Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Music for Life

I love to sing.  The advent of the new school year brings a new chorale season.  Joining this community of musicians last year gave my voice a fresh purpose and a weekly date night with my husband, who also joined (We met in choir in college).  Before I had kids, I could imagine myself singing to my children: rocking in a chair for a lullaby, dancing around the room to a foot-stomper, or acting out a story/song.  I re-familiarized myself with lullaby lyrics and learned some new ones.  I got recommendations for children’s CDs (must haves: Elizabeth Mitchell, Laurie Berkner, and for train lovers, Choo Choo Soul.)  But I had no idea there were so many terrific picture books with song lyrics as text.  My kids love music just as much as I do and we enjoy every discovery.  Take a look at some of these:
Hush Little Baby (Sylvia Long) - This is one of my favorite board books.  I love the peaceful lullaby time of night and I have always liked the melody of Hush Little Baby.  One thing bothered me about it, though, as I got older.  The original text is a list of bribes to get a baby to stop crying!  Not the best message to go with the beautiful tune, although I’m sure it has a lot of folk value.  Sylvia Long had the same thought and created this beautiful book with alternative lyrics that highlight exploring and discovering the world with a young child.  Pick this one up for a baby shower gift or the little one in your life!

If You Were My Bunny (Kate McMullan; David McPhail) – Parents, read the last page of this lullaby book to yourself first to give yourselves a jump on the tunes within.  There are five common lullabies, rewritten from an animal’s point-of-view.  For example, the rabbit mama sings “Hush little cottontail don't you hop. Mama's going to bring you a carrot top..."  This gentle book makes a calm and unique end to the day.

The Neighborhood Sing-Along (Nina Crews) – Nina Crews, daughter of the famed children’s author/illustrator Donald Crews (his Freight Train is another huge favorite in this house), is a photographer, creating stories around children in everyday settings.  In this case, she illustrates 34 children’s songs by photographing kids on and around the streets of Brooklyn.  This book is a companion to Crews’ The Neighborhood Mother Goose.

I Love You! A Bushel & A Peck (Words and music by Frank Loesser; pictures by Rosemary Wells) – I love musicals, so I was delighted when I happened upon this frolicking good time on the library shelves.  If the title doesn’t tip you off, Wells illustrated a song from the musical “Guys & Dolls”.  If you’re only familiar with the movie version with Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando, you will have missed out on this tune.  For some reason, it wasn’t included.  I have to admit, it is very catchy, so be warned.  This ditty just might get stuck in your head! (That’s my 3 year old’s new favorite phrase: “Is it stuck in your head, Mommy?”)
On Top of Spaghetti (Author/Illustrator: Paul Brett Johnson; Lyrics: Tom Glazer) – I love this take on the classic song.  Who can resist these opening lines? “Howdy, folks.  Welcome to Yodeler Jones’s Spaghetti Emporium & Musicale.  You’re just in time to hear about the BIG SNEEZE.”  The reader is treated to a story just as silly as the song, with hysterical consequences.  Sheet music, lyrics, and a recipe for spaghetti and meatballs are included at the end!  (Yes, this was also on my “spaghetti” book list, but I couldn’t resist including it here as well.)

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