Upcoming Releases

Here are a few albums that will be out in the next couple of weeks.

September 29

Sing-A-Long History, Vol. 2 performed by The Deedle Deedle Dees

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October 7

Feel What U Feel performed by Lisa Loeb

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October 14

Lemonade performed by Justin Roberts

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Wonderful YOU performed by Vanessa Trien & the Jumping Monkeys

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October 21

Live in Colour performed by Marlowe & the MiX

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Justin Roberts Greatest Hits

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.

Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León to the New York Island

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.

Forest Friends’ Nature Club Album

Forest Friends’ Nature Club Album performed by Ginalina
Target Audience: Preschool to Grade 3

ginalina2My 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.

 

A Little Something for Everyone

With school starting in many areas this week, I thought I would highlight a couple of albums that have come out within the past year – one for the preschool set and one for those in grade school.

lisaloebOne of my absolute favorite albuims for preschool teachers and parents is Lisa Loeb’s latest, Nursery Rhyme Parade! As stated in the Public Library Association (PLA) and Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) initiative Every Child Ready to Read, beginning at birth, singing is one of the key activities for parents and caregivers to do with children everyday to help develop early literacy skills. What better way to do that than with nursery rhymes? For the last few years we have noticed that more and more of the parents coming to our storytimes and early childhood programs have no knowledge of nursery rhymes, which is why Lisa’s album is so important. In this collection, 35 nursery rhymes are treated to Loeb’s beautiful, clear voice. Backed only by soothing acoustic accompaniment, the words and rhymes are allowed to shine. Everything is here from Mother Goose favorites such as “Sing a Song of Sixpence,” “Peter Piper” and “Humpty Dumpty” to classic children’s songs like “This Old Man,” Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Every preschool teacher, librarian and parent should have a copy of this CD.

 

dancrowFor the older set, Dan Crow’s latest album, Concoctions is a solid choice. While there are only five original songs in this collection, they are written more for a grade school audience with an overarching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) theme. With high energy melodies, Crow delivers rousing tunes such as “Science Science Science” which emphasizes the fact that science is everywhere, in the sky, on the ground and all around. “Technology” talks about what technology is and how it has evolved. Here is a cute video to go along with the song. And “You’re an Engineer” touches on the many, many ways that you can be an engineer. The song “Seven” is an ode to that luckiest of numbers while “Franklin D. Dime & Abraham Penny” is about, you guessed it, the coins in your pocket. The unique thing about this album, which would make it useful in a classroom activity, is that the last half of the album is karaoke versions of these five songs. What a fun way to introduce students to the general concept of STEM!

 

Beehives and Bedheads

Beehives and Bedheads performed by Duke Otherwise
Audience: Preschool to Grade 5

Duke OtherwiseWisconsin based Duke Otherwise, or Noah Riemer as he is commonly known, returns with another successful, off the wall outing. All twelve of the original songs on this album are filled with fun, imaginative word play set to melodies that will keep listeners thoroughly engaged. While some of the topics are just plain silly like a dancing pig, what your nose and ears would be like if you lived a thousand years, and poor Kitty Wampus, the school bus driver who is always getting lost, others have enough of a grain of truth to them to make them relatable. Little boys who are at the stage where taking a bath is a horrible thought will love all but the ending of “So Good at Smelling Bad” about a boy who hasn’t taken a bath in five years while both parents and children will enjoy the song “Don’t Say What Daddy Says,” which talks about the times in life when Daddy may say a bad or mean word but ends with the important lesson that children shouldn’t repeat those same words. Most of the songs have upbeat tempos that keep things moving along, like “What Kind of Hairdo Do You Do?” which mentions over 30 different hairstyles from the beehive to a comb-over to a Princess Leia all in under two minutes. No matter the subject of the songs, Riemer’s rich baritone always conveys the lyrics clearly while supported by various combinations of instruments covering a variety of musical genres. This is a great album for family listening but could also be used in the classroom as an example of how to take every day situations and make them fun and silly.

Note: I have seen Duke Otherwise perform. It’s a fantastic, fun, interactive show that also contains some awesome tap dancing. Well worth taking a look if you’re ever in the Midwest and can catch a show.

I Believe in Little Things

I Believe in Little Things performed by Diana Panton
Audience: Preschool to Grade 5
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This is one of my favorite albums of the year. Partly because of the nostalgia attached to several of the songs that tugs at my heart strings, but mostly because of Panton’s beautiful voice and the incredible musicians accompanying her. A Canadian jazz singer, Panton has made a career out of performing top notch music for adults, earning many accolades along the way including a Juno award (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy award). In this, her first album for children, she lets her voice shine on fourteen lovely, gentle songs that would be perfect at bedtime as a nice alternative to traditional lullabies, during those quiet moments in storytimes and programs, or just those more reserved times of a family’s day. Included in this collection are charming versions of well known songs, some of which are rarely covered, that I’m so happy to see being introduced to children today. Songs like, “Little Things” and “Sing” from Sesame Street as well as “The Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie, “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Pinocchio, and “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Panton is also fluent in French and her mastery of the language is displayed in the lovely song “Alice in Wonderland.” I Believe in Little Things is a must have for every collection.

