July 20, 2017

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The Latest from Lisa Loeb | April 2017 ClefNotes

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Bucket of Wow. Performed by Stephen Michael Schwartz. CD. Approx. 35 min. S-Team Productions. 2016. $12.98.
K-Gr 3 Award-winning Schwartz, a member of the children’s band Parachute Express, performs 11 original songs in jazz, pop, show tune, country Western, and bluegrass musical styles on this second solo album. His vocals are glorious, and the backing musicians make beautiful sounds on guitar, violin, trombone, clarinet, keyboards, bass, drums, and percussion. The song “Bucket of Wow” tells about a very happy day; a child encourages his dad and mom to leave their daily worries behind and “Take a Hike”; Schwartz has a conversation with a little girl about her loose tooth and assures her that it is a sign of growing up in “Losing a Tooth”; a child imagines a world with everything colored differently in “My Rainbow World”; in “The Panda Bear,” a child drinks tea, takes walks, and rides bikes with his imaginary friend; a child feels safe in his “Sanctuary,” which also has Chinese lyrics sung by Lily Yuan. The other songs include “I’m Being Followed by the Moon,” “One Rainbow,” “Going There With You,” “My Baby Tree,” and “The Boo-Boo Song.” VERDICT A delightful album that the whole family will enjoy.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library

Dream Too Much. Performed by Amy Lee. CD. 28 min. Amy Lee Music. 2016. $11.99.
PreS-Gr 3 Those familiar with the adult rock band Evanescence may be surprised when they first hear front woman Lee’s debut album for children. While Lee’s commanding vocals are still evident, they never overpower a song, instead adding an energy and uplifting feeling to the lyrics that both parents and children will enjoy. These 12 tunes feature beautiful harmonies provided by Lee and her sisters, especially the opening song, a lovely version of “Stand by Me,” and the title track, “Dream Too Much.” Covers of “Rubber Duckie,” “Hello Goodbye,” and “Goodnight My Love” are also included. Parents will relate to original songs such as “I’m Not Tired,” in which a child lists all of the familiar reasons why it’s not time to go to bed, and “The End of the Book,” with the chorus, “Read it again, read it again.” VERDICT Not only will parents not mind listening to this album again and again, they may even find themselves singing along.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL

Feel What U Feel. Performed by Lisa Loeb. CD. 31 min. Furious Rose Productions. 2016. $9.99.
K-Gr 2Award-winning singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb has produced another outstanding album of 12 appealing, upbeat songs in pop, rock, hip-hop, and bluegrass musical styles. Guest musicians Rich Jacques, Kazumi Shimokawa, and Matt Star contribute their instrumental expertise on guitar, piano, keyboards, drums, and percussion. The album also boasts guest performances by actor and musician friends of Loeb’s, including Ed Helms, Renee Stahl Dektor, and Kyler England. The title song, “Feel What U Feel,” features actor Craig Robinson (Mr. Robot) on vocals and gives listeners permission to express feelings such as “cranky, janky…busy, dizzy, silly, fizzy,” etc. According to Loeb, “Say Hello” is a good way to break the ice. “You Can Count on Me” promises listeners that they can accomplish actions by themselves or together with a trusted adult. “Wiggle” invites listeners to move and dance with the music. “You Have It in You” celebrates the patience and perseverance of children learning to do things on their own. Other song titles include “Moon Star Pie (It’s Gonna Be Alright),” “I Was Here,” “The Sky Is Always Blue,” “It’s All Right To Cry,” “Let’s Keep the Band Together,” “Wanna Do Day,” and a reprise of “You Can Count on Me” as a lullaby. VERDICT The appealing tunes and lyrics will delight parents and their children.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library

