Public Media Distribution Re-Issuing ‘Room On The Broom’

Courtesy: NCircle Entertainment

There’s always room for more…on the broom.

Public Media Distribution announced Tuesday that it will re-issue the small-screen adaptation of author Julia Donaldson’s book Room on the Broom this summer.  Released via Magic Light Pictures and Orange Eye and featuring the voices of Simon Pegg (Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek Beyond), Gillian Anderson (The X-Files, The Last King of Scotland, The Fall), Rob Brydon (Cinderella, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, The Huntsman: Winter’s War) and others, the DVD will retail for MSRP of $12.99.

The movie’s story follows the journey of a witch (voiced by Anderson) and her pet dog (voiced by Martin Clumes – Shakespeare in Love, Kipper, Doc Martin) as they try to recover some lost items.  Along the way, the pair is joined by a kindly bird, cat and frog, who help save the witch from a dragon.

The new re-issue comes with the same bonus material included in the DVD’s previous 2013 release.  Those bonuses include a behind-the-scenes featurette, live performance from Donaldson and art gallery.

Room on the Broom can be ordered direct from the NCircle online store at http://www.ncircleentertainment.com/room-on-the-broom/843501008041.  To find out about even more releases from NCircle Entertainment, parents can go online to http://www.facebook.com/NCircleEntertainment or the company’s official website, http://www.NCircleEntertainment.com.

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Junie B. Jones Cast Album Is A Wonderful Introduction To Musicals For Young Audiences

Courtesy: Next Decade Entertainment

Courtesy: Next Decade Entertainment

Author Barbara Parks’ Junie B. Jones books are among the most beloved works in the world of children’s literature today.  They are to children today what perhaps author Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series was to this critic’s childhood generation – so it makes sense that considering the success of Parks’ books, they would be translated from the page to a bigger stage.  In the case of Parks’ beloved character, the stage in question was that used by thespians in theaters nationwide some years ago and has run strongly ever since.  An hour-long Broadway Junior ™ performance for middle-school students will make its debut this spring.  Before that performance makes its debut, Next Decade Entertainment, Inc. will release a special cast recording of the Junie B. Jones’ stage presentation on CD.  It goes without saying that there is plenty to appreciate about this recording beginning with its featured highlights.  That will be discussed shortly.  The varied musical styles presented throughout the 15-song, 30-minute “soundtrack” are just as important to note here as the featured highlights.  That will be discussed later.  The work of the show’s cast, as presented here, rounds out the recording’s most important elements.  Each element is important in its own way to this recording.  All things considered, Junie B. Jones: The MusicalCast Album proves to be a recording that audiences of all ages and types will enjoy.

Junie B. Jones: The Musical – ­Cast Album is a fun glimpse into the hugely popular stage adaptation of author Barbara Parks’ equally popular literary series.  While not the musical’s full recording, it is still a recording that audiences of all ages and types will enjoy.  That is due in part to the highlights featured in the recording.  The highlights include Junie meeting a new friend on the ride to school on her first day of first grade, the revelation from Junie’s new teacher that she might need glasses, the fun of a kickball game and lots more.  Throughout it all, Junie learns some very important life lessons.  Those lessons are made easily accessible for the play’s young audiences, too.  That is thanks to the work of the play’s award-winning songwriting team of Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler.  Goldrich and Heisler’s musical arrangements and lyrics do their own part in making the story believable. Veteran actress and thespian Lori Casteel does just as much in her portrayal of Jones to make the story (and Junie) believable.  Her work will be discussed later.  Getting back on the topic at hand, the highlights that are presented in this recording are more than enough to entertain audiences who might not be lucky enough to experience Junie’s first day of first grade live.  At the same time, those who have experienced the musical in person will enjoy this recording just as much as those who haven’t seen the show.  That being said, the highlights featured in this recording are key in their own way to the recording.  Collectively speaking, they are just one of the recording’s key elements.  The varied musical styles presented throughout the half-hour recording are just as important to note in examining this recording as its featured highlights.

