Joy to the World! 10 Children’s Music CDs of Love, Peace, & Silliness | ClefNotes

From Sonia De Los Santos’s ¡Alegría!, which explores joy and happiness, to Ginalina’s It Takes a Village to Legion of Peace: Songs Inspired by Nobel Laureates by Lori Henriques Quintet featuring Joey Alexander, many of this season’s children’s music selections are filled with thoughtful positivity.

From Sonia De Los Santos’s ¡Alegría!, which explores joy and happiness, to Ginalina’s It Takes a Village to Legion of Peace: Songs Inspired by Nobel Laureates by Lori Henriques Quintet featuring Joey Alexander, many of this season’s children’s music selections are filled with thoughtful positivity.

But there’s still plenty of room for goofiness and whimsy, as Tom Mason and the Blue Baccaneers’ If You Want To Be a Pirate and The Story Pirates’ Nothing Is Impossible demonstrate.

¡Alegría! Performed by Sonia De Los Santos. CD. Approx. 38 min. Golondrina. 2018. $15.
PreS-Gr 2–In this follow-up to 2015’s Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León to the New York Island, De Los Santos explores the themes of alegría, which translates to joy, and happiness. Throughout the 12 songs on this album, listeners are reminded to find the happiness in both the exciting times, as well as the quiet moments in the day. Eight of the songs are originals that are performed in Spanish and feature Latin American rhythms like cumbia, curralo and huayno while highlighting a whole host of traditional instruments, such as the gaita flute from Colombia which features prominently in “Mariposa Montuna,” a song celebrating the incredible migration undertaken by monarch butterflies each year. Complex vocals are woven together with fast-moving melodies resulting in beautiful songs such as “Calibri Amarillo” and “Los Pajaritos.” De Los Santos weaves together the fast-paced songs with quieter moments including “Amopolita” and the English lullaby “Daisy Mae,” featuring beautiful harmonies performed with Elizabeth Mitchell. Additional songs performed in English include the playful tune “Hey Little Bunny!” and “Songs for the People,” based on a poem written by 19th-century African American poet Frances Ellen Watkins, with Dan Zanes and Claudia Eliaza taking lead on the vocals. “Donde Tú Estés, Wherever You Go” is the sole bilingual tune on the album. De Los Santos added Spanish translations to lyrics originally written in English by Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, and the three perform the song together to close out the album. Liner notes include an introductory note to each song along with complete lyrics. VERDICT A must-have for all collections.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL
 

If You Want To Be a Pirate. Performed by Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers. CD. Approx. 38 min. Gas Station Music. 2018. $15.
K-Gr 5–Mason and the Blue Buccaneers perform 10 original songs in pop, rock, and folk musical styles, giving excellent performances on guitar, dobro, mandolin, banjo, violin, bouzouki, bass, trombone, accordion, drums, and percussion. “If You Want To Be a Pirate,” one must draw a pirate flag, tie a scarf around the head, and talk like a pirate. “Kristofer the Kindly Kraken” has the kindest and greatest heart in the sea. It’s “A Lot of Work To Be a Pirate” because the crew’s chores include swabbing decks, bailing water, raising sails, and hoisting flags. The pirates can’t find the “Treasure Through the Trash,” because there is a plethora of detritus in the sea (kudos for the vocabulary building!). “My Invisible Crew” includes a first mate, a quartermaster, a surgeon and others. When a family bought a parrot, they realized that it must have been the “Parrot of a Pirate” by its speech. “Talk Like a Pirate” encourages listeners to mimic a pirate’s speech. “Treasure the Sea” entreats listeners to care for the ocean. VERDICT Pirate-loving kids will love this upbeat album with its catchy tunes and toe-tapping rhythms. –Beverly Wrigglesworth, formerly of San Antonio Public Library
 