Gratitude & Kindness. Performed by Dr. Mac & Friends. Approx. 17 min. HappyKidsSongs. 2016. $4.95 download.
Greatest Hits. Performed by Dr. Mac & Friends. Approx. 15 min. HappyKidsSongs. 2016. $4.95 download.
PreS-K Part of the award-winning series of “Happy Kids Songs,” both of these albums feature terrific professional vocalists (adults and children) and instrumentalists. Each album includes five songs in rock, hip-hop, rap, jazz, pop, polka, yodel, and show tune musical styles. “In the Same Boat” explains that retaliation for perceived wrongs is not a good solution. Kids are urged to speak out against bullying in “Stand Up.” Listeners are also encouraged to be “More Kind” and treat others the way they want to be treated. “Attitude of Gratitude” explains that happiness comes from inside each of us. “Who Gives a Hoot” rounds out the selection of the first album. With “Welcome to the Parade,” Greatest Hits introduces listeners to several band instruments. Listeners are encouraged to use the “Magic Word”—“please.” “Clean Up Time” can be fun with everyone helping. “A Totally Yodeling Day” and “Together” bring this album to a close. VERDICT These offerings will help listeners build better social and emotional skills.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library

The Greatest Hits. Performed by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band. CD. 56 min. Rainy Day Dimes LLC. 2016. $15.99.
PreS-Gr 3 Winner of a Latin Grammy for the album Fantastico! and an Emmy for their local PBS show, the husband-and-wife team of Diaz and Alisha Gaddis offer a collection of 21 of their most-requested songs. This is a good mix from all six of their previous albums, and fans will be happy to hear their favorites all in one place. Among the titles included are “Piñata Attack,” “Skunk Strut,” “Vacation,” “Abracadabra,” “Cuantos Tacos,” and “Lemonade Stand.” The album has two songs not available elsewhere for download: “8000 Feet” and “De Colores.” As always, the duo are nonstop fun, often singing a mile a minute, with smart lyrics that are as lively as the music. VERDICT Those unfamiliar with Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band will appreciate this compilation of the “best” of the group. For those who own the other albums by the band, this is probably skippable.–Stephanie Bange, Wright State University, Dayton, OH

Greatest Hits. Performed by Justin Roberts. CD. Approx. 52 min. Carpet Square Records. 2016. $15.
K-Gr 5 This anthology features 16 of award-winning Roberts’s best songs, which were originally recorded on Great Big Sun, Yellow Bus, Not Naptime, Way Out, Meltdown, PopFly, Jungle Gym, and Recess. These mostly rock and pop selections include “Willy Was a Whale,” “Henrietta’s Hair,” “Pop Fly,” “My Brother Did It,” “Giant Sized Butterflies,” “Meltdown,” “Recess,” “Billy the Bully,” “Little Raindrop,” “Airplane of Food,” “Trick or Treat,” “From Scratch,” “Our Imaginary Rhino,” “Obsessed by Trucks,” “Yellow Bus,” and “School’s Out (Tall Buildings).” VERDICT Fans of Roberts will welcome these fun and favorite songs.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library

Junior Jukebox!: Vol. 4. Performed by Papa Snow. CD. 35 min. Irish Eyes Music. 2016. $15.37.
PreS-Gr 5 –Papa Snow and the other men and women in the band belt out with gusto 10 songs, with the goal of introducing children to the sounds of early rock and roll and rhythm and blues. These rocking, foot-tapping tunes are backed up by guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, and percussion. Eight of the tunes are original, and two are traditional, but all are arranged in the style of classic bands and singers such as Little Richard, the Kingsmen, the Isley Brothers, the Shirelles, Joe Tex, the Ronettes, and the Dixie Cups. For example, the arrangement of “Mister Owl” bears a suspicious resemblance to the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie,” and “Ring a Ring a Rosie” sounds a bit like the Dixie Cups’ “Jock-a-Mo.” The other songs include “Meeting Street,” “Papa’s Farm,” “Old Dan Tucker,” “Hi-Ho-LULU,” “Whistlin’ Ears,” “The Bugscuffle,” “Mama Is Cool,” and “Baby, Oh Baby.” VERDICT The fourth album in an award-winning series, this production is sure to please young and old alike.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library

La La La. Performed by Priscilla Ahn. CD. 30 min. Produced by Priscilla Ahn. 2016. $16.99.
PreS-Gr2 Ahn brings her unique brand of quiet folk pop with hints of jazz to this, her first album for children. Ahn’s crystal clear vocals shine, often calling to mind the sounds of Sara Bareilles. Many of the 12 songs in this collection have a gentle quality that would be perfect for bedtime listening. The song “Dust Bunny” is great for those children who suspect there is a monster in the closet or under the bed, because in this tune, it turns out it is just dust bunnies. The album’s opening song, “Body Sounds,” which encourages listeners to “stomp on the ground, click your tongue, and use your belly as a bongo,” would work well in music classes or storytimes. VERDICT A solid addition to any collection.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL

