Thursday, November 21, 2019

Moove to the Moozika!

Moove to the Moozika. Performed by Jesse Goldman. CD. Approx. 30 min. Ruminator Records. 2018. CD or digital: $14.99.
Pre-S—Grade 3

            Goldman’s album is based on the music he uses in his successful music classes for children in Brooklyn. Goldman does a good job performing on all the instruments himself: guitars, bass, piano, organ, synths, trombone, trumpet, accordion, drums, marimba, tambourine, shakers, triangle, cow bell, clave bells, sax, whistle, and harmonica. Goldman and several children perform in several musical styles, including pop, jazz, electronic dance music, folk, samba, blues, ranchera, Latin, and rock. “Moove to the Moozika,” in English and Spanish encourages children to move—stomping, shaking, and moving to the beat. The “Moose on the Loose” chases all the children who run far away. Listeners learn to count to four in Spanish with “Uno, Dos, Tres, Cuatro.” The “Supa Dupa Soup” has onions, carrots, celery, and perhaps dirty socks and salamanders. “Wiggle Waggin’” teaches listeners some animal sounds. “Wave Your Scarf” encourages participatory movement. Listeners might want to ride a “Burro,” a caballo and a toro while learning some Spanish. The lullaby “Sleep My Baby,” instead of being at the end of the album is in the middle of it, a somewhat unusual placement. The “Brooklyn Baby” goes to the zoo, plays in Prospect Park, rolls across the Brooklyn Bridge, and goes to Coney Island. “Limpia” is a cute cleaning up song. The “Roly-Poly Train” rolls through the mountains and plains, spins its wheels and blows its whistle. “Hasta Luego” ends the album with a bilingual farewell. Goldman’s goal is for families to come up with their own variations of the melodies, or even create new music inspired by this album.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Cheerful Little Earful

A Cheerful Little Earful. Performed by Diana Panton. CD. Approx. 54 min. Little Things. 2019. CD: $12.99; Digital: $9.99.
Grades 1 and up

Two-time Juno Award winner Diana Panton’s lovely, clear voice expertly handles these 15 songs in various styles of jazz. Panton’s clear enunciation makes it easy to understand the lyrics. Well-known jazz musicians Reg Schwager and Don Thompson provide outstanding background music on guitar, bass, piano, and vibraphone. The tracks are covers of pop tunes and songs from various musicals. The playlist includes “Happy Talk” from Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific; “It’s a Most Unusual Day” from A Date with Judy; “’A’ You’re Adorable,” a pop song from 1948; “Red Red Robin” popularized by Lillian Roth in 1926; “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon,” a popular song from Sesame Street; “Cheerful Little Earful” from Ira Gershwin’s Sweet and Low; “If You Feel Like Singing, Sing” from Summer Stock with Judy Garland; “Music and Me,” a  1973 song popularized by Michael Jackson; “Pocketful of Miracles,” the title song from the 1961 movie Pocketful of Miracles; “Look to the Rainbow” from Finian’s Rainbow; “All in the Golden Afternoon” from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, adeptly sung by Panton in French & English; “Experiment” from Cole Porter’s Nymph Errant; “Aren’t You Glad You’re You,” a song from the 1945 film The Bells of St. Mary’s; “Sing a Rainbow” from the 1955 film Pete Kelly’s Blues; “Hush-a-bye Island,” a 1946 song popularized by Frank Sinatra. This album has already received a Family Choice Award and NAPPA award. These Canadian artists have created a wonderful album for the whole family to enjoy together.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Best Friends

Best Friends. Performed by Various artists. CD. Approx. 30 min. Kid Pan Alley Records. 2019. $14.98.
K – Grade 5

