Hello 2017! Let’s Live in Colour

When looking through my social media feeds, it looked like the last week or so of December was spent bemoaning how horrible 2016 was as we continued to deal with the results of the presidential election, what felt like the almost daily deaths of our childhood/teen icons and the normal stresses of the holiday season. I admit that I often found myself quickly empathizing during both in-person and online conversations with this feeling of good riddance to a year that couldn’t end soon enough. But was what I was feeling a true reflection of the year I had just had? All it took was a couple of hours of organizing pictures for my yearly scrapbook to realize that I was wrong. I had actually had a really amazing year during which I was fortunate enough to do many really fun, fantastic things with friends and family that I love.

And that’s what I need to remember as I welcome in 2017. That just as there will be times of sadness, stress and upset, there will also be times of happiness, love and joy. At the beginning of December, I was sent an email with the links to a couple of children’s music videos from Canadian artist, Marlowe & the Mix. I didn’t have time to watch them until this afternoon, but I think I’m going to carry one of the songs, the title track from their newest album, with me as a resolution for the new year. In 2017, rather than wrapping myself in those times of gray, I’m going to try and do as this song says and, “Live in Colour.” I think those are wise words to live by, no matter your age, don’t you?

Some Holiday Fun with Laurie Berkner

Looking for some kid friendly holiday songs to share during your family gatherings? Try this compilation of four of Laurie’s videos that are perfect for the holidays- “Candy Cane Jane,” “This Little Light of Mine,” “Jingle Bells” and the Laurie and Brady Rymer duet, “Children Go Where I Send Thee.” Do you have any favorite children’s holiday songs?

Wake Up It’s Christmas Time – Sara Lovell

On Saturday, Sara Lovell debuted this video for her new holiday song, “Wake Up It’s Christmas Time.” If you’re looking for a new tune to share with your kids that seamlessly talks about the excitement of Santa’s arrival as well as the importance of listening to the stories of those who might believe in holidays different than yours, then this song is for you. I love the lyrics toward the end, “And if you family celebrates another holiday, tell me all about it, I’ll come over when you call, We’ll sing the songs you sing and I’ll listen when you tell me what matters to you most of all.”  Enjoy this catchy, beautiful song of the season!

GRAMMY Award Nominations Announced

The 59th GRAMMY Award nominees were announced today and, as always, they are fantastic. The Best Children’s Album category is filled with amazing artists, each with a unique sound. If you don’t own them, pick them up today. They all deserve a spot in every library collection.

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Frances England, Explorer of the World

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Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Infinity Plus One

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Recess Monkey, Novelties

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Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could, Press Play

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The Okee Dokee Brothers, Saddle Up

School Library Journal’s Top 10 Music of 2016

School Library Journal released its list of the Top 10 children’s albums of 2016. Compiled by the SLJ music reviewers, all of these albums are great additions to every collection. Did your favorites make the list?

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Feel What U Feel by Lisa Loeb

In the past few weeks, there has been much written about how to talk about tolerance, kindness, and acceptance with children. Most of what has been written has focused on using books to address these topics. I’d like to offer up the importance of using music as well.

Looking back through the children’s albums that have been released this year, one of the welcome trends is the increased emphasis on not only accepting one another for each other’s differences but also being proud and confident in ourselves and those qualities that make each of us unique. The songs have ranged from silly to serious but all speak to children in a way that they can embrace and understand.

lisa-loeb-11-16One of the most recent albums that focuses on kindness and acceptance is the newest release from Lisa Loeb, Feel What U Feel. Chock full of beautiful messages that are wrapped in gentle hugs or disguised in upbeat melodies and lyrics, this album is fantastic from beginning to end. The opening song, “Moon Star Pie (It’s Gonna Be All Right,” sets the tone and leads into “Say Hello” a lovely song about how the simple act of being brave and saying hello, or goodbye, or excuse me can be a great show of kindness. From there listeners fall into the groovin’ title track, “Feel What U Feel,” a duet between Loeb and Craig Robinson (from The Office) that lets children know that all those emotions inside them, both good and not so good, are ok. The catchy chorus, “Guess what? It’s okay!/go on and feel what u feel today/Feel what u feel/what u feel what u feel/what u feel what u feel,” will keep the message fresh in listeners minds. Robinson returns with another positive message regarding emotions on the classic tune, “It’s All Right to Cry,” which first appeared on Free to Be You and Me (1972). There are many other great songs on this album, all of which can be shared in a storytime, classroom, or family setting.

