Wonderful You Performed by Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys
Target Audience: Preschool – Grade 2
Boston based Vanessa Trien and her band the Jumping Monkeys return with an album that will delight and engage young listeners. Known for an acoustic folk-pop style all her own, Trien crafts songs that tell stories backed by melodies that cross many genres. Beginning with the jazzy title song, “Wonderful You” and continuing on through “All Together Now,” and “Circle of Friends,” this collection of tunes celebrates friends, family and YOU, the listener. Many of the songs, like “Fireworks,” have choruses that are so irresistible, you can’t help but sing along with them. After one stanza, I bet you can’t stop yourself from joining in on Pow pow sizzle sizzle pow pow zoom/Pow pow sizzle sizzle bim bam boom.
There are several songs on this album that would be fun to use in storytime. “Monkey Jump” is perfect for those times when you want the kids to get all the wiggles out. Along those same lines is “Chi Chi Bom Bom” a cumulative tale set to western swing about a child who marches to her own drum. Throughout the song, she counts and she twists and she waits for a bus that is late. Still interactive, but a little quieter is the reggae-style song “Round and Round We Go.” This celebration of the Earth implores listeners to Lift your hands up, make a circle like the sun/Wiggle fingers, shining light on everyone.
Excellent musicianship, smart lyrics and wonderful melodies make this an album that would be a great addition to storytime classes or for family listening.
Lemonade Performed by Justin Roberts
Target Audience: Preschool-Grade School
Justin Roberts’s 13th album for families was released today and it’s another great one. The twelve all new, acoustic songs cover such familiar topics to children as waiting and waiting to be the right height to ride all the rides at the amusement park, being willing to do anything to get out of playing dodgeball, and the simple joy of taking time out from the day to roll down a hill. The title song “Lemonade” as well as “Me and My Kangaroo” and “This is How We Bring in the Sun” invite listeners to sing along with catchy choruses and delightful melodies. Students will love “Valentine (I don’t wanna be yours)” a tale of kids being made to go through the ritual of handing out valentines even though I don’t wanna be yours/And you don’t wanna be mine. The song “Eight-Legged Octopus” about an octopus who is kept as a pet, but is ultimately returned to the deep blue sea will draw children in and have them counting along with the chorus. This song could easily be adapted into a flannel board to use during storytime. Roberts’s view of the world through a child’s eyes combines with a creative mix of instruments from cardboard boxes and paint cans to cello and ukulele in order to create a collection of songs that children will instantly identify with. Several of the songs could be used in programs where participants are dancing or using musical instruments. The subject matter and top-notch musicianship will make this an album that children AND parents won’t mind listening to again and again.
Sing-a-Long History, Vol. 2: The Rocket Went Up! performed by The Deedle Deedle Dees
Target Audience: Grades 3 and Up
Returning with their first album in five years, the Deedle Deedle Dees created another great collection of songs that are not only fun to listen to, but also teach something along the way. The 16 original songs in this collection span a variety of musical genres while celebrating real-life heroes. These heroes include Houdini, Ada Lovelace – the world’s first computer programmer, and swimmer Diana Nyad, as well as Charles Darwin and the early human, Lucy. Joining in on the fun is an ode to 3.14 in “Pi,” a fun sing-a-long honoring female astronauts in “The Rocket Went Up!,” and a rap battle for the ages in “Tesla v. Edison.” The songs on this album could easily be used as conversation starters, writing prompts or an introduction to the subject matters.
Ranger Rick’s Trail Mix Vol.1 Performed by The Whizpops!
Target Audience: Grades K to 5
While the focus of The Deedle Deedle Dees album is real-life heroes, The Whizpops! concentrate on songs filled with facts about some of the endangered wildlife of North America. Known for their science based music, The Whizpops! put their songwriting skills to work on 11 original songs that highlight animals such as the California condor, bison, the bull trout and the polar bear. Each song tells the story of a different animal, such as “Everything’s Better with a Mustache (Walrus Song),” with clever lyrics that weave facts about the animal’s habitat, life cycle and eating habits in in a way that feels like fun exploration. Adding to the revelry are several musical genres including a Bee Gee’s vibe on “Black Footed Ferret” and the reggae sounds detailing the life cycle of the “Monarch.” While this album is chock-full of facts and doesn’t shy from using words like carrion, metamorphosis and chrysalis, it never feels the least bit didactic. This collection would be a lively, informative addition to classroom units about animals.
Superhero Performed by The Laurie Berkner Band
Target Audience: Ages 1 to 7
It has been eight years since Laurie Berkner released an album of all new music, but it was certainly worth the wait. Superhero is packed with 21 brand new songs that will delight and engage young listeners. The overarching theme of self-empowerment is evident in tunes like the title song, “Superhero” and “I’ve Got So Much To Give” while emphasis on using your imagination is featured in “Bubbles” and “Tea Party.” Special guests, Ziggy Marley, Brady Rymer, and Kira Willey add to the fun.
Not only is the album filled with great themes, but it’s also filled with music that would be great for storytimes. The song “1-2 Hands” which counts eyes, toes, fingers, etc. and “Face to Face” would work well in toddler storytimes where children and their parent/caregiver can interact. For preschool storytimes and above, “Bicycle” can get kids moving (if you’re not keen on kids running, have them act out the speed of the song with arm movements) as does “This Is How I Do It” which encourages jumping, shaking hands, shaking knees and dancing. Simple lyrics also make this a great sing along. If you host a music program or smaller class, the song “The Music in Me” could easily be adapted and used as a welcome song. With so many uses, this a must have for staff. Make sure the parents have access to it too, because once the kids hear it, they’ll be clamoring for more!
