Morgan Reviews The Magician’s Elephant

The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

magicians elephant

Write 6 words you would put on this book if it were in the “Blind Date With A Book” shelf. Love, Searching, Elephants, Magic, Hope, Regret

Genre: Fairytale/Children’s Literature

What did you think of the illustrations? I thought that the dreamy quality of the illustrations very much suited the feel of the book. I really liked the illustrations in this book.

Who was your favorite character and why? My favorite character was Peter because he always had hope and followed his heart.

Who was your least favorite character and why? The Countess Quintet because she was selfish.

Did it grab you immediately or did it take a while? It grabbed me almost immediately. It was one of those books that got better as you read on.

Was it plot or character driven? More character driven.

What did you think of the ending? The slightest bit touching.

What was the moral of the story? Everything has a point. Everything belongs somewhere. Everyone matters.

Favorite quote: “It is important that you say what you mean to say. Time is too short. You must speak words that matter.” – Hans Ickman

What would you change? I would change the fact that when any character was mentioned, they had to use their whole name. I would also definitely change the fact that most sentences were repeated.

Have you read other books by the same author? Yes, I have also read “The Tale of Despereaux” which was okay, but I preferred this one.

Who would you recommend it to? Those who need a hopeful and touching tale with a good moral or those who like elephants and/or magic.

Number of unknown words: 6

Craft/Activity: Learn how to preform some magic tricks (that don’t involve elephants!).

Recipe: Gloria Matienne’s Mutton Stew

What’s the most unbelievable thing that’s ever happened to you?

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The Family Reviews Night At The Museum

Night At The Museum

night at the museum

Describe it in 25 words or less.

Pete: A directionless dad decides it is finally time to find a steady job in effort to gain respect from his son.

Brigette: A man has to learn how to manage a museum that comes to life at night.

Morgan: A man who becomes the night-guard at the Museum of Natural History soon finds out that all the exhibits come to life at night.

Gable: A man is hired as the night watchman at a museum but he wasn’t told that the exhibits came to life during his shift!

Genre:

Pete: Family/Comedy

Brigette: Family/Adventure

Morgan: Action/Comedy

Gable: Family/Action/Adventure/Comedy

Who was your favorite character and why?

Pete: Larry Daley because he eventually finds the courage he needed to finish the job.

Brigette: Larry because he was dedicated to his family.

Morgan: Teddy Roosevelt because he was wise.

Gable: Larry because he learned how to handle things even though, at first, he thought he couldn’t.

Who was your least favorite character and why?

Pete: Cecil but I can’t tell you why without spoiling it for you.

Brigette: Nick because he was too easily influenced by others.

Gable: Dr. McPhee because he was annoying and too serious.

How was the casting?

Pete: Lots of brilliant comedic actors of all ages.

Brigette: It was as if this role was written specifically for Ben Stiller.

Did it grab you immediately or did it take a while?

Pete: Immediate attention grabber that kept my interest throughout, even though this was not the first time I’ve seen this film.

Brigette: The little divorced family backstory is a bit of a bummer at the start, but it quickly gets more exciting and uplifting.

Morgan: It grabbed me almost immediately and I found this film very intense and entertaining.

Gable: At first it sounded lame, but I actually really enjoyed it. It had a good message and a good plot line and also it had many intense parts.

Favorite quote:

Pete: “You gotta stop fighting…North wins…slavery is bad…sorry…don’t want to burst your bubble but South, you guys get the Allman Brothers…and…Nascar.” – Larry

Brigette: “Control your young!” – Dr. McPhee

Morgan: “Nothing is impossible. If it can be dreamed it can be done.” –Teddy Roosevelt

Gable: “Some men are born great, others have greatness thrust upon them.” – Teddy Roosevelt

How was the soundtrack?

Brigette: It was scored by Alan Silvestri and you can preview it here. We’ve put the rest of the music from the film on Grooveshark.

Would you watch it again?

Brigette: This was actually my second time watching this and it was just as entertaining as the first time.

How does the film compare to the book?

Brigette: It is based on Milan Trenc’s picture book of the same name, but I have yet to read it. As much as I enjoyed the film, I have a real problem with taking a picture book aimed at very small children and making a film version that is aimed at much older children.