Inside I Shine. Performed by Danny Weinkauf and the Red Pants Band. CD. Approx. 31 min. Red Pants Music. 2018. $10.
Pre-S-Gr 1–They Might Be Giants bassist Weinkauf has written songs for television shows such as Sesame Street. Here on their fourth album for children, he and the Red Pants Band perform 16 songs in pop, various styles of rock, Dixieland jazz, and Motown musical styles. The musicians perform enthusiastically on ukulele, horns, drums, and other instruments. These upbeat and lively songs will help teachers in the classroom complement early learning language and science concepts. We are “Going to the Library” to read the fun stories in the books. “B Is for Body” explains what different body parts do. There are a “Dozen Good Reasons” that people are in love. “Over and Under” teaches directional words, such as over a log and under the table. The activities in “We Love to Verb” include running, jumping, and spilling. A child takes his “Teddy Bear” everywhere. Learning to ride a “Tricycle” is fun. “Hey Mr. Bus Driver,” asks the driver if he can give someone a ride to school, the park, or the zoo. “Pumpkins (Are My Favorite Fruit)” because one can make pumpkin pancakes and eat pumpkin seeds. “Grilled Cheese” makes children happy because it is tasty and delicious. A child gets out of bed, brushes his teeth, combs his hair, and says “Good Morning to You.” A child believes “The Moon is Made of Cheese” despite being informed about the moon landing. “Wiggle Wiggle” encourages participatory movement. The final brief piece is a lovely jazz “Library Piano.” VERDICT This energetic album will encourage listeners to move and groove to the music.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library


 

It Takes a Village. Performed by Ginalina. CD. Approx. 27 min. Ginalina Music. 2018. $9.49.
PreS-Gr 3–Ginalina continues her message of love for one another and the world around us on her latest folk-pop album for families. Throughout the 12 songs in this collection, listeners are encouraged to support and celebrate one another, and to offer friendship and compassion in order to lift one another up. Supported by upbeat tempos and lovely, light vocals on songs like “Welcome to the Neighbourhood,” “Everything Changes,” and the title track, “It Takes a Village,” these themes feel like things we can all easily accomplish, if we just try. Woven into the list are several tracks that shine a light on the wonders of nature including “Spring is Here” and “The Life Cycle (Hop, Hop, Hop)” which tells the tale of frogs. There is a bilingual element to the album with “Dans la Rivière (tous Connectés)” being sung completely in French and “Apple Apple Seed” being sung in English and French. VERDICT No matter the subject matter, the catchy lyrics and jaunty melodies will have listeners quickly singing along.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL
 

Kidz STEM Songz. Performed by Dan Crow and various artists. 2 CDs. 1 DVD Approx. 90 min. Kidz Music Records. 2018. $20.98.
K-Gr 5 –Gathered by children’s music artist Dan Crow and his partners at KidzMusic Records, this release includes two full albums and a DVD of music videos all focused on STEM topics. The first CD in this box set is Crow’s 2016 album of STEM-focused songs, Concoctions. The five songs on this album cover simple math concepts, technology and the fact that science is all around us. The album also includes five accompanying karaoke tracks to encourage kids to sing along. The second album in this set is KidzMusic’s STEAM. The 15 songs on this album cover topics ranging from the genius of Einstein to botany. Each track is performed by a varied group of children’s artists including Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, Hap Palmer, Bill Harley, and Danny Weinkauf. This box set is definitely one of a kind. The DVD contains five animated videos for songs by Dan Crow. VERDICT This collection of STEM subjects set to music will delight children who are learning about them for school or just for fun.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL
 

Legion of Peace: Songs Inspired by Nobel Laureates. Performed by Lori Henriques Quintet featuring Joey Alexander. CD. Approx. 48 min. Motema Music. 2018. $12.79.
K-Gr 5–Grammy-nominated musicians Henriques and Alexander and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus combine their talents to present a beautiful album that teaches listeners they don’t have to be superheroes to do amazing things. Henriques composed and arranged all of the tracks on the album, infusing them with jazz-filled melodies that perfectly accompany lyrics inspired by the lives and accomplishments of Nobel laureates Jody Williams, Malala Yousafzai, Wangari Maathai, Muhammad Yunus, Ralph Bunche, Leymah Gbowee, Desmond Tutu, and Jimmy Carter. Backed by an incredibly talented group of musicians, Henriques’s solo vocals shine. Liner notes provide brief background information on each of the laureates honored on the album. VERDICT Legion of Peace is the perfect way to start conversations about the multiple ways that peace can be achieved.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL


Nothing Is Impossible. Performed by The Story Pirates. CD. Approx. 46 min. The Striking Viking Story Pirates. 2018. $9.99.
K-Gr 5–The stories of the 12 mini-musicals on this album are taken from ideas submitted by young fans. Several of the songs include dialogue and a short story or monologue. The Story Pirates band is made up of professional vocalists and musicians, all of whom give excellent performances. The instrumentalists perform on guitar, bass, piano, violin, keyboards, synths, and drums. Musical styles range from funk, to electro-pop to hip hop. “Fart Out Loud Day” includes fart sound effects. A group of monsters sing at a Halloween party in “Frank the Monster Who Wasn’t Scary.” Glitter, a talented pony, believes “Nothing is Impossible,” and so yearns and practices to become the best guitar player in the world. “Fred the Carrot,” who lives on Saturn, devises ways to get a human to Saturn so that he can be eaten. The narrator wonders “What the World Was Called Before Us,” and suggests such unlikely names as “Cow,” “Dolphin,” and “Spaghetti.” The other pieces include “Pizza Revenge,” “Riding a Seagull Was Good,” “How Penguin Office Became a Thing,” and “The Guy.” VERDICT This creative and inventive project will keep young listeners mesmerized.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, formerly of San Antonio Public Library
 

