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.
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.