Is it part of a series and have you seen the rest of the series?

Brigette: Pete and I have seen Night At The Museum 2, but we plan to watch it again with the girls as well as the third film which is due out at the end of this year.

How was the ending?

Pete: Predictable but uplifting.

Brigette: A little too perfect for my liking and left a few unanswered questions.

Morgan: Good. I can’t wait for Night at the Museum 2 and 3!

What was the moral of the story?

Pete: Read the instructions.

Brigette: Don’t give up too easily.

Morgan: Work together to save the day.

Gable: Never give up because when you give up you miss out on opportunities that you can either learn from or immensely enjoy.

Did you learn anything?

Pete: Some American history.

Brigette: The film is peppered with historical tidbits.

Who would you recommend it to?

Pete: Anyone who enjoys a good laugh and fans of Teddy Roosevelt.

Brigette: Families who like comedies; it has something for the kids and the parents.

Morgan: Those who are interested in history/action and I would also recommend it to most children.

Gable: People who think history is pointless or people who never enjoy a trip to the museum.

Won’t Eat Their Cereal Opportunity: Sacajawea Won’t Eat Her Cereal

Craft/Activity: Visit the American Museum of Natural History.

Beer pairing: (Pete’s specialty) Yeastie Boys’ Rex Attitude

Favorite Architectural Detail: (Pete’s other specialty)
Museum Reception

Night At The Museum archi

Which place would you most like to spend the night at after closing time?

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Gable Reviews Kristina: The Girl King

Kristina: The Girl King, Sweden, 1638 by Carolyn Meyer

kristina-the-girl-king

Describe it in 25 words or less. The fictionalization of the diary of Kristina, the first female ruler of Sweden.

Any particular reason for choosing this book? I was interested in The Royal Diaries series and I have recently learned about wars in Sweden for school so I decided that this book might be a good insight on life in Sweden, back in the day.

Genre: Fictionalized History

Who was your favorite character and why? I wouldn’t call any of them characters because they were all real people but my favorite character was Kristina because I could relate to her the most, although I liked Karl, too.

Who was your least favorite character and why? Maria Eleonora because she was annoying and she sent mixed messages which I dislike in any person because it’s confusing.

Did it grab you immediately or did it take a while? It was better at the start, but I got bored with it as I read on.

Was it plot or character driven? Character driven, most definitely for the fact that it was a diary.

What did you think of the ending? It was a happy ending but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would’ve if the book had kept me at the same level of interest throughout.

Did you learn anything? I learned a lot about Swedish royalty and how the regular everyday people of Sweden lived their lives, especially with marriage.

Favorite quote: “That advice, like most, is easy to give but hard to put into action.” – Kristina

Who would you recommend it to? People who are interested in King Kristina and children who want to read grown-up non-fiction books but aren’t allowed to.

Number of unknown words:34

Craft/Activity: Learn how to fence.

Tell us about a time you were forced to do something out of duty that you didn’t want to do.

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Brigette Reviews Waiting To Be Heard

Waiting To Be Heard: A Memoir by Amanda Knox

Waiting-to-be-Heard

Describe it in 25 words or less. Amanda Knox speaks about her time in Italy where she was falsely accused and imprisoned for murder.

Genre: Autobiography/Memoir

Who was your favorite part and why? The detailing of Amanda’s release from prison was by far the best part for various reasons.

Who was your least favorite part and why? When Amanda is being questioned at the police station and being pressured into confessing was VERY difficult to read.

Did it grab you immediately or did it take a while? I had heard a little about this case before I read this and so I was immediately interested in what Amanda herself had to say.

What did you think of the ending? It left me with a lot of questions as to what happened beyond her immediate arrival home.

What was the moral of the story? You are never expected to know how to handle every situation in life. It is okay to ask for help.

Did you learn anything? I learned a fair bit more than I wanted about Italian prison and some about the Italian judicial system.