Let All the Children Boogie: A Tribute to David Bowie. Performed by Various Artists. CD. Approx. 68 min. Spare the Rock Records. 2016. $11.99.
K Up This collection of 20 songs is dedicated to the music and artistry of David Bowie and plays like a greatest hits album. Everything is included here, from “Fashion” to “Modern Love” to “Ziggy Stardust” to “Space Oddity.” Some of the artists do covers that closely follow the originals, such as “Let’s Dance,” performed by Antibalas, while others put their own spin on things, as Lloyd Miller and Dean Jones do on their children’s toy instrument–heavy version of “V-2 Schneider.” Each song is performed by different artists, including well-known children’s musicians Sonia de Los Santos, Elena Moon Park, Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players, Red Yarn, and Elizabeth Mitchell. VERDICT This album is a great option for parents who are looking for “grown-up” music to enjoy as a family.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL

Macaroni. Performed by Meredith LeVande. CD. 34 min. Monkey Monkey Music. 2016. $14.99.
PreS-Gr 3 LeVande, a regular for the past five years on PBS, presents her third album with 16 songs for teaching and entertainment. The backup musicians give excellent performances on guitar, bass, mandolin, keyboard, alto sax, trumpet, drums, and percussion in rock, jazz, pop, and Latin musical styles. Many of the songs encourage participatory movement and dance. “Macaroni” offers suggestions for crafts made with this pasta; on the “Funny Farm,” all the animal sounds are mixed up; “Who’s Got a Belly” contrasts “innies” and “outies”; “Nutshells” showcases simple subtraction; and “Swimming in the Sea” encourages creative dramatics. The other songs include “What Would A…?,” “Alphabet City,” “Let’s Go for a Walk,” “Stomp the Floor,” “Five Senses,” “Big, Big, Big, Big Super Square,” “Butterfly,” “Happy, Happy Birthday,” “Maraca Cha-Cha,” and “Things That Go Round.” VERDICT These upbeat, appealing, singable tunes with foot-tapping beats would be great for classrooms, library storytimes, and toddler dance programs.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library

Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical. CD. 31 min. Masterworks Broadway/Sony Music Entertainment. 2016. $8.98.
K-Gr 6 This soundtrack of a new musical is inspired by the story of Ruby Bridges and the Little Rock Nine. Lily Polkadot has just moved to the small town of Rockaway, which is populated by Squares. Lily tries to gain their acceptance but is bullied and segregated until she meets Sky, a shy Square who accepts Lily for who she is. When newcomer Troy Triangle joins the class, everyone welcomes him with open arms as another Cool Kid. Douglas Lyons (concept and lyrics), Greg Borowsky (composer), and Melvin Tunstall III (book) offer this polished production featuring singer/actors from TV and Broadway, such as Shanice Williams (The Wiz Live!), Alex Newell (Glee), Alysha Deslorieux (Hamilton), Lilli Cooper (The SpongeBob Musical), John Arthur Greene (American Idol, Season 15), and Talia Thiesfield (Veep) and a full band (including woodwinds, horns, strings, piano, and percussion). VERDICT This mix of 14 singable, high-octane show tunes, ballads, and hip-hop songs filled with introspection and snazzy jazzy melodies reinforces the show’s premise: our differences should make us awesome, not outcasts. A fresh approach for teaching units about bullying.–Stephanie Bange, Wright State University, Dayton, OH

Red Pants Band. Performed by Danny Weinkauf. CD. 40 min. Red Pants Music. 2016. $16.
K-Gr 5 The second children’s music album from They Might Be Giants bassist Weinkauf is filled with 15 songs that cover a wide range of themes. This collection is an intriguing balance of songs that tackle educational topics such as the types of clouds, botany, and how to say “I love you” in more than 10 languages as well as clever songs with subjects that include a mom who clearly must have “Eyes in the Back of Her Head” and “This Dog’s Best Friend,” which flips the point of view to the dog, who thinks of the human as his best friend. Also included are “Only One You” and “Picky Eater,” which highlight the theme that it’s OK to be uniquely you. While the majority of the album is upbeat and lively, things slow down toward the end with the soft, beautiful lyrics of “Rubber Ball” (“My love is like a rubber ball, it bounces back to you.”). VERDICT Featuring a wide range of guest performers, smart lyrics, and lively melodies, this is bound to be a hit.–­Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL

Road to Dreamland: Unexpected Lullabies for All Ages. Performed by Jane Roman Pitt. CD. 38 min. Running Pine Music. 2016. $16.97.
PreS Up Jazz singer Roman Pitt brings her musical stylings to this collection of 11 nontraditional lullabies to create an album that lets listeners know that they are taken care of and loved. Included are covers of “Hit the Road to Dreamland,” “Summertime,” “Over the Rainbow,” and Neil Young’s “Barefoot Floors” as well as “Dance Like the Wind,” an original song. The combination of Roman Pitt’s rich vocals and lush instrumentations evokes the feelings of being wrapped in a warm hug. VERDICT A worthwhile addition to collections where lullabies are in high demand.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL

Songs About Us. Performed by Kerry Fenster. CD. 15 min. Muzic School. 2016. $11.98.
K Up Fenster’s debut album may be short (only four original songs), but the content is mighty. What originated as a collection of tunes targeted toward young adults with autism broadened into these songs, to which many people with or without special needs can relate. Based on lessons on life skills, called social stories, each song has its own theme, from making friends by working on having quiet hands to using respectful words to having good hygiene to calmly creating personal space. With a rock/pop sound, these tunes can easily be used with children in grade school all the way through high school. VERDICT This is a must-have for schools and libraries that serve children and young adults with special needs.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL

SpacePOP: Not Your Average Princesses. CD. 31 min. Genius Brands International/Sony Music Entertainment. 2016. $10.79.
Gr 2-6 From the online series launched on YouTube in 2016, this disc features songs performed by SpacePOP and ties into the series of graphic novels by Erin Downing. The webisodes detail the adventures of the five teenage princesses from the Planets of the Pentangle. They have disguised themselves as musicians and formed a band called SpacePOP in order to evade the evil Empress Geela, who has invaded their homes and captured their parents. It is her intent to rid the galaxy of music, beauty, and fashion. The princesses’ mission is to spread the message of freedom and joy through music while joining the rebel resistance force in order to combat Geela and free their enslaved people. These five CGI bandmates play the songs on the disc—ballads, technopop, and driving rock/pop songs—most reinforcing girl power. No creative or performance credits are given on the disc or insert, except the names of two songwriters: Ron Fair and John Loeffler. A sampling of song titles includes “Start Something Big,” “Have a Good Time,” “Unstoppable,” “Never Giving Up,” and “Not Your Average Girl.” The mishmash of musical styles and appeal for preteen girls are on target. VERDICT Nothing earthshaking here. Buy where the graphic novels are popular.–Stephanie Bange, Wright State University, Dayton, OH

Vote for Jim Gill. Performed by Jim Gill. CD. 42 min. Jim Gill Music, Inc. 2016. $16.
PreS-Gr 3 Filled with 14 new songs that encourage “music play” and featuring a bevy of extremely talented musicians, Gill’s newest album is a delight from beginning to end. Children will be up and moving from the first note to the last. Wordplay is the name of the game in the title song, “Vote for Jim Gill,” which examines the double meaning of phrases that can refer to parts of the body as well as campaign promises. “My Accordion Is on the Run” and “Conducting Can Be Fun” playfully explore the world of classical music. Many of the songs, including “Bouncing, Hopping and Jumping,” “Hammer and Saw,” “The Countdown,” and “One from the Left (a Finger Play)” would be perfect additions to storytimes, music classes, or family play time. VERDICT This is a must-have for librarians and early education teachers.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL

We Stood Up. Performed by Various. CD. 63 min. Lincoln Financial Foundation. 2016. Free download to schools, libraries, and nonprofits.
Gr 4 Up Lincoln Financial has released this anthology to commemorate the values of Abraham Lincoln. The album includes seven songs in rap, rock, and folk musical styles: “Freedom Opportunity Equality,” “Free To Be,” “Love,” “We Stood Up,” “No More Us & Them,” “Education,” and “Someone Thinks.” Maya Angelou’s great-granddaughter reads the famous “Caged Bird” poem, and Sonia Sanchez reads her own “Catch the Fire” poem. There are also readings of “The Emancipation Proclamation,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have No Despair,” and Lincoln’s “May Our Children.” Most of the rest of the anthology consists of interviews with a number of influential leaders, including the late Julian Bond and Franklin McCain, civil rights activists; the former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin; and Congressman John Lewis. VERDICT This anthology will be a valuable enhancement for classes studying the civil rights movement.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library