The highlights of the Junie B. Jones musical featured in the show’s new cast album are, collectively speaking, are important in their own way to the recording’s overall presentation.  They are not its only key element.  The varied musical styles presented throughout the half-hour record are just as important to note in examining this recording as the musical’s highlights.  The record starts off with something of a poppy doo-wop style arrangement in ‘Top Secret Personal Beeswax.  The horns, guitars and drums couple with full on backing chorus to make this catchy number a fun composition.  Jones’ declaration as she writes, that what she writers is her own personal beeswax adds even more enjoyment.  Again that is due to Casteel’s work.  She makes Junie so believable as she sings.  The march-style arrangement presented in ‘Sheldon Potts’ Halftime Show’ is another example of the importance of the record’s musical styles.  It is a full-on march arrangement that instantly conjures thoughts of a marching band, which of course is the intended effect.  What’s more, being that this is a musical, audiences familiar with their musical history will get images of scenes from The Music Man, too.  That probably wasn’t the intent in developing the song’s arrangement and lyrics, but it does happen.  In turn, it becomes just one more example of what makes the musical styles presented in this record so important to its presentation.  The semi-Dixieland style arrangement at the center of ‘When Life Gives You Lemons’ is yet another example of the importance of the show’s varied musical styles.  Its arrangement conjures thoughts of songs crafted both by legendary musician Dr. John and equally well-known composer Randy Newman.  Between that arrangement and the record’s other arrangements (both noted and not), it becomes clear that the arrangements presented throughout this record are just as important to its presentation as its highlights.  Even with the variety and reach that they display, the arrangements presented here are not the record’s last important elements to note.  The work of the show’s cast in each song is just as important to note as the songs’ varied arrangements and the show’s highlights.

The highlights presented throughout this recording and the equally varied musical arrangements presented throughout the Junie B. Jones: The MusicalCast Album are both key in their own way to the recording’s presentation.  The highlights paint a wonderful, thorough picture of the story presented on stage.  The recording’s various musical styles and their arrangements are just as important to note as the show’s featured highlights.  While both elements are important in their own way to the recording, they are just two of its key elements.  The work of the show’s cast rounds out its most important elements.  Given, the cast is all adult.  Yet even being grown-ups, there is something about the group’s performances that makes each actor wholly believable.  That is rare especially in this day and age whether on the stage or on TV, but somehow the cast pulls it off here.  The way in which the performers present their lines makes each performance translate so well even in an audio-only setting, too.  That is a tribute to their work as well as those responsible for the show’s audio engineering.  When this outstanding element is set alongside the recording’s various musical styles and its featured highlights, the end result is a recording that is just as enjoyable as experiencing Junie B. Jones: The Musical in person.  They combine to make this recording a musical experience that audiences of all ages and types will enjoy.  With any luck, it will also serve to be just the first of a lifetime of musical experiences for its intended youthful listeners.

Junie B. Jones: The Musical Cast Album is the next best thing to experiencing the long-running stage presentation for audiences of all ages.  With its wonderful highlights, its equally enjoyable varied musical styles and arrangements, and its award-worthy performances by its cast, this recording is certain to entertain any listener.  With any luck, the combination of those elements will make this recording just the first in a lifetime of musical experiences for its intended youthful audiences.  It will be available next Friday, January 13 in stores and online courtesy of Next Decade Entertainment.  More information on this record is available online now along with lots of Junie B. Jones games, activities and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.juniebjones.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/juniebjonesbooks

 

 

 

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Phineas McBoof’s Adventures Should Be In Every Family’s Music Library

Courtesy: Doctor Noize, Inc.

Courtesy: Doctor Noize, Inc.

Late last month Doctor Noize and his fellow musicians, Th International Band of Misunderstood Geniuses, released the group’s latest adventure from Phineas McBoof.  The album, Phineas McBoof Crashes The Symphony was the seeming finale in the ongoing story of the world-renowned musical monkey.  If it was indeed the final movement (bad pun fully intended) in Phineas’ musical story then it was quite the ending.  Luckily for those that might be new to Phineas and his adventures, the first two “chapters” in his adventures are also available.  And they are available not just on CD but also in print.  The story’s first chapter is titled The Ballad of Phineas McBoof and the second “chapter” The Return of Phineas McBoof.  For those that might be new to adventures of Phineas and his band mates, both chapters are just as enjoyable as the latest.  This applies both to the stories’ print and musical platforms.  This critic will attempt to explain why in as much depth as possible and as clearly as possible beginning with each chapter’s story.  The presentation style of each “chapter” is just as important to note as its story.  That will be discussed later.  Last but most definitely not least of note in examining these two stories is the visual imagery that is used in the stories’ print platforms.  It plays just as much of a role in each chapter as each chapter’s story and the manner in which each is told.  Each element is clearly important in its own right to the whole of these two chapters in McBoof’s story.  Altogether they make the first two “chapters” of Phineas McBoof’s story just as enjoyable for listeners as its latest (and last?) entry.

