Browsing articles in "Kids’ Panel"

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.


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’


Ava Joy Perfects Her Style

Nov 2, 2016   //   by Ava Joy   //   Age 4-8, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Ava Joy Perfects Her Style

Check out Ava Joy’s review of Toca Tailor!


Emanuel Finds Adventure in Super Agent Jon Le Bon

Oct 26, 2016   //   by Emanuel   //   Age 4-8, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Emanuel Finds Adventure in Super Agent Jon Le Bon
Emanuel reading a Super Agent Jon Le Bon book.

Emanuel likes the Super Agent Jon Le Bon series of graphic novels because it is funny and cool.

Check this out: the graphic novels Super Agent Jon Le Bon, books 1-5 by Alex A.

Why it’s cool? Why do you like it?

I like the Jon Le Bon series because it is funny and cool. It’s funny because Jon Le Bon does silly things, like in book 5 (Time Travel Fridge) he decides he wants to fight some giraffes who walk on two legs and some weird elephants. I think it’s cool because there’s a lot of action and excitement that happens in all 5 books, since this book is an action adventure featuring secret agent Jon Le Bon.

Is it entertaining, educational, or both?

I think this book is mostly entertaining, because it’s full of a lot of action and excitement. But if you’re looking to start your own secret agency, this book tells you how to do that since it’s all about a secret agency.


Solange Reveals How Much She Loves Jessie

Oct 19, 2016   //   by Solange   //   Age 4-8, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Solange Reveals How Much She Loves Jessie

Hi, my name is Solange. I’m 8 years of age and today I’ll be happy to tell you about my favourite TV show.

My favourite TV show is ‘Jessie’.

In this video I tell you why.


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”.



Noah Reviews the ‘Insignia’ Trilogy

Oct 5, 2016   //   by Noah   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Noah Reviews the ‘Insignia’ Trilogy

The Insignia trilogy by S.J. Kincaid is a fast-paced science fiction adventure series that has been nominated for numerous awards. The trilogy takes place in the future, in the midst of World War III. In the first book, Insignia, we are quickly introduced to the two duelling sides in the war. North America, allied with Europe, Australia and Central America, is now at war with the Russo-Chinese alliance.

A failing student living in poverty, Tom Raines has no hope for a bright future. While at a casino one night with his father, he is approached by a member of the U.S. military who persuades him to be trained as an interstellar combatant. The opportunity to fight in the war using virtual reality is just the break that Tom was hoping for.

Tom begins his training in earnest after receiving a neural processor (brain implant) allowing him to think at a much faster speed than the typical human brain. He soon realizes, however, that unlike the other cadets, he seems to have a special power: the ability to interface with machines. Using only his mind, he can seize control of any computerized device.

In the second book of the series, Vortex, Tom and his fellow combatants rise up the ladder to become mid-level cadets, also called middles. Here, Tom’s loyalty is tested and he is introduced to coalition executives who will decide whether or not to sponsor him. One can only become a true combatant in the war with a corporate sponsor.

The third book, Catalyst, provides a suspenseful and action packed conclusion to the trilogy. A complex plot involving the creator of the neural implants leaves Tom and his friends alone in a very new world, desperate to devise a plan to defeat a ruthless enemy.

The character development in this trilogy is excellent. Throughout the story, the reader sees Tom grow as he learns astonishing secrets about the war. The plot is well developed, and at numerous turns, our protagonist is forced to think big about the world around him. Consequently, readers wonder what the future will hold and whether computers are getting too advanced.

This series has a lot of action, but also incorporates interesting thoughts and concepts. The plot is unique. I also liked the fact that the story takes place in the future, one that could become realistic very soon, given our fast-changing society. One of the few things I don’t like about the series is that each book did not end with a cliff hanger; rather, it simply ends. The reader wonders what may happen next but it does not spark an instant need to read the next book. Still, the trilogy has a novel plot line, one that entranced me. I would recommend these books to anyone who likes adventure, fantasy or science fiction.

My overall rating is 4.5/5 stars.


Kris’s Reflections on ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’

Sep 28, 2016   //   by Kris   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Kris’s Reflections on ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a historical fiction book. It’s written and illustrated by Brian Selznick. The book takes place in Paris following a young boy named Hugo Cabret. The book is 526 pages long, not including the credits and sources.

Stop! Wait, don’t dismiss this book for being long or historical. This book has so much to offer. It gives you a glimpse of the city of Paris and its residence. You’ll follow the life of Hugo Cabret, who is left to fend for himself.

Hugo is very talented with clocks and mechanics like his father. Hugo’s father was working on fixing a mechanical man at a museum late at night. The museum guard locked the entrance, forgetting Hugo’s father was in there. A fire broke out and Hugo’s father died. Hugo stays with his uncle. Hugo’s uncle would leave Hugo unattended for long periods of time, until one day he disappears altogether. When wandering the streets, Hugo sees the mechanical man thrown out and vows to fix it. I could go on but I don’t want to give away spoilers.

The book is fast-paced and primarily composed of illustrations. The illustrations give a soft and dream-like appearance that’ll capture your attention. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is an educational and entertaining book since it’s historical fiction. The book discusses early cinema in France, clockwork, mechanics and automatons.  The book has it’s own website and has also been made into a movie.


Jolie Scratches an Itch for Creativity

Sep 21, 2016   //   by Jolie   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Jolie Scratches an Itch for Creativity

Check this out:


Scratch is an interactive online game you can play on your computer. It is also a community where you can share your work with people all over the world. You can even work together on the same project. Scratch is made by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab and is free to use and to have an account. It is meant for 8 to 16 years old but can be used by all ages, young and old.

Scratch helps people to think creatively and express their creative side.

To start, you select a background and a sprite (your character). You use a simple programmer interface in order to bring the sprite to life. With the different actions you can put together to program to make your sprite do stuff like dance, climb, run and more! Sprites aren’t only characters, they can be balls, trees, cars, instruments, fruit and more. You can add more than one sprite to make your story complete! Plus, you can add words to make your story come alive.

You use the programming and your keyboard to tell the sprites what to do. You can also make music and add it to make the scene really come to life!

I learned about Scratch at school when one of my classmates taught us about it.

Is it entertaining, educational or a little of both?

It’s mostly entertaining, but it is also educational because it teaches you the basics of programming and lets you show your creative spirit.


Angus Finds Geocaching

Sep 14, 2016   //   by Angus   //   Age 4-8, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Angus Finds Geocaching
kids panellist Angus and GEO bracelet

Angus says geocaching is cool because you can look for them in cool parts of the city. “For some of the caches you can get a prize but you have to replace it with a prize that you bring along,” he says. “I got a bracelet with GEO on it.”

Check this out:


What is geocaching?

It is kind of like a free hide and seek game. People hide geochaches all around Toronto and all over the world. Using the free Geocache app on your phone (you need data so use your parents phone), you locate the geocaches near you, then you have to try to find them. Your phone stops locating them within 20 feet so you have about a 20 foot square to explore! They can be hidden in bushes, tied to trees, and in holes under trees. The geocaches are in plastic containers. If you find them, you open the box and you write your name and your account name in the notebook. Then you click on the happy face on the app that says you found the geocache.

Why it’s cool:

Because you can look for them and go to cool parts of the city. For some of the caches you can get a prize but you have to replace it with a prize that you bring along. I got a bracelet with GEO on it.

Educational or entertaining?

Both! You learn to read maps, and explore parts of Toronto, but also have fun – and it’s great when you find a geocache. We do it everywhere we go. Always bring a pen and a little gift!!



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