Favorite quote: “Still, once I commit to something, it’s hard for me to admit that it’s not working out.” – Amanda Knox

Songs:
Let It Be by The Beatles
The Star-Spangled Banner
Maybe Not by Cat Power

Who would you recommend it to? I think this is a great book for young adults who think they know everything and for parents because I think too many of them erroneously believe their children are ready for the world at large when most of it is bravado and they are much more scared and unprepared than they let on.

Number of unknown words: 1

Craft/Activity: Learn what to do if you are arrested while traveling overseas (this article is targeted specifically at Americans, but most of it will apply to anyone).

Recipe: Seattle Rolls

What would you do if police were pressuring you for a confession to a crime you didn’t commit?

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Pete Reviews Doctor No

Doctor No by Ian Fleming

Dr No5

Write 6 words you would put on this book if it were in the “Blind Date With A Book” shelf. Espionage, Jamaica, Cormorant, Centipede, Honey, Guano.

Any particular reason for choosing this book? I’m reading through Ian Fleming’s Bond series in order of release. See my other reviews here.

Genre: Spy Thriller

What did you think of the cover art? The version I had was a bit creepy. I prefer the one above.

Who was your favorite character and why? Honeychile Rider because of her understanding of nature and because she didn’t let anyone push her around.

Who was your least favorite character and why? Doctor No because he was a psychopath.

Did it grab you immediately or did it take a while? It grabbed me immediately and kept my heart pumping throughout.Fleming improves with each installment in this series.

Was it plot or character driven? A great balance of both.

What did you think of the ending? Romantic and entertaining.

What was the moral of the story? Knowledge of nature will triumph over the lust for power.

Favorite quote: “But, Doctor No, you are still a man who sleeps and eats and defecates like the rest of us. So no more conjuring tricks, please.” – James Bond

How does the book compare to the film? In 1962 this was the first Bond novel to be made into a film. Very similar to the book with most changes being minor to the overall storyline.

Would you like to see it adapted into a film? I wouldn’t mind seeing a modern re-make as the original was done on a very low budget.

Songs:
I’ve put links to the songs mentioned in the book that you can watch on YouTube.
Take Her To Jamaica Where The Rum Comes From
Jump In Line by Lord Kitchener
Don’ Touch Me Tomato by George Symonette
Marianne by Terry Gilkysonand & The Easy Riders

Who would you recommend it to? James Bond/Ian Fleming fans.

Number of unknown words: 4

Beer pairing: Fuller’s Honey Dew

Recipe: Homemade Mayonnaise

Artwork:

doctor no artwork
(source)

What do you find more interesting, facts or theories?

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The Family Reviews The Shaggy Dog

The Shaggy Dog

shaggy dog

Describe it in 25 words or less.

Pete: A district attorney switches between human and sheepdog form after being bitten by a 300 year-old Tibetan Bearded Collie.

Brigette: A man must find a way to set things right after an accident turns him into a dog.

Morgan: A not-very-good dad/husband turns into a dog after he gets bitten by a non-ageing shaggy dog.

Gable: A father is bitten by an ageless dog, thus turning himself into a dog, which leads to multiple incidents.

Genre:

Pete: Disney/Family/Comedy

Brigette, Morgan & Gable: Comedy/Family

Who was your favorite character and why?

Pete: Dave Douglas because he provided the most laughs.

Brigette: Carly because she stood up for what she believed in.

Morgan: Dave only because he tried to solve things.

Gable: Dave because he changed his ways so that he spent more time with his own family and less time at work.

Who was your least favorite character and why?

Pete: Dr. Kozak because he was selfish and greedy.

Brigette: Dr. Gwen Lichtman because she didn’t seem to believe in scientific ethics.

Morgan: Dr. Kozak because he was greedy.

Gable: Dr. Kozak for a reason I cannot say.

How was the casting?

Pete: Some big name actors mixed with some lesser knowns, but everyone did an amazing job.

Did it grab you immediately or did it take a while?

Pete: It grabbed me immediately with a very dramatic opening and kept me entertained and laughing throughout.

Brigette: It got my attention right away and wasn’t nearly as lame as I’d anticipated.

Morgan: I thought it was pretty funny almost from the very beginning and that caught my attention the whole way through.

Gable: It was intense from the start and it had a good message but, before I started watching the film, I thought it was going to be super lame and go nowhere. I was proved wrong!