Courtesy: Doctor Noize, Inc.

Courtesy: Doctor Noize, Inc.

The first two “chapters” in the story of Phineas McBoof and the International Band of Misunderstood Geniuses are not new releases for 2016.  That goes without saying.  For those that might not be so familiar with the adventures of the musical monkey and his fellow animal band mates though, these two chapters make a great introduction to the group and its adventures.  That is due in part to the story presented within each chapter.  Each of the story’s first two chapters tells one part of how the band came together.  In “Chapter One,” The Ballad of Phineas McBoof , listeners learn that the whole story came to be because Phineas had become tired of the rock star life that he led.  Doctor Noize points out that Phineas wanted something new because his stardom had left him in fact feeling trapped.  So he set out to start over so to speak, leading him to meet the first members of his new band—Backbone the Octopus, Bottomus the Hip Popotamus, Riley the Robot, Lenny Long Tail, and the Ooh Gah Boo Gus.  The Return  of Phineas McBoof continues that story, introducing Sidney The Beak, Luciano Frogerati, Jose, and Placido the Flamingo.  At the second “chapter’s” conclusion Phineas once again disappears, which sets up the story’s latest installment, and likely its last.  The story is in itself fun throughout both “chapters” That is because of just how original it is both in the realm of children’s music and in the realm of children’s literature.  Speaking of those two realms they “play” into the next important element of each chapter, its presentation style.

Courtesy: Doctor Noize, Inc.

Courtesy: Doctor Noize, Inc.

The story that is presented in the first two “chapters” of Phineas McBoof’s tale is in itself plenty of reason for families to add them to their home music libraries.  It is the story of how Phineas and his band mates came to meet and form their musical collective.  While the story presented in each “chapter” is entertaining in its own right the story itself is just one of those installments so enjoyable.  The manner in which each “chapter” is presented—its presentation style—is just as important to note here as the story.  Each installment is presented both in musical and print platform.  The two platforms compliment each other perfectly.  The print platforms tell the story in a style that would make Dr. Seuss proud if he were alive today.  That is proven in the rhyme scheme used within each book and the very words that are used including the characters’ names.  The books’ musical companions complete the experience.  That is because they take the tales told in the story’s books and expand on them even more with an even fuller telling of the story complete with various musical genres and pop culture references (including references to Thelonius Monk, Ringo Starr, The Beatles, etc.).  Each presentation in itself does its own share to entertain listeners of all ages.  The pair works together to keep listeners completely entertained throughout each tale.  Even as entertaining as the story’s dual presentation style is in its bigger picture, that dual presentation style is still not all that makes the first two “chapters” of Phineas’ story so enjoyable.  The imagery that is presented in the story’s literary platforms rounds out the story’s most important elements.

The story that is told through the first two “chapters” of Phineas McBoof’s tale is in itself more than enough reason for listeners of all ages to check out these two tales.  They form a solid foundation for the final “movement” in Phineas’ adventure.  The two different ways in which the story is told in each “chapter” makes Phineas’ adventure all the more enjoyable.  It is told both in print and through music.  Both platforms expertly complement one another, making the story even richer.  While the story’s dual presentation offers a certain sense of completion for listeners, it does not make Phineas’ story one hundred percent complete.  The illustrations that are used in the story’s literary presentations complete the adventures presentation.  It is clear that the artwork that is presented in each book was crafted wholly via computer.  On the surface that might not seem very creative.  But in a deeper sense, it actually is very creative.  Parents might recognize the artworks style as being very similar to that used in the classic Super Nintendo game Donkey Kong, Jr.  It is an artistic style that has been very rarely used since the days of that game (and video game system) if at all.  The world created through the artwork is rich and vivid.  The scenes that are presented are, in whole, expert visualizations of the given scenes, too.  They do a wonderful job of bringing those scenes to life.  That is especially the case when taking in the story’s broader musical presentation.  Audiences will not just see the scenes come to life, but advance in their own minds.  This brings everything full circle.  It makes suspension of disbelief all the easier for audiences and in turn makes the story all the more entertaining and engaging.  Keeping all of this in mind, The Ballad of Phineas McBoof and The Return of Phineas McBoof prove themselves to be wonderful additions to any family’s home library and a wonderful start to the tale of Phineas’ adventures.  This applies whether audiences already own McBoof’s latest adventure or not.

