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.
Mark your calendars and place your orders! Here are a few of the new releases for September.
You’ve Got Me performed by Sara Lovell
Superhero performed by Laurie Berkner Band
Dream Too Much performed by Amy Lee
Ear Snacks: Songs from the Podcast by Andrew & Polly
Novelties performed by Recess Monkey
Target Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 4
Recess Monkey is back! The trio from Seattle, whose sound is often compared to that of the Beatles, returns with Novelties, an album filled with 14 brand new, original songs. With their quirky style and fun sense of image building, Drew Holloway, Jack Forman, and Korum Bischoff, draw listeners into fun songs about things like the mustaches of the world being set free, a wind up robot, a love struck unicorn who has just caught sight of a Narwhal, and a “Sweaty Yeti” who was seen running in the forest. Mixed-in with the silliness are topics that children can easily relate to such as the simple joy of a piggyback and creating a band by playing music on pots and pans. Their unique blend of rock and pop styles from across the decades gives their clever lyrics a liveliness that is impossible to resist. Kids will enjoy the song “Show and Tell” whose chorus asks, “Hey now what will you bring/You can choose anything” and finds the students bringing bigger and splashier things to school as the week goes on, while in “Snowball,” when a boy’s older brother nails him with a snowball during the winter, the younger sibling hides it in the freezer and warns, “When summer comes along I’ve saved a little something for you.” It may take more than one time listening to the album to get the full gist of the lyrics, but when the children do, their eyes will light up with the full understanding of the songs. Recess Monkey does provide all of the lyrics to their songs on their website in case you want to read along while you take a listen. They also have their own YouTube channel where you can watch videos of some of their older music as well as videos for some of their new songs like the ode to that most delicious deep fried treat in “Time to Make the Donuts.” While this album wouldn’t work well in a storytime or classroom setting, it is perfect for family listening.
Forest Friends’ Nature Club Album performed by Ginalina
Target Audience: Preschool to Grade 3
My favorite time of the year to take long walks in the great outdoors is in the fall, when there is just the beginning of a crispness to the air and the leaves are changing colors and drifting to the ground. It’s during September and October when those hurried footsteps of summer begin to slow down that I take a deep breath and really enjoy all that is around me. Tonight, I realized as dusk began descending so much earlier than I thought it should, that autumn is really not that far away. And it was then that I remembered this lovely CD that first came to my attention in the spring.
Canada-based singer/songwriter Ginalina perfectly captures the gentle, awesome wonders of nature in Forest Friends’ Nature Club Album, her second album for children. A couple of years ago Ginalina, along with her three young children, spent weekly adventures in the forests of British Columbia’s Pacific Spirit Regional Park. It was these walks in the woods that became the inspiration for the 15 original songs in this collection. Ginalina’s beautiful soprano blends perfectly with among other instruments, banjo, violin, guitar and in one case kazoo, on these folk/pop/country infused tunes. Included on the album are two French language songs. “La Vie est Belle” which has such a catchy melody that even listeners who don’t know any French will find themselves singing along and “Play…Jouer,” a bilingual echo song that children will enjoy participating in. Songs about friendship and love (of one another and blueberry pancakes) are in this collection as well.
There are also several fact-filled songs that are so well written that children won’t realize how much they are learning. “Rainbow” teaches listeners about the colors and science that make a rainbow, while “Honey; We Love You” is a great ode to the honey bee. In addition, “Shapes are Everywhere” is filled with beautiful harmonies that describe all the shapes that can be found in nature. The delightful video below could easily be used in storytime, in the classroom, or before a family walk as an introduction to this concept.
In this world where everyone, no matter how young, is always plugged in, Forest Friends’ Nature Club Album is the perfect reminder to take time, relax, and enjoy the amazing beauty that is all around you.