Favorite quote:

Pete: “In our house, a lick doesn’t count as an apology” – Dave Douglas

Brigette: “You know, if I was putting your physics teacher in jail, you’d be thrilled.” – Dave

Morgan: “Wish I could buy you an ice-cream, but I’ve got paws and don’t have a wallet because I’m actually nude right now.” –Dave

Gable: “Just because something looks ridiculous doesn’t mean it’s not true. It just takes more courage to believe in it.” – Carly

How was the soundtrack?

Brigette: We’ve put songs from the movie on Grooveshark and you can hear three more on YouTube here. The score by Alan Menken is available for preview on iTunes.

Have you watched other films by the same director/actor?

Pete: Of the few films I’ve seen with Tim Allen this is probably my favorite.

How was the ending?

Pete: Heartwarming and uplifting.

Brigette: Heartwarming.

Morgan: I thought it was good.

Gable: Happy and satisfying, which is always nice for the end of such a nice film.

What was the moral of the story?

Pete: Remain true and focused on the people you care about.

Brigette: Your family should be your top priority.

Morgan: Sometimes it takes a while for you to realize that you need to solve a problem.

Gable: You can always change for the better, even if the current circumstances are pressing.

Who would you recommend it to?

Pete: Dog lovers.

Brigette: Families whose priorities are out of whack and animal activists.

Morgan: Slack dads/husbands.

Gable: People who enjoyed films such as Freaky Friday, because this film is just like that but with dogs instead of mothers.

Beer pairing: (Pete’s specialty) Flying Dog Brewery’s The Truth Imperial IPA

Favorite Architectural Detail: (Pete’s other specialty)
Buddhist Temple Interior

Shaggy DA archi Buddhist Temple

If you had the ability to change into any animal at will, which animal would you choose?

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Pete and Brigette Review Greenberg

Greenberg

Greenberg_poster

Describe it in 25 words or less.

Pete: Post breakdown, Roger Greenberg returns to Los Angeles after years in New York to house sit and attempts to get his life in order.

Brigette: A forty-something year old man returns to his hometown where he must face the past and who he’s become.

Genre:

Pete & Brigette: Drama

Who was your favorite character and why?

Pete: Ivan Schrank because he was the only one that had worked out what was important.

Brigette: Ivan because he was the only person who didn’t seem totally insane.

Who was your least favorite character and why?

Pete: Phillip Greenberg because he was such a jerk with everyone, especially his own brother.

Brigette: Roger Greenberg because he was a complete loser.

How was the casting?

Pete: The casting was great and I thought all actors were brilliant. I think the story was a huge letdown, particularly the ending.

Brigette: The one that surprised me in this film was Ben Stiller. It’s not his usual role and I’m not sure it really suited him.

Did it grab you immediately or did it take a while?

Pete: This film seemed slightly disjointed to me and there were only a couple of scenes that intrigued me and there were a few funny moments. Most of the time it felt uncomfortable and awkward.

Brigette: The opening was so oddly shot that I was immediately intrigued, but the film never went anywhere and the odd shots became tedious.

Favorite quote:

Pete: “Do you hear a train? Is that a train?” – Florence Marr

Brigette: “It’s huge to finally embrace the life you never planned on.” – Ivan

How was the soundtrack?

Pete: Probably one of the few redeeming aspects of the film.

Brigette: It was probably one of the best parts of the film. We’ve put as many songs from the film as we could on Grooveshark.

Have you watched other films by the same director/actor?

Pete: I’ve seen many Ben Stiller films, this is not one of my favorites.

How was the ending?

Pete: One the most empty endings I’ve seen.

Brigette: One of the lamest I’ve ever seen.

What was the moral of the story?

Pete: You only have one chance at life.

Brigette: I don’t think there was a moral so much as it was a cautionary tale of what would happen if everyone said and did everything with no regard for anyone else.

Who would you recommend it to?

Pete: Anyone who has had to return to Los Angeles after living somewhere else for a while.

Brigette: Fans of mumblecore (if you know what that is, you’ll most likely enjoy this film).