Cory Cullinan (a.k.a. Doctor Noize) has crafted in The Ballad of Phineas McBoof and The Return of Phineas McBoof a solid foundation for the adventures of the famed musical monkey.  That is due in large part to the story presented in each tale.  Each one is a fun tale of how Phineas and his fellow musicians first met and set out to write the greatest song ever.  The story’s dual presentation makes the overall story so rich.  That is because its print and musical platform compliments the other with its own original elements.  The illustrations that are used in the story’s literary form complete the experience.  They make the story truly come to life and pull audiences in both in reading the story and experiencing it musically.  Each element is important in its own way to each “chapter” of the story.  Altogether they bring both chapters together to make them one whole experience that the whole family will enjoy regardless of their familiarity with the adventures of Phineas McBoof.  Both “chapters” are available now and can be ordered on record and in literary form now at Doctor Noize’s official website.  More information on those “chapters” and Phineas’ latest adventure is available online now along with all of Doctor Noize’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.doctornoize.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DoctorNoize

Twitter: http://twitter.com/doctornoize

 

 

 

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Beck Announces New Upcoming Album, Tour Dates

Courtesy:  MadInk PR

Courtesy: MadInk PR

Jeff Beck has a new album on the way and new tour dates to boot.

The veteran guitarist announced this week that he will release his new album this summer.  The as yet untitled album is currently scheduled to be released Friday, July 15th.  He will also release his new book Beck01 the same week on Tuesday, July 12th.  It will be published by Genesis Publications.  The upcoming album will be Beck’s first full-length studio recording in more than six years.  His last full-length album was Emotion & Commotion.  It was released in spring of 2010.  Cover art, track listing, and more information on Beck’s new album will be announced as the album’s release date nears.

Courtesy:  Genesis Publications

Courtesy: Genesis Publications

Beck01 isn’t just another music memoir.  Rather it traces Beck’s music and cars—more specifically hot rods—and will feature some 400+ rare and previously unseen photographs and items of memorabilia.  The whole thing is narrated by a nearly 20,000 word manuscript.  The limited edition book will also be signed by Beck himself.  It can be ordered online via Genesis Publications’ online store.

 

Both Beck’s new album and book will be supported by a handful of live performances beginning Tuesday, July 19th in Port Chester, New York.  Fellow guitar legend Buddy Guy will join Beck on a number of those dates.  The tour also includes a special performance on Wednesday, August 10th at the Hollywood Bowl to celebrate Beck’s now five decades-long career.  The first leg of the tour is a run of dates in the northeast and runs through July 26th in Holmdel, NJ.  On July 27th and 29th Beck will be in Vienna, VA and Canandaigua, NY respectively before playing a pair of dates in the Midwest to close out July.  He will open August with a performance in Nashville, TN on Wednesday, August 3rd.  A new group of tour dates was announced this week.  It includes performances in the Midwest and west coast.  The complete tour schedule, including newly announced dates, is available via Beck’s official website and Facebook page.  Tickets go on sale Friday, April 8th for all dates EXCEPT Kansas City (available Saturday, April 16th), Seattle, WA (available Friday, April 22nd), and Saratoga, CA (Available TBA).

 

More information on Beck’s upcoming live dates is available online now along with updates on his new book and album, news, and more at:

 

Website: http://www.jeffbeckofficial.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jeffbeck

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jeffbeckmusic

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Prested’s Lookout Records “Bio” Is A Must Read For Music Lovers, Punk Loyalists Alike

