We’re still here!

We’re still here! If anyone still follows LJF, you’ll notice a look change. I’ve moved the site to wordpress.com to be easier for updating and such. Hopefully you’ll actually hear more from us now. (Don’t get your hopes up though 😉 )

It’s been a crazy year. Will is now 4, and while things were nutty during the infancy months, things seem even more hectic now that the boy continues to grow as a preschooler!

Christmas was a blast. It was the first year he’s asked for specific toys — and in this case, it was the Bewilderbeast from How To Train Your Dragon 2 — and even though he exhibited the human nature of “More! More! More!” Christmas morning, we’re working on the gratitude thing 😉

Amy and I each took Will out at different times to have him help us pick out items for him to give us. Sadly, on Christmas morning, all he did was want to open anything with his name on it. And with a look of delirium in his eye, he just couldn’t understand the idea that a present that says “From Will” wasn’t actually FOR him… even if he’d helped pick it out for us. (Next year, I’ll have him be a part of wrapping it and maybe we’ll use exclusive paper for his gifts to us). I ended up opening all of the gifts he and Amy picked out for me quietly while he harassed his little cousin. Oh well… next year perhaps!

Onward to 2015! I shall leave you with an image of Will’s prize toy of the Christmas 2014 season… the Bewilderbeast (and mini Toothless). It’s pretty sweet, I must add. It reminds me of the big Inhumanoids beasts we had as kids — or the original Rancor! (Which I was blessed to have owned. ha). 🙂






Critically Acclaimed Author Maryann Macdonald draws inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci in latest offering



“Fresh and touching…a Christmas story to share and savor all the year long.”

— Richard Peck, Newbery award winner.

 christmas cat

SOURCE: Rogers & Cowan

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Aug. 27, 2013) – Critically acclaimed author Maryann Macdonald announces the release of her highly anticipated holiday children’s book, The Christmas Cat (Penguin Group). Available nationwide on October 17, 2013, The Christmas Cat is a beautifully written read-aloud depiction of the Nativity story told in a new way and unique way with glowing illustrations by Amy Bates.


The inspiration for Macdonald’s soon-to-be published book came from Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of, La Madonna del Gatto, the Madonna of the cat (circa. 1480-1481). In the drawings, Mary is lovingly holding the baby Jesus who is embracing a cat. After seeing the drawing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Macdonald wondered, “Was it possible that Jesus might have had a pet cat?”  Then she learned of a legend about a cat living in the stable who purred Jesus to sleep the night he was born, and began to imagine the long, loving relationship the two might have had.


In support of The Christmas Cat, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will offer the title in their onsite bookstore, and is currently considering The Christmas Cat for their 2014 Christmas catalog. The book will also be featured in Bookspan’s book club.


The Christmas Cat, with Amy June Bates’ luminous illustrations, will awaken children to the beauty of the Nativity story in a new way,” says Macdonald. “My hope is that this book brings children, who love animals, closer to the childhood of Jesus, who loves us all.”


Macdonald has written more than 25 books for children, including the historical novel Odette’s Secrets.  Based on a true story, this “gentle introduction to the Holocaust” tells of a Jewish child who survives WWII by hiding in plain sight with the help of Christian friends.  The book has received much critical praise and became an Amazon children’s/teen bestseller during the summer of 2013.


For more information about The Christmas Cat, visit http://www.maryannmacdonald.com/the-christmas-cat/.


The Christmas Cat

Age Range: 3-5 years

Price: $16.99 (USD)

Hardcover: 32 pages

Release date: October 17, 2013

Language: English

ISBN 13: 978-0803734982



About Maryann Macdonald

Maryann Macdonald grew up near Detroit with seven brothers and sisters.  She lived for many years in Europe, but has now settled in New York City.   One day, while exploring the Metropolitan Museum there, she discovered the Leonardo da Vinci drawing that inspired her to write The Christmas Cat.  She has written many books for children. For more information, visit www.maryannmacdonald.com.




About Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc. is the U.S. affiliate of the internationally renowned Penguin Group, one of the largest English-language trade book publishers in the world. Formed in 1996 as a result of the merger between Penguin Books USA and The Putnam Berkley Group, Penguin Group (USA), under the stewardship of Chief Executive Officer, David Shanks, and President, Susan Petersen Kennedy, is a leading U.S. adult and children’s trade book publisher. For more information, visit www.penguin.com.


About Amy June Bates
Amy June Bates grew up in Utah and graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in illustration. She has illustrated over forty books for children and has been honored by the Society of Illustrators for her work. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and children. For more information, visit www.amybates.com.

Best-Selling VeggieTales Christmas Shows Available in a Special DVD Collection for the Very First Time




Six Fan-Favorite Titles Feature Lessons In Giving, Love, Hope and Forgiveness

SOURCE: Hoganson Media

FRANKLIN, TN (September 5, 2012) — Light the fire, make the cocoa and get ready for a VeggieTales Christmas marathon! Big Idea Entertainment, a leading studio and producer of children’s and family programming, characters and brands, announced today they will release all of their VeggieTales® Christmas titles as part of a DVD box set, VeggieTales: The Ultimate Christmas Collection, on September 29 and October 2, 2012 in Christian and general market stores respectively.


For the first time ever, the VeggieTales holiday classics will be packaged together in VeggieTales: The Ultimate Christmas Collection, providing close to four hours of entertainment for families! DVD titles included in this special collection are The Toy That Saved Christmas, The Star of Christmas, Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving, It’s a Meaningful Life, The Little Drummer Boy and VeggieTales: Sing-along Christmas Songs. As a bonus, VeggieTales: 25 Favorite Christmas Songs! CD will also be part of the three-disc box set.


“We are delighted to bring the entire collection of top-selling VeggieTales Christmas favorites together for the first time in a special collector’s pack,” said Greg Fritz, SVP Sales & Marketing of Big Idea Entertainment. “We think VeggieTales: The Ultimate Christmas Collection will help families celebrate the season and get into the holiday spirit as they watch shows that teach lessons on the true meaning of Christmas, joyful giving, being content, and how to love and forgive.”


VeggieTales: The Ultimate Christmas Collection will be supported by national print, online and radio advertising, as well as through social media promotions on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and YouTube.


About VeggieTales: The Ultimate Christmas Collection

This set contains VeggieTales’ entire Christmas collection. Now your family can enjoy classic holiday shows The Toy That Saved Christmas—a lesson in giving; The Star of Christmas—a lesson in how to love; Saint Nicholas—a story in joyful giving; It’s a Meaningful Life—a lesson in being content; and The Little Drummer Boy—a story about hope, love and forgiveness. Also included in the collection is the VeggieTales: Christmas Sing-along Songs DVD and 25 Favorite Christmas Songs! CD.


Not Rated-Three Hours and 45 Minutes-Color-5.1 Surround Sound-English & Spanish Subtitles Close-Captioned

Full Screen & Widescreen Versions

DVD UPC Codes CBA: 820413126599 $19.99 and GM: $19.99 037117043835


About Big Idea Entertainment

Big Idea Entertainment is celebrating 20 years as a leading studio and producer of children’s and family programming, characters and brands. Big Idea’s best-selling series VeggieTales® is a one of the most recognized brands in the US with moms of pre-schoolers*.  Since 1993, VeggieTales® has sold 60+ million videos, 13 million books and more than 7 million CDs.  VeggieTales® and Big Idea’s property, 3-2-1 Penguins!®, enjoyed four seasons as top-rated series on NBC Saturday mornings, Telemundo and ION TV.  The studio’s two theatrical releases, Lionsgate’s Jonah-A VeggieTales Movie® (2002), and Universal Pictures’ The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything®-A VeggieTales Movie® (2008), are distinguished among the most successful faith-based films of all time. Big Idea also maintains an extensive presence in publishing, licensing and live entertainment arenas. For more information on Big Idea, visit: www.VeggieTales.com.