Recipe: Arnold Palmer

Beer Pairing: (Pete’s specialty) A Corona Lite or, if you want something fancy, you could try any of the beers from Sanctum Brewing in Pomona, California (if you can get someone to drive you).

Craft/Activity: Build a dog house.

Favorite Architectural Detail: (Pete’s other specialty)
Musso & Frank Grill sign and interior

Greenberg archi Musso+Frank-Grill

Greenberg archi Musso+Frank-Grill interior

What one decision changed your life forever?

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Gable Reviews The Grim Grotto

The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket

Grimgrotto

Write 6 words you would put on this book if it were in the “Blind Date With A Book” shelf. Mushrooms, Ocean, Submarines, Friends, Betrayal, Orphans

Genre: Children’s Action/Mystery

Who was your favorite character and why? Klaus because he always thought about the more important subjects and he never gave up.

Who was your least favorite character and why? Carmelita Spats because she was rude and she was very annoying.

Did it grab you immediately or did it take a while? It left right off of the previous book, whose ending was very intense, so, yes. As soon as you thought it was going to be alright, another event happened that got your heart racing.

What did you think of the ending? It was a happy ending, which is rare for a book from The Series of Unfortunate Events.

What was the moral of the story? The tables can turn at any moment in your life and they could turn to something better or something worse.

Did you learn anything? I learned the meaning of passive.

Favorite quote: “It is one thing to believe that people have both good and bad inside them, mixed together like ingredients in a salad bowl. But it is quite another to look at a cohort of a despicable villain, who has tried again and again to cause so much harm, and try to see where the good parts are buried, when all you can remember is the pain and suffering he has caused.” – Lemony Snicket

Have you read other books in the series? Yes and this is one of the best ones yet. Although, I am hesitant to continue reading the series because there are only two more left and I really like the books. Check out my reviews of the other books in the series here.

Who would you recommend it to? People who enjoyed The Vile Village.

Number of unknown words: 28

Recipe: Clam Chowder

Craft/Activity: Learn to read tidal charts.

Tell us about a friendship that ended in betrayal.

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Brigette Reviews The Longest Way Home

The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest For The Courage To Settle Down by Andrew McCarthy

the-longest-way-home

Describe it in 25 words or less. Andrew McCarthy shares personal insights as he’s traveling.

Any particular reason for choosing this book? I don’t usually read autobiographies, but I’ve always felt a certain affection toward Andrew McCarthy and thought this might be a good one to start with.

Genre: Travel/Autobiography

Who was your favorite part and why? I really enjoyed getting the know the man Andrew McCarthy as opposed to the characters he plays.

Who was your least favorite part and why? Sometimes his internal dialogue hit too close to home, but at the same time it also helped knowing I’m not the only one who feels like that.

Did it grab you immediately or did it take a while? I was instantly intrigued and became emotionally invested in the outcome.

What did you think of the ending? Refreshingly honest.

Did you learn anything? Andrew McCarthy is an excellent travel writer in that he doesn’t bore you to death with facts but instead finds interesting ways of getting you the information you need about the places he’s writing about.

Favorite quote: “It has become impossible for me to relax on a plane. Once carefree in the air, flying has become the receptacle of my anxiety and fear—an obvious desire for an impossible control. The higher the levels of stress in my life, the greater my yearning for such control, thus the greater my discomfort while flying. That I can see all this does nothing to alleviate my irrational response.” – Andrew McCarthy

Soundtrack: I’ve put songs mentioned in the book on Grooveshark and Rdio. And if you’re ever invited to an Irish wedding here are videos of the ceili songs:
The Siege of Ennis
Shoe The Donkey
The Walls Of Limerick

Who would you recommend it to? People who love getting an honest look into someone’s mind.

Number of unknown words: 5

Recipe:
Pisco Sour
Juane

Artwork:

Harris Hawk Painting
(source)

What do you like best about traveling?

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The Family Reviews The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie

301133id1g_LEGO_Final_Rated_27x40_1Sheet.indd

Describe it in 25 words or less.

Pete: An ordinary Lego construction worker unintentionally goes on a quest to prevent Lord Business from carrying out his evil plan.

Brigette: Generic construction worker, Emmet, must become “the special” and save the world.

