Hoagie is a strategy card game for ages five and up that tasks players with building the perfect sandwich. In Hoagie, the goal is to be the first person to create a complete hoagie while spoiling the other players’ ingredients using Oogie cards. Oogies are mischevious creatures who will spoil your delicious sandwich ingredients in a hilarious variety of ways, such as a couple of Oogies who grow a mold farm on your fresh slice of bread. Spoiled ingredients are easily fixed by placing a new fresh ingredient on top, but with only six cards in your hand at a time it’s not always an easy task. Other cards may reverse game play, skip a turn, or allow you to play two cards at one adding some extra fun ways to foil your opponents plans.
You can tell by my daughter Hailey’s face that we had an absolutely amazing time trying out this new game. Her PaPa joined us for a few rounds and we all agree that this is a great game for any age range. Hailey, who turns seven next month, was easily able to grasp the rules of gameplay and found the pictures included in the instructions to be a helpful guide. As a parent, I personally found the quick game play perfect. The game lists a play time of about twenty minutes, but we were able to breeze through most games much faster than that. The short game time coupled with the small size of the game, makes this perfect for tossing in your bag for a few rounds before dinner out or anywhere you may end up with a few minutes to fill in your day.
When I asked Hailey what she thought about Hoagie, she said it reminded her of Burgertime, a classic arcade game from the 1980’s where players create hamburgers…except the bad ingredients weren’t really trying to hurt you. This is clearly a sign of two things: Hailey has great taste in games, and she and her mommy spend a little too much time in the local classic coin arcade. But honestly, this girl knows her games, and considering she has asked to play it every evening over the last week…I’d say this game has the Hailey seal of approval. That means the game also gets The Mommy Gamers seal of approval, because any game that makes our kids happy makes us happy.
You can purchase a copy of Hoagie for $17.50 on their website: www.quirkyengine.com/store/hoagie-game-limited-edition
*Please note: The Mommy Gamers were given a copy of Hoagie for review purposes, but our opinions are all our own.
My daughter Amber and I received a copy of Care for Our World, an interactive storybook app for iPad, and we had a blast playing around with it. Care for Our World, written by Karen Roberts, was originally published as a book in 2012. It included punch-out animals for children to play with. Sunbreak Games, have brought that creative play to the app with features like Habitat Playset (Amber’s favorite feature) where children can use interactive stickers to create their own animal habitats, Coloring Book where you can color a scene from the book almost anyway you want to, and Animal Encyclopedia where your child can learn about all of the animals mentioned in the story as well as hear what they sound like, and see pictures of them in the real world.
The actual storybook part of the app is well done for the most part, and is highly interactive. Nearly everything you touch has a reaction, and narration. The colors are vivid, and the illustrations are whimsical. In fact, the only thing that didn’t sit well with me was the narration. In my opinion, when you have a story with words that are rich and full of life, you should strive to have a narrator that matches them with their voice. Unfortunately, in this case the narrator falls a little flat, and while his voice is not unpleasant, he’s not far enough away from monotone for my liking. I also feel that since the app is geared for ages 3-8, not having an option for narration in the, Animal Encyclopedia section of the app was a missed opportunity, as younger children will need someone to read for them.
Overall, I think Care for Our World is lovely, and has a great deal of replay value for children. It is well worth the $2.99 investment. You can download it now on the iOS App Store by clicking here.
[box type=”info”]Sony Home Video provided us with some of the materials used in this Blog Post/Giveaway. The opinions I share are my own.[/box]
The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today is out on DVD September 6 from Sony Home Entertainment and The Mommy Gamers has a chance for one lucky winner to get a copy of this DVD! Scroll down to the bottom for your chance to enter this giveaway, and make sure to check out the fun “Princess or Pirate” quiz! After a few years of my six year old daughter dressing up like a princess for Halloween, this year she wants to be a ninja. I’m curious to see if she changes her costume choice to pirate after watching this new movie. Personally, I would choose pirate…because rum 🙂
In the brand new original animated film, Princess Alise is training to be the perfect royal but in her heart all she wants to do is sail the seven seas as a swashbuckling pirate! After setting sail, Princess Alise is shipwrecked and washes ashore on an island where she meets Lucas, a young boy who has been living there by herself. They have to work together to survive and get back to civilization!