            Founder of award-winning Kid Pan Alley, Paul Reisler, celebrates its 20th anniversary with this excellent 5th album, which includes 12 songs performed by special guests Heather Mae, The Not-Its, Vance Gilbert, Steve Paltz. Lisa Loeb, John McCutcheon, Lea Morris, Bill Harley, Robbie Schaefer, Randy Kaplan, Silly Bus and Sonia De Los Santos. Each lively song was co-written by elementary school students and KPA songwriters. The backup musicians give excellent performances on guitar, bass, keyboards, ukulele, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, drums, percussion, and bells in jazz, rock, pop, folk, and Latin salsa musical styles. “Life Is Good” because we have music. When “School’s Out” in the summertime, it’s time to scream and shout, go to movies, and be with friends. “Best Friends” are always by your side, stand the test of time, and cheer you up. One child wants to “Quit This Job” (meaning school) and get a job in New York instead. “I’ve Got an Apple Pie in My Book Bag” which tastes better than homework. “A Happy, Happy Birthday Song” celebrates the best day this child has ever known. “I Forgot to Charge My Phone Today” so I’ll go outside and play if I remember how. One child has a “Sister for Sale” and he’ll sell her in a second if he knew they wouldn’t put him in jail. “My Shadow Leads a Double Life” --by day it stays close by my side, but I wonder where it goes at night. Randy Kaplan discusses with children why “Santa’s on Vacation,” for example, after Christmas, Santa needs to take a break and work on his tan. “Who Decided” to put “a” before “b,” that pigs can’t fly, that wheels are round, and other observations. “La Vida Es Bella” reprises the first song in Spanish. This album is a great example of creative teamwork between children and adults.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

I Like the Me I See!

I Like the Me I See by Jessica “Culture Queen” Hebron; illustrated by Solomia Kovalchuk. 30 p. Culture Kingdom Kids Publishing. 2019. HC: $20; PB: $15. ISBN: 978-0-578-44420-8.
Ages 3 – 8

Colorful, with appealing illustrations, this book was inspired by a song from her 2016 pop music album, both with the same name as the book. Featuring the lyrics of the song, the book encourages accepting oneself—liking one’s own hair, eyes, nose, lips, skin, tummy, knees, and feet. The illustrations depict Culture Queen admiring the aforementioned parts of her body, sometimes in a pretty framed mirror. Several children appear throughout the book, mostly African American. The artist depicts all the people realistically, with big smiles on most faces. This is a great book for helping children accept themselves and for raising their self-esteem.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Waiting for the Elevator

Waiting for the Elevator. Performed by Laurie Berkner Band. CD. Approx. 47 min. Two Tomatoes Records. 2019. CD: $11.98; Digital: $9.99.
Pre-S – Gr 2

Toe-tapping, catchy pop tunes are the hallmark of this 13th album from the Laurie Berkner Band. Performing 19 fun, educational, and quirky songs are band members Laurie Berkner, Susie Lampert, Brady Rymer, and Bob Golden. They give excellent performances on guitar, bass, keyboards, saxophone, trumpet, drums, and percussion. The vocals soar with great harmonies, including guest singer, Tony-award winnnig Gavin Creel. The theme of the album is growth; for example, learning about feelings, movement, letters, numbers, colors, months, games and relationships. Berkner has been likened to Fred Rogers for her respect, validation and reassurance of children. “Waiting for the Elevator” is a counting song with cardinal and ordinal numbers. Ten dimes make “A Dollar,” and other combinations of coins, such as five nickels in a quarter. “Did You Go to Ohio,” Florida, Washington, and Arkansas to sing, spin, swing, and hop? With a fun new melody, “Look at All the Letters” introduces the alphabet. The a cappella introduction to the “12 Months,” features stomps and hand claps a la Queen’s We Will Rock You. Berkner harmonizes beautifully with Gavin Creel on “Do You Hear the Bells,” in which one bell tolls for one o’clock, two bells for two o’clock, etc. The narrator stops at a gas station, where she sees a “Chipmunk at the Gas Pump.” A child welcoming his parents home tells them, “I Missed You.” The narrator explains “I Know How That Works,” in describing a vacuum (push and pull), a rocking chair (back and forth), and a kitchen light (on and off). A child exclaims, “I Love You Daddy,” as he is picked up and spun around. “A Hug from My Mama,” or a kiss, makes a child feel all right when everything is wrong. “The Big Blue Box” starts out a cappella, but then adds musical accompaniment as instruments are removed from it: guitar, bass, piano and drum. The other songs include “Piggyback Ride,” “A Mermaid’s Song,” “Come Out Come Out,” “I Am Angry (Yes I Am!),” “Purple Bricks in the Sky,” “The Mountain,” and “Somos Los Dinosaurios,” the Spanish version of Berkner’s hit “We Are the Dinosaurs.” This wonderful album teaches young listeners some important concepts in a fun and engaging way, as well as including some silly and quirky songs.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Kith and Kin

