Ant-Man, there are some disappointments. For example, if you compare the plots from this movie and The Amazing Spider-Man (2012 installment) you’ll notice they’re pretty much the same. For example, both Ant-Man and Spider-Man “obtained” their powers in some sort of science lab. Then  there’s a training montage in both movies, followed by the realization they face significant danger from their enemies. Predictably the movie moves towards the climax in a big one-on-one fight scene between the bad guy and the good guy. As the fight concludes both characters lose someone close to them, making the viewer feel sad. As you can see, Ant-Man is yet another one of Marvel’s cliché movies.

But all in all, it’s a not a bad movie. Ant-Man is definitely one of the better movies Marvel has produced. Considering all the superhero movies Marvel is making, it is probably a must-see film of 2015.


The Shoe that Grows

May 8, 2015   //   by Celeste   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on The Shoe that Grows

Kenton Lee had moved to Africa to do missionary work in 2007. However, it didn’t end up being the right field for him. The business field Kenton needed to work in was designing a shoe that grows for impoverished people.

After visiting a very poor children’s home in Nairobi, Kenton Lee met a little girl who had cut the tops off her shoes so her feet could fit. Kenton was inspired by her article of clothing. He thought about all the kids in the world who live without shoes – all 300 million of them!! They are either too small, too big, or the shoes are broken.

The problem with not having proper footwear is the possibility of injury and infection. Kenton thought about a shoe that could adjust to the owner. The shoe could expand and grow with the child using them. Kenton began to feel very homesick and he decided to go back to his hometown in Idaho. When he returned, he was motivated to make a shoe that grows.

In 2009, Kenton made his dream come true. He pitched his non-profit organization idea to big brands like Nike and Reebok. They all turned down his shoe. But a company in Vancouver called Proof of Concept heard about his wonderful ideas and agreed to sponsor and work with him to make “growing shoes” a reality.

It took Kenton and Proof of Concept eight prototypes to make the perfect shoe. The quality of the leather is very durable and strong. The straps at the side and front of the shoe expand in a way to let the shoe grow. The shoe can grow up to five times in size. Even though the leather is strong, it is still flexible. The shoe can fold in half, making it easy to pack up and ship to those in need of them.

The cost of the shoe is $12 but a shipment of 100 shoes costs $1200. The first order of shoes that grow was shipped out in the fall. More recently, social media caught on and now there are no more shoes left. Kenton and Proof of Concept are very busy working on another shipment for the summertime. They are still fixing some things on the design, but the kids love the shoes. Even adults are fascinated with the shoe and are looking for a pair for themselves. For now, the shoe that grows is a perfect fit for those who can’t afford to buy new shoes on a regular basis.


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! @storyartscentre