Are You Listening? Performed by The Not-Its! CD. 30 min. Little Loopy Records. 2016. $11.99.
K-Gr 3–Seattle-based The Not-Its are back, and their seventh album of kindie rock is filled with driving beats, wailing guitars, and clever lyrics. Whether it’s “Granddad Is a Spy,” where the child loves hearing all of his grandfather’s amazing stories about why he does things the way he does (it’s because he’s a spy, of course) while mom and dad just roll their eyes, or “Brain Freeze,” which details the full summertime experience (sunscreen, heat, trying to find change in mom’s purse) of getting cool treats from the ice-cream truck, many of the 10 songs are based on topics that are relatable to both children and adults. “Dance with Me,” a high-energy tune, is a great song to use in storytimes or programming directing listeners to move their hands up high and down low, move their bodies, and just let it go. Fans of Gwen Stefani will love the sound and feel of “Don’t Fear the Dentist.” VERDICT A welcome addition to every collection.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL
Butterflies Wear Sneakers. Performed by Steve Pullara. CD. 36 min. Cool Beans Music. 2015. $9.99.
K-Gr 3–Grammy Award winner Steve Pullara has put together a wonderful album of country, folk, pop, and bluegrass songs. Nine are original songs; “Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away” is a cover of a Stevie Wonder song. Pullara and his Red Eared Sliderz give excellent performances on vocals, guitar, dobro, banjo, fiddle, cello, mandolin, bass, keyboards, drums, harmonica, and tambourine. In “Where’s Daddy,” a child bemoans the fact that Daddy is engrossed in a televised sporting event with his friends. Other song titles include “The More Teeth Missin’ the Better for Kissin’,” “When I’m with You,” “Somedays,” “Truck Driver Momma,” “So Small,” “Bessie Sweet Bessie,” “Three Ring Circus,” “Just Visiting,” and “Aliens Playing Bluegrass.” VERDICT The entire family will enjoy this terrific album.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library
Concoctions. Performed by Dan Crow. CD. 31:33 min. Kidzmusic. 2016. $9.99.
Gr K-5–Veteran children’s performer and songwriter Crow focuses his new album on the facets of STEM. The first of the five original songs in this collection, “Science Science Science,” stresses that science is for everyone and is all around. The following two songs describe what technology is and enumerate the many different ways in which you can be an engineer. The last two songs are about math, with the first song an ode to that lucky number seven and the last song, “Franklin D. Dime & Abraham Penny,” a fun introduction to the coins in your pocket. All of the songs have supercatchy tunes that will invite children to clap and sing along. In fact, the songs are so singable, the last five tracks on this album are karaoke versions of the first five songs. VERDICT A must-have for libraries where STEM is emphasized. A solid addition to every collection.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL
The Eensy Weensy CD of Little Fingerplays. Performed by Debbie Carroll. CD. 16 min. Merriweather Records. 2015. $16.
PreS-Gr 2–Carroll performs 18 traditional and original fingerplays and songs, some spoken, some sung. She delivers the spoken fingerplays clearly and sings the songs sweetly. The accompanying booklet includes the lyrics for each fingerplay and song, along with finger and hand motions. The album includes “Five Little Peas,” “I Find a Seed,” “The Eensy Weensy Spider,” “This Little Piggy Went to Market,” “Whoops! Johnny,” “Here’s a Pot of Tea,” “A Daisy in the Garden,” “Here Is the Beehive,” “Minnows in the Georgian Bay,” “The Wise Mother Duck,” “This River Flows,” “This Little Cow Eats Grass,” “Five Furry Pussycats,” “Ten Little Bats,” “I Shut the Door,” “One Train Engine,” “Here Is the Mountain, and “This Is a Baby.” VERDICT This album is a great resource for children’s librarians and early childhood teachers.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library
A Frog Named Sam: A Musical for Children. Performed by Ben Rudnick and Friends. CD. 32 min. Produced by Bartlett Ave. Productions. 2015. $14.95.
PreS-Gr 3–Rudnick’s musical is based on his 2009 hit song, “A Frog Named Sam.” In the story, when Sam returns home from a world tour, he is distressed to find his pond overgrown and nearly waterless. When an extraterrestrial crash-lands in the pond, he befriends Sam and takes him on an intergalactic adventure to save the pond. This soundtrack of the musical includes 10 original songs in bluegrass, Western swing, country, disco, reggae, folk, rock, and classic rock musical styles. All of the vocals and instrumental performances on guitar, mandolin, bass, fiddle, upright bass, harmonica, clarinet, and percussion are excellent and exuberant. Song titles include “A Frog Named Sam,” “When Something’s Got You Terribly Blue,” “Reading a Book,” “My Horse,” “Macaroni and Cheese,” “I Got a New Friend,” “Race Car,” “Love Is a Superpower,” “The Adventure Song,” and “Coney Island Crazy.” VERDICT This is a real treat for children and grown-ups alike.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library
Heart Beats: Feel Good Songs for Families. Various Performers. CD. 33 min. Mighty Mo Productions. 2016. $9.99.
