Chicago-based Little Miss Ann and Amy D (or Ann Torralba and Amyliza de Jesus as they are known in their daily lives) have teamed up on their first album together and I, for one, certainly hope that it isn’t their last. Keep On is a great combination of new songs and old, many of which are perfect for storytime. Songs such as “Ube” about a purple yam and “L.O.V.E.” will get little ones singing and dancing the wiggles out while “Shake and Sing” would work as an energetic clapping/shaker song and “Hill and Gully Rider,” which features 123 Andres on clarinet, is a really fun tune to get storytime participants moving and interacting with one another. In addition, the delightful “The Senses Song” assigns a letter to each sense along with things that start with that letter. Hear is the letter “M” and some of the things listed that may be heard are music and mama’s voice. Taste is the letter “H” which includes hot chocolate and horchata, See the letter “B” for butterflies and bumblebees, Smell is the letter “L” for lemons and lychee, and Touch and Feel the letter “G” for green grass. This song could easily be used with the flannel board where each item is added to the board as it is mentioned in the song.
Other songs included on this album are a cover of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” a pretty straight forward version of “Where is Thumbkin?” and the original tune, “The 606” which Chicagoans will recognize as an ode to an innovative area in Chicago which connects four neighborhoods and incorporates the arts, bike and trail paths, and event spaces.
Little Miss Ann and Amy D have a wonderful sound with voices that blend beautifully and much of the instrumentation is provided by power producer Dean Jones. Each song stands on its own and with so many that would work for storytime, this is a must have for anyone who presents programs for little ones, or just spends a lot of time with them.
Nature and all of the wonders of the great outdoors have always been a keystone of the music that The Okee Dokee Brothers make, and today’s debut of the single “Countin’ On Me” was no different. As part of their ongoing partnership with the Minnesota Zoo, the musical duo has written a gorgeous song about conservation. Evoking images of the grasses on the prairie, bison herds, flowers and critters in the forest, The Okee Dokee Brothers combine beautiful instrumentation and subtle animal sounds with lovely lyrics like the chorus, “They might seem small, but when you look at them all, their message is bigger than it’s ever been, we gotta build this home again” to create a song that you will want to listen to again and again. Available on iTunes, all the proceeds from the song’s sales will go to the Minnesota Zoo’s conservation efforts. A beautiful song for a beautiful cause.
What a great month March is turning out to be for the release of picture books by the fantastic folks in children’s music. On March 7, we said hello to Thousand Star Hotel by the GRAMMY winning duo The Okee Dokee Brothers. This retelling of “The Fisherman and His Wife” illustrated by Brandon Reese features Mr. and Mrs. Muskrat who live near a big river. An accompanying CD includes the audiobook for the story as well as 11 songs performed by The Okee Dokee Brothers.
Also making a splash on March 7 was Dive In! by 2017 GRAMMY nominee Recess Monkey. Illustrated by Rob McClurkan, this interactive undersea adventure will delight young ones as they participate in the escapades of Burt the Blobfish and Sir Sebastian Stockingbottomham.
Mark your calendars! March 21 is the date for the release of the amazing Laurie Berkner’s new book, We Are the Dinosaurs. This combination of the lyrics from Laurie’s hit song “We Are the Dinosaurs” and adorable illustrations by Ben Clanton is sure to be a hit!
And in a #FBF Flashback Friday, I’d like to highlight Zar and the Broken Spaceship by children’s music extraordinaire, Dino O’Dell and illustrated by Santiago Germano. This is the story of three friends who meet the alien Zar, learn a lot about team work as they help him fix his spaceship and make a new friend along the way. One of the librarians who works with me has been using this book in her preschool visits this winter. The fun, interactive aspects of the story have made it such a hit with the preschoolers that it quickly became the finale of each storytime.
Do you have a favorite picture book by children’s musical artists that you like to use for storytime or in the classroom?