Take a look at the video for the title track, “Superhero.”
Here are a few albums that will be out in the next couple of weeks.
Sing-A-Long History, Vol. 2 performed by The Deedle Deedle Dees
Feel What U Feel performed by Lisa Loeb
Lemonade performed by Justin Roberts
Wonderful YOU performed by Vanessa Trien & the Jumping Monkeys
Live in Colour performed by Marlowe & the MiX
Congrats to 123 Andrés whose second Spanish/English album for little language learners was just nominated for a Latin GRAMMY in the Best Latin Children’s Album category! Arriba Abajo is filled with ten songs (first performed in Spanish, then in English) plus a bonus track that kids will enjoy.
Take a look at this adorable video for “Dame una A” from the album.
Every Day’s Your Birthday! Performed by Miss Nina & The Jumping Jacks
Target Audience: PreS-Gr K
Nina Stone, or Miss Nina as the younger set knows her, returns with her third album for children and first album where she is backed by her band The Jumping Jacks. Stone is a trained dancer and music educator whose passion it is to provide kids and their families the opportunity to enjoy music and dance together and that is evident throughout this twelve song collection. With pop songs like the title track “Every Day’s Your Birthday” which invites lots of interaction and movement by listeners, “My Freeze Dance,” “Up & Down” and “(Silly) Wheels on the Bus” which contains traditional lyrics as well as the addition of soldiers, kangaroos, spaghetti and a dance party on the bus, this album will be a HUGE hit at storytimes or early childhood music classes. Also included, just in time for those October programs, is a jazzy version of “Five Little Pumpkins.” Additional musical genres set to kid friendly lyrics include the country vibe of “Let’s Go Home” as well as the hip hop tune “DJ in my PJs.” Librarians and teachers will love sharing this album with their youngsters. For more on Miss Nina and to see her weekly video show, visit her YouTube page.
Justin Roberts Greatest Hits performed by…Justin Roberts
Target Audience: PreS-Gr 3
Two time GRAMMY nominee, Justin Roberts, has been thrilling young audiences for almost two decades. With each album, he’s refined his power pop sound while crafting songs that are both silly yet relatable to young listeners. Whether it’s the child playing baseball who easily gets distracted by all the other things around him in “Pop Fly” or the children in the classroom who are eagerly awaiting that moment when the bell rings for “Recess,” Roberts perfectly captures the way young minds work. Listeners who have younger brothers or sisters will appreciate songs such as “Meltdown” where an older sibling “innocently” borrows the younger brother’s favorite crayon while others may enjoy a sibling puzzling over a younger brother who is “Obsessed by Trucks.” With Halloween quickly approaching, children will also enjoy the building excitement in “Trick or Treat.” If you’re not familiar with Justin Roberts, this album is a great introduction. If you are familiar, but can’t afford the eight albums these 16 original songs come from, this is the perfect way to add him to your collection.
Wake Up & Sing Performed by Red Yarn
Target Audience: PreS-Gr 5
On his third album, Red Yarn proves once again what great music for children and families is coming out of the Pacific Northwest. For this outing Red Yarn, or as he’s commonly known, Andy Furgeson, brings the excitement of his stage show to one of his albums. Most of the songs in this collection are infused with an energy that is driven by Furgeson’s skillful way with the guitar and banjo. With a deft hand, Furgeson takes traditional songs such as “Fourth Day of July,” and “Molly Cottontail” and adds a big dose of his own brand of folk-rock.
The album opens a little quietly with an original song, “Beautiful Day,” but quickly kicks into high gear with a cover of Woody Guthrie’s “Wake Up.” This is followed by several songs that would work well in storytime including, “If I had a Rooster” which kids will enjoy singing along with, “Clap Your Hands Together” which will get children moving and “Hop Little Squirrel” which will definitely help to get the energy out. Part of the beauty of Red Yarn’s music is the way that he takes songs that were often played for children using basic rhythms and crafts more complex melodies that challenge the young ear while still remaining accessible. It’s this fact that makes this album a great addition to any collection.
Take a listen to some of the songs mentioned above:
Check out some of Red Yarn’s puppet friends in his video for “If I Had a Rooster.”
Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León to the New York Island performed by Sonia De Los Santos
Audience: All Ages
Sonia De Los Santos, who was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, does a wonderful job of taking listeners on a tour of Spanish speaking countries in this, her first solo album for families. This collection of twelve songs includes music from Mexico, Spain, the Dominican Republic, Argentina and even a Venezuelan song derived from a Puerto Rican poem. De Los Santos opens the album with the Woody Guthrie classic “This Land is Your Land,” which she skillfully translated into Spanish and performs as “Esta Es Tu Tierra.” Dan Zanes and Friends join her on the original “Tan Feliz” as well as a translated version of Pete Seeger and Lee Hays’s “If I Had a Hammer,” here named “El Martillo.” Also included are songs such as the traditional Mexican rhyme, “Chocolate,” which would be perfect for storytime, “La Golondrinas” a lively original tune about animals that are sometimes referred to as immigrant birds, and a tribute to De Los Santos’s beautiful hometown, “Monterrey.” Sonia De Los Santos is joined by a host of talented musicians from around the world who accompany her on instruments such as the jarana, guitar, violin, maracas and bongos. While all of the songs are sung in Spanish, listeners do not have to speak Spanish to enjoy them. Beautifully illustrated liner notes contain the lyrics as well as a note in English from De Los Santos giving some background to each song. Any of these songs could easily be incorporated into programs or lesson plans about music, dance, families or other cultures. A must have from the newest performer on the children’s Spanish language music scene.