Morgan: An average Lego man who follows “instructions” goes on an epic adventure to save his town from the evil Lord Business.

Gable: A lonely Lego construction worker finds another Lego on site who takes him on a thrilling quest to save the world of Legos.

Genre:

Pete: Animated/Action/Comedy/Family

Brigette: Animated/Family/Action/Adventure

Morgan: Epic Animation/Family/Comedy

Who was your favorite character and why?

Pete: Emmet Brickowski because he was such a nice guy whom I could easily relate to.

Brigette: Emmet because he was genuine, humble and never lost hope.

Morgan: Emmet because he was funny and kind.

Gable: Emmet because I could relate to him the most and he was also pretty funny.

Who was your least favorite character and why?

Pete: Lord Business because of his evil intent.

Brigette: Lord Business because he was selfishly neurotic.

Morgan: Lord Business because of the simple fact that he was evil and hated change.

Gable: President Business because he wanted to end the world when he could actually help it.

How was the casting?

Pete: Brilliant casting. I especially liked the fact they used Anthony Daniels for the voice of C-3PO. Will Ferrell is also one of my favorite actors.

Did it grab you immediately or did it take a while?

Pete: It grabbed me immediately and has left me with a smile on my face, even days after watching.

Brigette: I have to admit that I went into this film with very low expectations but was quickly convinced that this was one of the best films I’ve seen all year.

Morgan: It grabbed me immediately and all the action, comedy and epic-ness made me entertained the whole way through!

Gable: Before watching it, I thought it was going to be super lame but it actually made it to my top 5 films EVER!

Favorite quote:

Pete: “Great. I think I got it. But just in case… tell me the whole thing again, I wasn’t listening.” – Emmet

Brigette: “I liked Emmet before it was cool.” – Vitruvius

Morgan: “The only thing anyone needs to be special is to believe that you can be. I know that sounds like a cat poster, but it’s true.” – Vitruvius

Gable: “You don’t have to be the bad guy. You are the most talented, most interesting and most extraordinary person in the universe. And you are capable of amazing things because you are “the special”. And so am I and so is everyone.” – Emmet

How was the soundtrack?

Brigette: Awesomely scored by Mark Mothersbaugh which you can listen to here and also check out the Tegan and Sara version of Everything Is Awesome.

Would you watch it again?

Pete: Yes, without hesitation.

Brigette: I would love to watch it again frame by frame so I can really see all the detail.

Morgan: Most definitely! It had a brilliant message and a lot of action.

Gable: When I watched it, I was focusing too heavily on the story. I might just want to re-watch it so I can take in all the Lego creations.

How was the ending?

Pete: Atypical for a good verses evil story and filled me with feelings of joy like no other film I’ve ever watched.

Brigette: Unexpectedly heartwarming. I cried and then sat in hushed awe as the credits rolled.

Morgan: It tugged at my heartstrings. One of the best film endings I’ve seen in a while.

Gable: I actually cried a little bit before the ending so you can tell it was probably awesome.

What was the moral of the story?

Pete: Everyone is special in some way.

Brigette: Everyone has the potential to contribute something awesome to the world.

Morgan: Believe in yourself. Sometimes you have to be different and creative to do something great.

Gable: Everyone has the government’s instructions to follow but you should never be afraid to make up your own instructions or just live your life without any at all.

Who would you recommend it to?

Pete: Absolutely everyone.

Brigette: Everyone!

Morgan: Those who need a good laugh, a good cry or an over-all good film to watch. So basically everyone.

Gable: Everyone and anyone! Especially people who loved the book Leisl & Po.

Won’t Eat Their Cereal Opportunity: Emmet Brickowski Won’t Eat His Cereal

Color Palette: (Morgan’s specialty)

lego movie cp

Recipe: Chicken Wings

Beer pairing: (Pete’s specialty) Spoetzl Brewery’s Shiner Bock

Artwork:

lego movie artwork
(source)

Favorite Architectural Detail: (Pete’s other specialty)
Saloon Interior

lego movie archi detail

Craft/Activity: Celebrate your love of all things Lego with a Lego-inspired party.

What makes you special?

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