Courtesy:  Microcosm Publishing

Courtesy: Microcosm Publishing

Author Kevin Prested’s new book Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records is essential reading for anyone that has any interest in the history of punk rock. The book, published in paperback late this past January via Microcosm Publishing,, examines as the title states, the rise and fall of one of punk’s most influential record labels. It is a label that was home to greats such as Operation Ivy, Crimpshrine, and even none other than Green Day in its heyday. But as with all great things, it came to an end; an end that was obviously not the way that anyone wanted for a once great institution, but an end nonetheless. Now thanks to Prested, who is also a music journalist, audiences get a first-hand look at what led to the famed label’s beginning and eventual sad fall. Readers will especially enjoy this book primarily thanks to the presentation of the story. Prested doesn’t try to make his story another run-of-the-mill bio/history style presentation. Rather, it comes across more as a video documentary put into book form versus the other way around. That will be discussed shortly. Another aspect of the book that readers will appreciate is the history lesson provided by Prested. Audiences learn about not just the history of Lookout Records but of the bands that once called Lookout Records home. One more factor worth noting of Prested’s book that makes it so interesting is the inclusion of the occasional picture here and there as an added illustration of Lookout’s history. None of the photos are the standard publicity photos either. Rather, they are often times more candid shots of different bands and releases put out by Lookout. It’s a minor detail, yes. But it still adds its own interest to Prested’s book. The combination of those photos, the history presented by the story, and the overall structure of the story makes Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records a must read not just for those with a love of music history but especially for those with an interest of and love for punk and its roots.

Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records is a must read for anyone with a love for and interest in not just music history but also for the history of punk rock and its roots. The main reason that it proves itself such essential reading is its overall structure. The overall structure of Prested’s presentation is not just another run-of-the-mill bio or history piece. Rather what Prested has done here is taken the road less traveled. Instead of just being a long-winded read–unlike those bios and historical pieces–Prested has used his journalistic roots and crafted a piece that is presented more like the script for a televised documentary than a literary piece. The story and the quotes from Prested’s subjects (E.g. former Lookout employee Chris Applegren, Frank Portman (The Mister T Experience, The Bomb Bassets), Scott Conway (Screeching Weasel, Even in Blackouts), etc.) are clearly separated and even specifically labeled throughout each chapter. Speaking of the chapters, the book’s chapters are relatively short, ranging anywhere from three pages to five and maybe a little more. In general though, the chapters are relatively short. So readers won’t find themselves constantly asking when the chapters are going to end. On a directly related note, the historical reflections on Lookout’s history both on the part of Prested and his subjects are themselves so entertaining that even if the chapters were longer, readers still wouldn’t have to worry about the story dragging along. The story in whole is that well-written and structured. Considering this, it would be interesting to see if Prested would ever consider turning what is essentially a script into an actual visual presentation to complement his book. Needless to say it would be just as welcome among music lovers and punk fans as his book.

The overall structure of Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records is central to its success. The road taken by Prested in this book is the polar opposite of its much more well-known counterparts. In other words it isn’t just another of those long-winded pieces that relies more on facts and figures than actually engaging the reader. For this reason alone Prested is more than deserving of his share of applause. It is just one reason that Prested is deserving of credit in examining his new book, too. The history provided by the book makes Prested just as deserving of credit. The story presents not only the history of Lookout Records but also of the bands that once made Lookout one of the biggest names in the music industry before its eventual demise. Prested explains through the course of his story Lookout Records’ humble beginnings, its slowly building fame, which seemed to climax at the debut of Green Day’s hit 1994 record Dookie, and its not entirely surprising (and in turn sad) eventual fall. The thing is that as readers will note early on in the label’s history, there was some foreshadowing of what was to come for Lookout. The warning signs were there. They just didn’t seem to be entirely heeded. In regards to the history of the bands that called Lookout home, some readers will be surprised to learn that Green Day once called Lookout Records home as did punk icons Operation Ivy, Screeching Weasel, Pansy Division, and a number of others. Readers even get to hear from members of the noted bands as part of the label’s history in regards to their own experiences during their time on Lookout Records. The combination of the labels’ history and the history of the bands signed to the label together makes for quite the interesting read that true punk devotees will not want to put down. That coupled with the book’s overall structure makes it even more of a work that music lovers and punk lovers specifically will enjoy.