With so much music to choose from, I’d love to hear from you. What are some of your favorite songs about kindness, acceptance, emotions, etc. to share with children?

It’s a Doo Da Day!

doodadaywebLast week we had the great privilege of hosting Wendy & DB at our library. Back in August I reviewed their album It’s a Doo Da Day for School Library Journal. The album had great empowering messages about being yourself and owning your feelings while at the same time being a lot of fun. At the time, I thought it would be a perfect album for family or classroom listening  but didn’t clearly see how to use it in storytime. Then, I saw Wendy & DB perform.

 

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Wow! That’s all I can say. Just wow! Their 45-minute performance was filled with such energy and excitement. Every song had an interactive component, most of which had the kids up and moving. The title track, “It’s a Doo Da Day” has a catchy chorus and wraps around the classic children’s tune, “You Are My Sunshine” making it the perfect way to start the show. Once everyone was warmed up, it was full speed ahead with rocking songs like “I Love My Body” and “Pink Flamingo,” where each child was given a pink sock to use as a flamingo, then invited to act out all of the things that the flamingo does in the song. Things slowed down in the gentle “It’s Ok Being You,” which teaches children that if they are feeling blue or green or red, it’s ok. As each verse introduced a new color, the children were given scarves that color to dance with, creating a delightful rainbow of movement.

All of the songs on It’s a Doo Da Day are a joy to listen to. Wendy & DB are working on their next album, and I for one, can’t wait. Get more information about the duo, as well as listen to a couple of the songs off their album here.

A Veteran’s Day Salute

I’m the great-niece of men who served in WWII and Korea. The daughter and daughter-in-law of men who served in Vietnam. I’m the cousin to several who served around the world. I’m the co-worker to those who’ve had loved ones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait. I hold so much respect and admiration for our veterans and their families. I will never know or fully understand all that they go through so the least I can do is honor them. Which brings me to today, Veteran’s Day.  Today, I’m happy to be able to salute a veteran who has taken a rough return to civilian life and healed through the unexpected power of creating children’s music.

Derek McGee, one of the founders of the band Funkinships, served two tours in Iraq. After that much time living a high tension way of life, returning back home proved to be difficult. So Derek quit his Wall Street job and took a job that allowed him to live and work aboard the Mystic Whaler on the Hudson River, where he taught environmental education to children. It was during his time on the Mystic Whaler that he met musician Charlie Chamberlain and Funkinships was born.

funkinshipsAlong with a band of merry music makers, they created their first album, Post Folk Absurdist. This album is filled with fun, wacky, weird songs that will tickle careful listeners. The genres of music switch back and forth and blend throughout the songs, preventing the overall sound from being defined. At first listen, the songs may feel disconnected because of the lack of melodic cohesiveness, but it is in the lyrics where the glue of the album becomes evident. It’s in those words that children will learn that it’s ok if you’re a little weird or different, and who cares what others think. The song titles alone, like “The Platypus and Steve Buscemi,” “Chicken Flap Fly” and “Nightmare on the Kids Menu” will draw children and adults in to find out, “what’s that all about?”

McGee has said of his introduction to creating music, “I had finally stumbled upon the thing missing from my life.  I realized that much of the restlessness and angst I felt after returning home from war was a result of being a man without a band.”  Well, Derek, I’m glad you found that band. Thank you for your service and for making music that kids will find comfort and joy in. 

Fids & Kamily 2016 Music Awards

It’s that time of year again. Time for the Best of… lists to start appearing. First up in the land of children’s music is the 11th annual Fids & Kamily Music Awards. Voted on by folks familiar with the fantastic offerings from the children’s music industry, this list of the Top 10 albums of 2016 is a list of “must haves” for every collection. Don’t forget to take a look at the Honorable mentions, they are great ones to have as well. Keep an eye out next month for School Library Journal‘s 10 Best Children’s Albums of the year. Are there any albums you wished had made the list?

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