*Spring 2012 Q-Score

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VeggieTales "It's A Meaningful Life" Review

VeggieTales: Sweet Pea Beauty

Company: Big Idea Entertainment
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Running Time: 50 minutes, 24 seconds
Buy It: Amazon.com
Official Site

Plot Summary

Pistachio 1It was the biggest football game of his life and Stewart (Larry the Cucumber) had a chance to win it all. Injured in one bad play, his hopes of playing in the Salad Bowl—and living a life of fame and fortune—are dashed forever. Years later, silly-but-sweet Stewart loves his family, friends and job at the toy train factory, but still wonders “what if” things had been different. When he meets a mysterious train conductor who can turn back time, Stewart gets a chance to have the life he always wanted. Will he find all he’s been looking for? And what does this mean for those he loves most? Find out in this story of wonder and a lesson in being content.

Film Review

We’ve come to expect a lot from VeggieTales over the years and with their Summer DVD release, Sweet Pea Beauty, the team delivered another pair of great stories, but the production (namely the quality of the animation) was surprisingly more than just a significant step backwards. But with their Fall episode, It’s A Meaningful Life, the team is right back on track (and on par with the quality that Sweet Pea‘s predecessor, Pistachio, delivered).

It’s common for the VeggieTales stories to be encouraging and inspiring, and to offer themes and lessons that kids and even some adults can really relate to. However, with It’s A Meaningful Life, not only is the story encouraging to children in several ways, but the theme may hit home a lot harder for most adults. First off, the story takes its central inspiration from the Frank Capra film It’s A Wonderful Life — even going so far as naming Larry The Cucumber’s central character “Stewart” after actor Jimmy Stewart, and his wife “Donna” after actress Donna Reed. But to make the story more their own, yet still familiar, Big Idea Entertainment also spoofs The Polar Express and A Christmas Carol in the process. Instead of an angel named Clarence, we have an angel named Gabe who picks up Stewart on a ghostly train that makes “three” stops, thus changing Stewart’s life. It tackles the big “what if” question that so many adults (and even some young people) struggle with during their lifetime. What if something did or did not happen? What would life be like? Would we be happier? It’s A Meaningful Life takes the source material’s theme and makes it much more God-centered, driving home the point that God’s hands are very much involved in every part of our lives and that, if we trust Him and follow Him, we are exactly where He wants us to be.

And like in It’s A Wonderful Life, …Meaningful Life shows the central character how much just one person’s life can affect those around them. It’s an important lesson to learn and one that can be easily forgotten. There’s a good chance that this will help children have the right attitude when facing life’s trials in times to come, but it’s also most likely going to encourage their parents to appreciate what they have and have been given.

There’s just one story featured on It’s A Meaningful Life, and the beloved Silly Songs With Larry sit one out for this episode. Instead, “Bedtime Songs With Junior” fills in as intermission and starts off as a seemingly slow and calming lullaby. Thankfully, the VeggieTales crew does not disappoint and the song begins to pick up until it becomes a more worthy substitute for the “Silly Songs.” But since it’s not quite as looney or ridiculous as the usual, fun silly songs, it’s more a appropriate break from the more serious feature story here.

There’s still a good blend of humor and seriousness in It’s A Meaningful Life. The Big Idea team still tosses in its usual random humor here and there to lighten up the mood (the TV commercial jingles, for example). Mr. Lunt stars as Bumble Bee, a football player who accidentally steals the glory away from Stewart — something that Stewart would regret for the rest of his life. When we see Stewart grown up, we find that he married his sweetheart and has three children – much like George Bailey does in It’s A Wonderful Life. However, before the story’s end, we learn that the littlest of Stewart’s family was actually adopted. And who better to voice an adorable adopted daughter than one of Steven Curtis Chapman’s adopted girls. Stevey Joy Ru Chapman does an exceptional job voicing the adorable little Emma, and it makes it all the more meaningful when Steven Curtis’ new song “Meant To Be,” which he wrote specifically for this DVD, plays over the credits.

It’s A Meaningful Life is another great installment in the VeggieTales catalog of stories with important life lessons. It’s a fine mix of fun, serious, and even a little Christmas spirit as the Big Idea folks tackle “A Lesson In Being Content.” It’s well worth adding to your children’s entertainment collection — and a wonderful story that you’re likely to learn something from as well.

– Review date: 9/26/10; Written by John DiBiase

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