The structure of Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records coupled with the history of the label and its bands makes this book one that is well worth the read whether one is a punk devotee or a music lover in general. They are together only two parts of the whole that make it such an interesting read. Last of note in regards to the book’s enjoyment is its photos. While minor, they do play their own part in the book’s enjoyment. That is because the photos, much like the overall structure of the book, are not the standard prim and proper publicity photos that one might expect. Rather, the band pictures are candid shots of some of the bands that helped Lookout get its start and vice versa. There are also random pictures of some of the vinyls and cassettes that were distributed by Lookout throughout its life. Audiences will be interested in examining some of the pictures that Prested actually discusses in his book aspects of the albums such as their artwork. Readers, for example, will be interested to learn of the DIY approach taken in regards to the artwork of many of the bands’ albums. It wasn’t that spit-shined look of so many of today’s labels. That approach mirrors the overall approach of Lookout Records in whole in terms of signing and promoting bands. It makes even more interesting the fact that said approach coupled with so much dedication and hard work led to the rise of Lookout Records. At the same time, thinking about that in the same fashion, it is just as interesting to learn that that same approach also contributed to the label’s end. Again, that goes right back to the story at the heart of the book. It shows in the grand scheme of things why in fact the pictures included in this book are just as important to its overall story as the story itself and its structure. All three elements together show clearly why Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records is a must read for music lovers in general and for those more devoted to punk rock and its roots.

Punk Rock USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records is a must read for any music lover in general and for those whose loyalties are more linked to punk and its history. The structure of the book makes it easy to follow for audiences. It comes across more along the lines of a video documentary’s script than a standard, long-winded historical piece. The story that is presented within the book’s pages makes it even more interesting for readers. That is because the story focuses not only on the history of Lookout Records in regards to its rise and fall, but also to the history of the band’s that once called Lookout Records home. Both histories are balanced quite well throughout the course of the book with the end result being an overall story that will keep readers from wanting to put the book down at any point. The band photos and photos of albums and EPs released via Lookout are just as intriguing of an addition to the overall presentation. That is because in some cases, the photos are accompanied by stories of the DIY approach taken by Lookout’s employees to crafting the releases’ artwork as well as the DIY approach taken to promote its bands. It shows that Prested was really thinking about that aspect of the book. He didn’t want to just throw in some random photos here and there. He wanted them to play their own important part in the whole of his book. The understanding of that approach also helps readers understand its role later in the label’s life, proving yet again the importance of the included photos even as minor of an element as they may seem. The combination of all three elements together proves once and for all why Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records is a book that is a must read for music lovers and more specifically punk loyalists alike. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct online via Microcosm Publishing’s online store at http://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/books/5160/. More information on this and other titles available from Microcosm Publishing is available online at:

Website: http://www.microcosmpublishing.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/microcosmpublishing

Twitter: http://twitter.com/microcosmmm

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Lionsgate Announces Release Date, Specs For Child 44

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

Lionsgate’s big screen adaptation of author Tom Rob Smith’s book Child 44 didn’t stay in theaters very long when it made its theatrical debut back on April 17th. Thankfully though, audiences that wanted to see it but didn’t get the chance will now finally get that chance as Child 44 will come home this summer.

Child 44 will be available in stores and online on Tuesday, July 21st. It will be available both on Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack and DVD + Digital combo pack. Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, Lawless), Gary Oldman (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises) and Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Prometheus, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) star in the movie, which centers on Hardy’s Soviet secret police officer Leo Demidov. After the son of Leo Demidov’s friend is killed, Demidov suspects that his superiors are covering up what really happened to the boy. When he starts investigating what really happened, he is quickly demoted and sent off to a provincial outpost with his wife Raisa (Rapace). It is there that Leo discovers that the death of his friend’s son was not the only one of its kind that has happened recently. So it is up to Leo to convince his new boss General Mikhail Nesterov (Oldman) that a crazed serial killer is on the loose and must be stopped before he takes another innocent life.

Both combo packs will include a bonus behind-the-scenes featurette titled “Reflections of History” that examines the work that went into re-creating the Soviet Union circa the 1950s. The DVD + Digital combo pack will retail for MSRP of $19.98 and the Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack for $24.99. More information on Child 44 and other titles from Lionsgate is available online now at:

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lionsgate

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Parents, Children Alike Will Enjoy Grist’s New Book/CD Combo Set