Take the “Are you a Princess or Pirate” quiz and unlock an exclusive GIF!
A winner will be selected at random by 11:59am EST September 9th, 2016. Be sure to leave your email so we can contact you when you win. Winners addresses must be received by 9/15/16.
Each household is only eligible to win The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today! DVD via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
First, a disclaimer: I know Neal Simon, the mastermind behind AA Comics. I think he’s awesome, I think his kids are awesome, and his brilliant wife is one of my closest friends. It doesn’t hurt that my own kid, a.k.a. “Noel the Mole,” has been rendered in black and white glory within the pages of this comic book. I believe this was a wonderful project for a lawyer-by-day, creative-type-by-night to do with his kids, and I hope it inspires more of us to do the same. So I am a bit biased. I make no apologies for this fact.
Fourth Grade Confidential is one of those perfect family-friendly entertainment mixes – fun for kids, yet smart enough for adults. It features great, silly, cheesy one-liners that kids will appreciate, and references that they won’t. As a writer, I always tend to notice dialogue first, and here it’s both enlightened and funny – in the dry, Simon-esque way I’ve come to know. Some examples: “My words fell harder than a kid on a defective Slip ‘n Slide.” “I’d accuse him of Napoleonic complex, if he could understand it or I could spell it.”
Or this exchange between Adin and Noel the Mole: Adin says, “I’ll tell the other kids you like ‘My Little Pony.'” Noel’s response is, “It’s 2015. Gender stereotypes are lame. Plus, these days it’s socially acceptable to be a brony.” Basically, the author takes a bunch of noir cliches and pop culture references and makes fun of them in a way that’s totally acceptable for everyone in the family.
The black-and-white quality of the art lends it drama, as with real noir, and Simon’s bold, often stylistically simple drawings fit the style well. I can confirm that his characters, based on real people, are fairly accurate representations. Many of the settings are real too, and it’s fun for me as a resident of the northern Chicago suburbs to see how he’s transformed them into comic art.
The story is fairly straightforward: Ayla, Adin’s little sister, loses her stuffed bunny. Adin, being the good big brother he is, takes on the case. He consults informants, who send him along the path towards solving the crime. He encounters kids who are clearly bad news. He even gets help from some new allies – a friend and cousin show up late in the story to help (this part feels the most obligatory, but I get it – these awesome girls had to be included). The story is well-told and understandable, though there’s nothing new or especially polished about the plot’s actual execution. The strength of this mystery is in the humor and personality that permeates throughout.
The comic book also includes parody ads, geeky references, and additional art clearly inspired and spearheaded by the kids involved. It’s obvious this project was a labor of love, and I look forward to the proposed (as in, I proposed it, just now, are you listening, Neal?) sequel, “Sixth Grade Confidential,” which hopefully will feature a new member of the Simon family and the return of its sassy-yet-sweet cast of young characters – including Noel the Mole (hint, hint).
For the past year we have been doing a live Twitch stream as we record our weekly podcast episodes. We then take those videos and pop them onto our YouTube channel so that those of you who might have missed the live stream can still watch along as we record. Unfortunately the video from Episode 118 was irretrievably broken. It was a great episode with special guest Patrick Scott Patterson, and definitely one we weren’t happy to lose. So in an effort to still have some sort of video up for you all to watch, I did what any rational person would do…I made sock puppets and recreated the video.
This whole thing took a ridiculous amount of time to create, but ended up being a fun project that I could get the kids involved in. I also now have sock puppets of Carrie and Desirai that I can use for potential future sock puppet things. Muahahaaa! So if you happened to like the random puppet show, feel free to leave some comments below. I’m happy to pass along any sock puppet making tips that I learned along the way.