Some of My Favorites

I’ve spent the last month debating with myself over which album would be the best one to launch Kids Rhythm and Rock. It was a really tough decision. With so much great music being produced every month how was I ever going to choose? So, I decided, why pick just one? How about three instead? Here are several of the nominees (one of which was the winner) for the 2016 Best Children’s Album Grammy Award. Their styles are completely different, but each album shines and belongs in every library collection.

 

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¡Come Bien! Eat Right! performed by José-Luis Orozco. 
Audience: Grades K-5
José-Luis Orozco, a bilingual educator and children’s author, has been writing and performing music for children for more than 40 years. His newest album, ¡Come Bien! Eat Right!, provides 19 bilingual songs on the general theme of healthy eating and nutrition. While many of the songs are educational, they are never didactic. The songs and chants are first performed in Spanish with the second half of the album featuring the English versions. Each song is upbeat and engaging. Topics range from the various kinds of milk to wholesome snacks and the importance of water. Some of the songs feature Latin dance styles, as in “The Fruit Conga,” in which colors and types of fruit are celebrated, and “The Dance of the Legumes,” which not only teaches listeners about the various kinds of beans but also gives step-by-step instructions for a cha-cha-cha. Many of the songs, including “Chocolate” and “Tortilla,” ask for audience participation either through call and response or clapping.  Orozco’s charming voice is woven together with beautiful instrumentation that will delight and entertain children and parents alike. Whether you are a Spanish speaker or not, you will find yourself singing along with both versions of the songs.

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How Great Can This Day Be performed by Lori Henriques
Audience: Preschool – Grade 5
How Great Can This Day Be is a wonderful example of Lori Henriques’s continuing respect for a child’s ability to appreciate the rich, complex arrangements found in jazz music. Much of the original music on this album is built around a full jazz ensemble, with songs crossing from traditional jazz to Dixieland and cabaret and back again.  The subjects range from parks where you can play and harvest edible greenery to how to express joy about the wonderful things in life. One of the highlights is the beautiful tribute to Jane Goodall in “Dream Jane Dream” which Henriques had the privilege of playing for Goodall herself, last fall.  Although most of the songs are single voice, Henriques does include two duets. “Beau Paris” features her young son, who delightfully joins her in singing a variety of phrases in French and the charming ode to friendship, “I Am Your Friend,” on which she and her husband sing a sweet duet. Listeners will love the rich sounds of the moaning trombone, whispering flute and piano.

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Home performed by Tim Kubart
Audience: Grades K-3
Tim Kubart is a man of many talents. He’s the host of the Sprout Channel’s morning show, Sunny Side Up, the highly energetic Tambourine Guy for the amazing Postmodern Jukebox and a creator and performer of music for children. And, oh yes. The winner of the 2016 Best Children’s Album Grammy award. And the album that won that Grammy? Home, Kubart’s second album for children. As with his debut, this album is filled with pop songs that will have listeners singing and, in some cases, dancing along. By writing the lyrics from the perspective of a child, Kubart and fellow songwriter Matt Puckett are able to capture the highs and lows of everyday life and convey them in a way that the target audience can relate to. The album is bookended by songs that look at the concept of home in very different ways. “Last Turn Home” emphasizes the fun of going away but recognizes the important feeling of home as the place where you belong. In contrast, the final song, “Moving Day,” shows a different perspective with the acknowledgment that home isn’t a physical place but rather wherever your family is. The songs in between cover topics such as the arrival of a new sibling, the wonders of creating art, the joy of “Dancing in the Kitchen” with your family, and, in “Better,” featuring Laurie Berkner, how much better it is to do things together with those you love. The infectious hooks and melodies will have you singing along in no time. For more about Tim Kubart, check out this interview from the June issue of School Library Journal.

 

Welcome to Kids Rhythm and Rock!

Welcome! My name is Veronica De Fazio. I started my career as a children’s librarian in public libraries in 1996. In 1998 I began reviewing audiovisual materials for School Library Journal. I reviewed books on tape (yes, they were all still on cassette then), videos which became DVDs and music. Over the years, the focus of the items that I reviewed slowly changed from a variety of formats to just children’s music.

What originally was, almost exclusively, acoustic guitar led folk music, over the years slowly morphed into something that was so much more. It was pop. It was rock. It was alternative. It got new sub-genres, kindie rock/pop/etc. It had electric guitars, drums, brass, jazz piano. It had a reggae, funk, country beat. Children’s music became as rich as any offering for adults. And yet, it was still completely accessible to children.

With the growth in the variety of children’s music came an explosion in new artists and albums. I know that as busy librarians, teachers or parents, you don’t have time to listen to every new release and that’s why I’m here. At least twice a week, I’ll be posting about new children’s albums and how they might best be enjoyed. I’ll also be sharing news from the land of children’s music and hopefully creating a place where we can share suggestions and ideas for using this new music in our early literacy and programming efforts.

I look forward to jamming with you on this new musical adventure!

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