Kith and Kin. Performed by Duke Otherwise. CD. Approx. 40 min. Duke Otherwise. 2019. CD: $15.00; Digital: $10.00.
Pre-S—Gr 3

Duke, in his deep baritone, presents 14 amusing and funny-bone tickling original folk-style songs, with musical influences from Mexico, Peru, Cuba, the Mediterranean, South Africa, the Middle East, and Switzerland. Excellent instrumentalists back up these quirky and imaginative songs with several types of guitar, bass, upright bass, banjo, violin, cello, harp, piano, organ, synth, drums, congas, floor tom, doumbek, tambourine, shaker, washboard tie, melodica, spoons, castanets, glockenspiel, cymbal, kazoo, didgeridoo, and cowbell. Three songs also include goat, pig, and rooster sounds. “Everybody Spins” invites listeners to spin around one way, then the other. A child is “So Full” that he can’t eat his peas, but he has room for dessert. In this class, everyone has the wrong name, because “Joy’s a Grump,” Rich is poor, Buddy has no friends, and several more mis-named students. Yodeling is a rare occurrence in children’s music albums, but “Yodeling Lament” features a poor yodeler attempting to learn from a yodeling virtuoso. On his abacus “Atticus” adds the kisses he gets. The narrator has never met anyone who “Eats Like You.” In third grade, a student has an “Elementary Crush” on his teacher. Not only is there a “Lion in My Room,” but also a chicken, wolf, and hippo. The “Slow Monster” is unable to catch any children. Up before dawn, “Gavin” has already done his chores while the rooster is still snoring. Although “Zane” can play exotic instruments such as kalimba, lute, and didgeridoo, he cannot play the radio. We’re the “Twins” who agree about everything/nothing and other opposite pairs. Duke introduces listeners to the “Golden Wheel Spider” of the Namib desert in Southern Africa. While all his friends have to travel to their homes, this snail is “Always Home.” This fun and musically diverse album will be a treat for young listeners and their parents.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Ditto Kiddo

Ditto Kiddo. Performed by Stephen Michael Schwartz. CD. Approx. 29 min. S-Team Productions. 2019. CD: $12.98; Digital: $9.99.
Pre-S—Gr 2

            Multi-award winning Stephen Michael Schwartz performs nine energetic and toe-tapping original songs on his fourth solo album, in pop, bluegrass, rock, polka, and Hawaiian folk. As a former member of the trio “Parachute Express,” he has toured China on behalf of the Gymboree International Play & Music Program; and as a result, was also invited to give solo performances in that country. The backup instrumentalists give outstanding performances on guitar, slack key guitar, bass, ukulele, violin, banjo, keyboards, tuba, harmonica, drums and percussion. Just one taste of “Alphabet Soup” puts a smile on my face. A “Bubble Gum Friend” will stick with you to the end. Being with “Grandma and Grandpa” is like a vacation. Shine for those who’ve lost their glow because “That’s What Love Can Do.” You’re happy everywhere you go; “Ditto Kiddo,” that’s the way I’m feeling, too. She’s from the land where they say, “No, No, No, No, No.”  A little angel with “Little Fingers, Tiny Toes” brings magic to the simplest things. A child learns to play “Hopscotch” at school. “Hello Gymbo” (the mascot of the Gymboree Play & Music Program), it’s a beautiful day. Young listeners will love dancing and singing along with these catchy tunes.