K-Gr 5–This anthology of 12 love songs features growing families, shining love everywhere, sharing love, and love for plush toys, family, and children. The award-winning kindie artists perform in folk, pop, zydeco, jazz, rock, and reggae musical styles. Songs and artists include “Little Bitta You” by Andrew & Polly, “When One Became Two” by The Verve Pipe, “Light of Love” by Brady Rymer, “Love Is the Way” by Sunshine Collective, “Love Comes Back” by Jim Cosgrove & Jazzy Ash, “Love My Lovey” by Katydid, “Because I Love You” by Caspar Babypants, “Dear to Me” by Rissi Palmer, “L-O-V-E” by Josh and the Jamtones, “Our Love Fits” by Danny Weinkauf, “Give Me a Hug” by Joanie Leeds & the Nightlights, and “E’s Lullaby” by Ratboy Jr. VERDICT Although the album was created for Valentine’s Day, these lively, singable, family-friendly tunes will be welcome every day.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library
I Believe in Little Things. Performed by Diana Panton. CD. approx. 55 min. Entertainment One Music. 2016. $11.
PreS-Gr 5–In her debut album for families, Canadian jazz vocalist Panton weaves a beautiful spell with a delightful selection of classics from children’s movies and television. Parents and grandparents who remember songs such as “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, “The Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie, and “When You Wish upon a Star” from Pinocchio will have a hard time not singing along with Panton’s dulcet tones. The use of Panton’s solo voice backed by the lush yet simple accompaniment of a cello, piano, or guitar enhances the gentle feel of the album. Add in songs like “Little Things” and “Sing” from Sesame Street and you have an assortment of songs that children and adults will love to listen to during those quiet times of day or just before bed. VERDICT For fans of Lori Henriques or anyone looking for an alternative to the wide variety of kindie music. A must-have for all collections.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL
It’s a Doo Da Day. Performed by Wendy & DB. CD. approx. 40 min. Planet Wendy Publishing. 2015. $14.99.
PreS-Gr 3–Wendy Morgan and Darryl Boggs, or Wendy & DB, as they are known in the world of children’s music, return with a new album filled with 12 original songs. Things start off with the energetic celebration title song, “It’s a Doo Da Day” combined with the classic “You Are My Sunshine,” setting the tone for the wonderful mix of songs that get you up and moving and those songs that are a little quieter and more introspective. Woven throughout are the themes of acceptance and empowerment, often with the message that you are great just the way you are and it’s okay to feel the things you feel whether it’s curiosity, anger, sadness, or joy. While the lyrics send an important message, they are never didactic. Sung by Wendy and DB sometimes as solo voices and other times as duets, and laid over melodies that feature instruments such as fiddles and banjos, each song is fun to listen to and invites you to sing along. VERDICT Most of the songs are long enough for teachers to use in the classroom but short enough for children and families to enjoy. A welcome addition to every collection.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL
Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León to the New York Island. Performed by Sonia De Los Santos. CD. 40:50 min. Festival Five Records. 2015. $11.99.
PreS Up–In telling her story of growing up in Monterrey, Mexico; learning the stories of her family and those she’s met along the way; and moving to the United States, De Los Santos has created a beautiful album for families of all ages. While these 12 tunes are in Spanish, listeners do not have to speak Spanish to enjoy them. Songs about birds, the moon and the stars, and chocolate are so joyfully accompanied by instruments such as the jarana, the guitar, maracas, and bongos that children and adults will find themselves dancing and singing along. The album opens with the Woody Guthrie classic “This Land Is Your Land,” skillfully translated into Spanish by De Los Santos and performed 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.” De Los Santos is joined by a host of talented musicians from around the world on songs from Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. Liner notes provide the mostly Spanish lyrics as well as a brief note about each song and the song title in English. VERDICT While this is a must-have for collections serving Spanish-speaking populations, this album will be right at home in any library.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL
Michael and the Rockness Monsters. Performed by Michael Napolitano. CD. 37 min. CD Baby. 2016. $8.99.
PreS-Gr 3–Napolitano presents a lively album of 13 original songs in pop, rock, calypso, and jazz musical styles. An enthusiastic children’s chorus joins in on most of the songs. Vocals and instrumental performances are strong. In “Pirate Song,” Michael describes things about pirates, and then gives silly answers, such as “princess” or “pineapple,” so that the children shout out, “No! Pirate!” In “Single Digits,” Michael wishes for warmer weather. Other songs include “Rock It,” “Fisherman,” “Cosmic Vacation,” “Dinosaur Haircut,” “Pretty Little World,” “In a Band,” “Micemaker,” “If I Were an Octopus,” “Farm Dream,” “Mister Zizowe,” and “Humming Song.” VERDICT This is a fun album that children will enjoy.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library