Ready or Not! Performed by The Not-Its! CD. Approx.37 min. Little Loopy Records. 2018. $12.
K-Gr 5–The Not-Its (Sarah Shannon, Danny Adamson, Michael Welke, Tom Baisden, and Jennie Helman) perform 12 upbeat, toe-tapping rock and pop songs. With bold harmonies, expert bass, guitar riffs, and pounding drums, the band performs songs to which children can relate. “Hide and Seek” celebrates playing that game. A child imagines that he shrinks down to the size of a “Little Bug.” Listeners are challenged to a “Staring Contest.” “Heading Home” chronicles a child’s solo airplane journey from one parent to another. “Tiger Moth” tells how the wooly bear (a caterpillar) goes through metamorphosis. The school budget being tight, parents and teachers are gearing up for “The Battle of Curriculum Night.” A child blames the family cat for the breakage in “A Lie Is a Lie.” A child’s imagination takes him around the world on his “Runaway Bike.” In “Potty Mouth,” a child learns he cannot take back the bad word he said. “Let the Games Begin” describes the excitement of an unspecified ball game. A child is afraid of a “Daddy Long Legs” crawling on him. While lying in bed, a child wonders “What Will I Be?” VERDICT This is a great album that will speak directly to young listeners and their imaginations.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, formerly of the San Antonio Public Library
 

Swamp Romp. Performed by Johnette Downing with Scott Billington. CD. 42 min. Wiggle Worm Records. 2019. $10.
PreS-Gr 3–Johnette Downing’s first family music album collaboration with Grammy winner Scott Billington is a Cajun celebration from beginning to end. Featuring 15 original songs by Downing and Billington, many of the tunes like “Mudbug Boogie,” “Bamboula Rhythm,” and “Get Ready, Get Set, Let’s Groove” are designed to get children up and moving, while “Mississippi River” is a chant-like song, written in the North Mississippi fife-and-drum band style that will have children spelling Mississippi and jamming along in no time. While the entire album embraces Louisiana roots music, several of the songs such as “Who Got the Baby in the King Cake?” “How To Dress a Po’ Boy” and “Crawfish Étouffée” really place listeners in the heart of New Orleans life. Detailed liner notes include background information on each song’s origins as well as some of the album’s guest performers. VERDICT Downing’s latest outing is a toe-tapping, hand-clapping dance party from beginning to end.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL
 

Winterland. Performed by The Okee Dokee Brothers. CD. Approx.48 min. Okee Dokee Music. 2018. $12.49.
K-Gr 5–The Grammy and Parents’ Choice Award-winning duo (Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander) perform 16 songs celebrating winter. Their guest musicians, including Dean Jones of Dog on Fleas, perform with great enthusiasm on banjo, guitar, ukulele, bass, fiddle, upright bass, violin, piano, organ, flute, saxophone, trombone, harmonica, accordion, and percussion in bluegrass, folk, zydeco, country, pop and jazz musical styles. “Welcome Home,” to the tune of the traditional Irish ballad “Whiskey in the Jar,” celebrates Joe’s newborn son. “Blankets of Snow” help warm people on cold winter days. The only thing biting is the cold weather at the “Ice Fishin’ Shack.” The “Abominable Yeti” is horrible, indomitable, deplorable, etc. “Keep Me Warm” borrows the traditional Irish tune, “I’ll Tell Me Ma.” Children, like “Candles,” should shine; this song partially incorporates the tune “This Little Light of Mine.” “Slumberjacks” don’t cut down trees—this is the duo’s first recorded a cappella song. Learning to play a “Ukulele in a Snowstorm” is a good way to remain warm. There is too much to do on a “Lazy Day.” Daffodil sprouts are just one of the “Signs of Spring.” The accompanying booklet has an illustration and annotation for each of the songs. VERDICT Families will want to listen to this album while huddling by the fireplace on a cold winter day.–B­everly Wrigglesworth, formerly of San Antonio Public Library

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