I had been down this road before. I became a Christian in college and immediately was made aware of the presence of Christian-themed anthropomorphic produce shows.
They were fine. I mean, they were cute, they told a story, had a Bible verse or two, and were generally exactly the kind of wholesome cartoons the classic Christian household would prefer to the likes of Spongebob Squarepants or Monster High.
Then there was a feature-length movie. As the brand’s popularity skyrocketed, VeggieTales quickly spiraled down the drain, replacing Christian stories and lessons with a focus on therapeutic moralistic deism. Instead of adhering closely to the Scriptures as their source material (to the point of actually putting verses on screen), VeggieTales became an avenue for teaching moral lessons (be kind, love one another) through allegorical tellings of Biblical stories with animated fruits and vegetables. Phil Vischer, one of the creators of VeggieTales, shared his regrets about what happened in an interview with the Christian Examiner back in October of 2015.
It became became a shell of what it was. It’s not that these lessons were bad, but they were no longer the Christian programming they purported to be. As such, there wasn’t great, widely available, Gospel-centered animated children’s programming anymore.
Enter Owlegories. There is no doubt anyone with even casual familiarity with VeggieTales will immediately be reminded of it when the show begins, but the similarities to the VeggieTales we have today ends very quickly.
Owlegories is a brand wrapped around a number of apps and direct-to-DVD/digital cartoon episodes. The brand makes use of a core cast of owls to tell of the glory of God through nature. Using metaphorical language, student owls learn from teacher owls about aspects of who and what God is that are like certain elements in nature. How is God like the sun? Like water? Like fire?
Owlegories is an inventive way to teach children about God by providing real world examples that can be replicated by parents. Instead of a story with ethereal touchpoints that is theoretically tied to a Biblical event (and taking wide liberties, at that) Owlegories provides concrete examples and concepts that are easy to grasp. Each episode features three ways in which God is like the aspect of nature they’re studying (the Baptist in me is proud).
The episodes reminded me a lot of VeggieTales with a little bit of The Wild Kratts thrown in. There is an adorably goofy conflict with a classic over-the-top villian owl named Devlin in each episode that the student team needs to resolve, learning about God through nature along the way.
My wife and I chuckled a few times while watching the three episodes with our children. Even though the construction of the episodes was superior to today’s VeggieTales, that wasn’t what impressed us the most: after the show was over, a guest would give a Gospel message.
The episodes, which provide the bulk of the content, can be seen via DVD or by downloading the Owlegories TV app. There is also an “Owlegories: The Original” app that allows you to view a lot of the same information in a more interactive way. and an Owlegories memory verse app currently in development. The apps are currently available for iOS and Android.
Owlegories is a labor of love initially developed by the Boto family. That team has grown to include a number of others including the accomplished Keith Alcorn, who has worked on movies like Jimmy Neutron and The Ant Bully. The leadership team is working with Spy House Productions and Gundersen Entertainment to bring Owlegories to market.
Owlegories is well on its way to becoming a Gospel-themed multimedia force, if it can keep up the quality of what they have put out so far. I do hope they continue to do so, and especially that they don’t deviate from their banner verse(s): Psalm 19:1-4.
Though I could pick nits with its theology from a personal preference perspective, I think Owelgories does an excellent job conveying the core message without diverting into a feel-good mess. I also think any parent who is looking for this kind of entertainment for their children is probably prepared to buttress it with direct teaching. Within this vein I’m very happy to see the continued efforts of the staff at Spy House/Gundersen Entertainment to engage their community on the Owlegories Blog.
There are two Owlegories DVD’s currently available that can be purchased on Amazon or at Wal-Mart or a number of other brick & mortar stores. It is an excellently produced show with a clear Biblical message. If you’re a Christian parent looking for some entertainment for your kids that is a little more Biblical and a little less moralism, it might be something for you to check out. With additional content right at your fingertips via the apps, it is easy for a family to check it out to see if it is right for them.
