October 26, 2006


 Lost in the woods


My kids fell in love with the book, Lost in the Woods, by husband-wife team, Carl R. Sims II and Jean Stoick, and their new companion board book, Find My Friends, which recently hit bookshelves. So we were looking forward to watching the new movie based on the book.

The story, narrated by Shirley the box turtle as she retells the story of a young fawn to a lost raccoon named Fernando Hernandafandavez, is filled with beautiful images of nature and is sure to please any young animal lovers out there.

Lost in the Woods: The Movie combines the award-winning photography from the book with delightful songs, silliness by Fernando and video to bring home the authors' message: "trust, patience and waiting for your time."

However, as much as my 4-year-old, Zoe, savored the books - she took them to preschool to share with her class - she wasn't as enthralled by the video and kept wandering off. On the other hand, my 7-year-old, Arlee, watched intently, so much so that before I knew it she was in tears over the little fawn being without his mother and all he is left with is her whispered advice. The mother gently explains to the fawn that she must leave him to prevent predators from picking up her scent and finding them.

It has a happy ending, I promise.

We found the game on the DVD-an interactive Sounds of the Forest game-hard to navigate so we just stopped trying, but we found the Behind the Scenes feature educational.

By the way, the movie just won the Wild Screen Panda's Children's Choice Award for the Best Children's Wildlife Film Worldwide.

This video, paired with the book and even the stuffed fawn the authors now have available, could be a delightful gift for nature lovers of all ages. Tamara L. O'Shaughnessy


Corn mazes, farms and pumpkins

Goebbert's Pumpkin Patch is a great place for animal people. Yeah, the corn maze was fun, but the farm was mostly based on all the strange animals they had. There was a variety from zonkeys (zebra/donkey) to rabbit-looking dogs. They had machines for you to buy food and feed it to the animals. Well, most of them - the tigers were off limits.

The most fun animal to feed were the ostriches because their long necks stretch out and their heads come speeding down toward the food and they peck the shovel clean with their beaks. It's a strange feeling, really. Then, when you go to the other areas, you can ride the camels or the ponies, which are both pretty fun because I've never ridden a camel before.

They also had a haunted house that I would say you should only go in if you're over 8-years-old, and even then it could be really scary. It really wasn't that scary, though. There were no real people and nothing jumped out at you, but the sound effects were scary. The last thing I did when I went there was the hay ride, and then we ate. They had a big enough food variety for anyone you're with to be happy. Alek Pedersen, 12

Jonamac Orchard was better for people who are older. They did have a whole area for little kids but it seems like that's just so they don't get too bored after going through the corn maze. The corn maze was really fun and really long. I had to use the map and even with it I got lost.

My favorite part was that halfway through the maze you were right by where it started but only half way, and there was a concession stand. (It was just the other side of the place where you bought the tickets.) So we just got some popcorn and ventured back into the maze, which from a sky view was a horse, a truck, 150 years in the middle and Jonamac Orchard at the top. The hardest part to get through was the truck so if you go, be careful. At night, the maze is haunted.

Like Goebbert's, they had a lot of food - we didn't buy any because the line was too long - but they also had candy, apples, cookies and pumpkins for you to buy. We bought some apples and a dutch apple pie. All in all I would say I had a lot of fun. Alek Pedersen, 12

Goebbert's Pumpkin Patch is located at 42W813 Reinking Road, Hampshire. Pumpkins, pig races, petting zoo and the corn maze is $5, $4 weekdays, free for kids 2 and under, through October. For more information, call (847) 464-5952 or visit www.pumpkinfarms.com.

Jonamac Orchard is located at 19412 Shabbona Road, Malta. Ten-acre corn maze, apple orchard, pumpkin patch, kids play area with rides, country store and bakery. The orchard's season wraps up Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the year. The orchard is open from 10 a.m.-dark during the day. $6, $4 kids 6-12, 5 and under free. In the evening the maze becomes haunted from dark-10 p.m. $8, $6 ages 6-12, not recommended for 5 and under. For more information, call (815) 825-2158 or visit www.jonamacorchard.com.

 Drop Stop 

  The Drop Stop by AteaKids prevents children from throwing things down and losing them by connecting the item to a safety belt. This product worked. I didn't have to worry about losing another cup. It allows the child to throw the item (like they always do) and retract it back themselves. The worst part about this product is that you have to remember to bring it from place to place. I would definitely recommend this product.

It has a very neutral pattern, although offering a variety of patterns would appeal to all different types of families. I think the price is a bit high - $5 would be more reasonable, although I do not know the cost that went into creating the product. When I would forget it, I would regret it later. I had to keep retrieving my son's cup versus him throwing it and pulling it back himself. I need one more of these since I have twin 16-month-old boys. Christina Lopez-Strother, Bourbonnais

Drop Stop by AteaKids, $6.95; www.ateakids.com

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