Courtesy:  The Secret Mountain

Courtesy: The Secret Mountain

This June, children’s entertainer Hilary Grist will release her new book Tomorrow is a Chance to Start Over. The book, which is set to be released Monday, June 1st via The Secret Mountain, is a great bedtime story for any young reader and his or her parents. The main reason for this is the story itself. The story centers on two young children–Ira and Isabelle–who can’t get to sleep. The brother and sister can’t sleep because of the noise from the city outside their room. So they end up using their imaginations to sail off to another place, a relaxing place, that leads them to relax and fall asleep. It’s a short story but a wonderful and imaginative story nonetheless. The story by itself is just one part of what parents and chidlren will appreciate about this book. The illustrations (so to speak) add to the story’s enjoyment. That’s because they aren’t necessarily even illustrations in the classic sense of the word. And last but not leat worth noting of the book is its companion CD. The companion CD isn’t just an audio reading of the book. It does feature an audio reading of the book. But along with that reading are ten musical tracks that will lull any young child to sleep. Each element on its own gives plenty of reason for audiences to add this book to their child’s library. Collectively, they make Tomorrow is a Chance to Start Over one of this year’s best new releases for children overall.

Tomorrow is a Chance to Start Over is one of this year’s best new releases for children. It is a great addition to any child’s personal library of books. In examining the book in whole, it proves this in a number of ways. The main way that it proves this is through the story itself. Grist doesn’t just come out and say it, but her main aim with the story presents is to motivate young children to close their eyes and dream of a calm, quiet place as a means to relax and go to sleep. She does this by telling how Ira and his sister Isabelle go off to their own quiet place to escape the noise of the city. What is most interesting about Grist’s story is that she doesn’t clearly explain that the kids have closed their eyes and in reality used their imaginations to create that quiet place. But any grown up will easily make the connection. Just as interesting is how Grist wrote the book. She didn’t just write a short story about two children relaxing in their own quiet place. Her writing style and use of words together especially encourage young children to relax and go to sleep. She wrote of their journey, “Waves rose and fell as miles drifted by. Lit by a lantern and a moon-kissed sky. ” The rising and falling of the waves is insinuated as being gentle. The imagery of the soft light of the moon in the sky and the lantern in the boat is equally calming. It’s just one example of how her writing style and use of words work so well in settling children at bed time. The rest of the story is ripe with examples. Parents and children will see those examples for themselves when they add this book to their own child’s personal library. They will also see that said writing style and use of words is just part of what makes the book so enjoyable. The book’s “illustrations” play their own part in the book’s enjoyment, too.

The story presented in Grist’s new book by itself will impress parents thanks to Grist’s smart writing style and use of calming imagery and words overall. The “illustrations” play an interesting part in the book’s enjoyment, too. That is because the illustration’s aren’t necessarily illustrations in the classic sense of the word. Ira and Isabelle look more like small dolls or even claymation figures. Their surroundings look like model sets. The two elements are set together and photographed to help bring the story to life. It’s an interesting approach that admittedly this critic has never really seen used for a book, children’s or otherwise. It is possible that such an approach has been used before. But at least in the case of this critic, it comes across as something quite original. That originality makes the experience of the story even fuller. They don’t really do much in the way of helping children fall asleep more easily. But they will entertain said young audiences. So to that extent, the pictures used to “illustrate” the story and bring it to life prove themselves just as important to the story in whole as the story itself.

Both the story and the pictures incorporated into Hilary Grist’s new book play their own important parts in the book’s enjoyment as parents will see for themselves in reading this book to their own children. They will also fin that the companion CD that comes with the book is just as important to the whole presentation. The disc features not just an audio reading of the book but ten separate musical tracks to boot. The audio reading is just as enjoyable as the book for so many reasons. Grist actually reads the book to her young audiences herself in the CD’s lead track. The gentility in her approach is itself so calming in its own right. The equally subtle use of music and sound effects in the background makes the story all the richer and more enjoyable for children and parents alike. The stand-alone musical tracks offer their own enjoyment, too. There are folk elements to the songs as well as soft lullabies and even a light jazz piece among so much more. Through it all, Grist’s own vocal style and the equally soft music together maintain such a soft tone that the two together will have any young listeners asleep in no time. It may even cause some parents to start yawning, too. That is meant in the most positive manner possible. That ability to encourage sleep among both grown-ups and children alike more than makes Dream Songs a welcome addition to Grist’s new book. Everything noted here taken into consideration, Dream Songs shows along with Tomorrow is a Chance to Start Over that the two elements together make this set one of the best new children’s releases of the year.

Tomorrow is a Chance to Start Over will be available in stores Monday, June 1st. Parents can pre-order the book online now via Hilary Grist’s official website at http://hilarygrist.com. More information on the book/CD set is available along with her latest tour dates and news both there and her official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/hilarygristmusic. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.