[box type=”info”]Warner Bros. Home Video provided me with some of the materials I used in this Blog Post/Giveaway. The opinions I share are my own.[/box]
I’m a very firm believer that you can never have too many LEGO’s laying around your floor, however…those sets aren’t cheap. So I am VERY pleased to announce this giveaway! One lucky winner will get a copy of the LEGO FRIENDS: Girlz 4 Life Blu-ray and ALSO one LEGO FRIENDS: Pop Star Dressing Room Kit. Check out the details on the movie, and the LEGO kit and then scroll down to the bottom to enter for your chance to win! Watch the LEGO friends take life in the new animated movie LEGO® FRIENDS: Girlz 4 Life. Now available on digital HD, and Blu-ray combo pack 2/2.
In this new movie Olivia, Stephanie, Emma, Mia and Andrea’s friendship is tested when the mega pop star Livi comes to town, and her manager steals the girls hit song “Girlz”. Check out this LEGO® FRIENDS: Girls 4 Life app to get the inside scoop on the friendship and listen to some rocking music! Check out more on the official L2M website.
What could be more fun than an afternoon letting your daughters hang out watching the LEGO® FRIENDS movie? Building their own LEGO® FRIENDS Pop Star Dressing Room with their friends of course! Included in the set are Emma and Livi mini dolls, a mirrored vanity with dressing room, swivel chair and more! It really sounds like an afternoon too good to be true – the girls playing together while learning about friendship, no need for intervention because everyone will be happy with these.
A winner will be selected at random by 11:59pm EST February 8, 2016. Be sure to leave your email, facebook, or twitter handle so we can contact you if you win.
Each household is only eligible to win (1) LEGO FRIENDS: Girlz 4 Life Blu-ray & LEGO FRIENDS: Pop Star Dressing Room Kit via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
Halloween has become one of my children’s favorite holidays. They rapidly consume any Halloween-themed media they can get their hands, especially books. The Halloween Happening by Priscilla York is one of those books, and has created a delightful new holiday tradition in our house.
The Halloween Happening is a story about a little pumpkin friend who comes alive and spells out a secret message in the days leading up to Halloween. The kids pick a name for their pumpkin character — we named ours Jackimus — and the book describes what happens next. Basically the pumpkin shows up each day, in a different location, holding a number. That number corresponds to a letter in the alphabet. The children record each number and then decode the message on the night before Halloween, when the pumpkin goes on his merry way until next year.
The idea is very reminiscent of The Elf on Shelf Christmas tradition, just a little less creepy. The nice thing about this setup is that each year the message can be different, and you can customize the number of days the pumpkin shows up by controlling how long the message is. Our pumpkin visits start on October 1 and run through the end of the month, so we have some wiggle for a slightly longer message this year. For people who have less patience, you could just do a week and have a nice short message.
The book itself has fantastic illustrations and is fun to read. The kids sit attentively through the whole story, and then say goodbye to our pumpkin friend until he mysteriously appears again. My daughter especially loves all the illustrations for the pumpkin’s different facial expressions throughout the story. The included stuffed pumpkin character is super cute and seems durable enough to hold up to a few years of Halloween fun, given the right storage. At this rate I am going to have a creepy box filled with various characters that come alive at different times of the year. If I ever write a horror movie script that would make the perfect starting point.
The bottom-line is: if you are looking for a fun activity that the kids can participate in around Halloween, this book seems like a great idea. It is excellent for kids that are just learning to read, or even younger kids who need practice identifying letters of the alphabet. This is a nice, warm, fuzzy experience in the middle of a spooky holiday season. My kids remain very excited about our Jackimus making daily visits all through October. I have a feeling this will be another tradition my children look forward to for a few years to come.
The Halloween Happening and other Holiday Traditions books by Priscilla York can be purchased at htraditions.com
[box type=”info”]You can read more about our official disclosure policy here. A review copy of The Halloween Happening was provided to The Mommy Gamers by Holiday Traditions.[/box]