Welcome Summer. Performed by Kathy Reid-Naiman. CD. 39 min. Merriweather Records/CD Baby. 2016. $16.50.
PreS-Gr 3 Canadian Reid-Naiman’s third recording in her “Seasons Series” is a cheery, lighthearted concept album of 19 songs filled with fun summertime adventures and activities. Some are original; others are her arrangements of classic songs. Highlights include “Motorcycle Ride” (an activity song/imaginary ride), “The Fishing Song” (a folksy fish story/song about a fishing trip), “Swimming, Swimming in the Swimming Pool” (this piggyback of “Sailing, Sailing” describes things to do in the pool), “Maggie’s in the Weeds” (a tune about looking for frogs, digging, and butterflies), “Hoosen Johnny” (a traditional song), “Picking Berries” (about picking different berries), and “I’m Going To Take a Bath” (a tune about getting clean after playing). Reid-Naiman’s clear soprano voice is well suited to all these songs; it’s simple and uncomplicated. She opts to add easy harmonies to some songs for interest. Children will enjoy listening in order to pick out music made by a ukulele, a banjo, an accordion, a dulcimer, a harmonica, and several percussion instruments on many of the songs. Most tunes have a laid-back country or folk feeling. VERDICT A sweet diversion, perfect for a summer’s day ride in the car for the family.–Stephanie Bange, Wright State University, Dayton, OH

Wonderful You. Performed by Vanessa Trien & the Jumping Monkeys. CD. 37 min. Adam M. Rothberg. 2016. $14.99.
K-Gr 3 Award-winning Trien lends her lovely vocals to 11 original songs and a cover of the Beatles’ “All Together Now.” The instrumentalists give excellent performances on guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, violin, viola, cello, upright bass, keyboards, trombone, drums, and percussion. Several guest musicians join Trien, including Alastair Moock, Barbara Brousal, Rani Arbo, and Mister G, performing in acoustic folk pop, jazz, reggae, Western swing, and country waltz musical styles. An enthusiastic children’s chorus joins in on several numbers. Friends support one another through tough times in “One Foot in Front of the Other”; there are many amazing things that “Wonderful You” can do; friends watch “Fireworks” over the Brooklyn Bridge; “Monkey Jump,” “Round and Round We Go,” and “Chi Chi Bom Bom” all encourage listeners to get up and dance and move to the music. The other songs include “Shine,” “Magic Wand,” “Willie and the Hand Jive,” “Feeling Thankful,” and “Circle of Friends.” VERDICT This upbeat and bouncy album will appeal to the whole family.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library

You’ve Got Me. Performed by Sara Lovell. CD. 55 min. Zero Gravity Music. 2016. $15.
K-Gr 5 –Lovell’s smooth vocals breathe life into 18 songs in a cappella, rock, 1970s-influenced pop, reggaeton, Afro-Caribbean, klezmer, and lounge musical styles. The backup musicians give excellent performances on piano, electric piano, organ, guitar, ukulele, cello, violin, bass guitar, upright bass, clarinet, drums, glockenspiel, tambourine, shakers, bells, and percussion. A young child’s voice opens and closes the album. “Furry Alligator Puppy” describes wacky and bizarre dreams; “I Can’t Wait” for the party in a couple of days, sings a child bouncing off the walls with anticipation; listeners are advised, “Don’t Play the Piano with Your Nose”; kids will learn all about the night life of socks in “The Midnight Secret Sock Party”; “Dance Like There’s Music in Your Pants” encourages listeners to get up and move to the music. Other songs, with lyrics bursting with imagination, include “We Get Up in the Morning,” “Oh I’m Bored,” “I Can Tell We’re Gonna Be Friends,” “Run Fast Little Rabbit,” “Everybody Has a Body,” and “Tell Me Who’s the Monster.” VERDICT This rollicking, energetic album will resonate with young listeners and their parents.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San ­Antonio Public Library

This article was published in School Library Journal's April 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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