Note: These descriptions of new releases are sent in by the CMN members mentioned, but they may have been edited by Pass It On! staff for style, consistency, or length. The materials have not been reviewed. In addition to the sources listed, many recordings are available at local independent children’s book and record stores.
Chock full of songs for dancing, laughing, hugging, and singing for ages two to eight, Parents’ Choice Recommended Love Bug! is Val Smalkin’s follow-up to her Parents’ Choice Approved Sing! Sing! Sing!…and Dance, which followed on the heels of her Parents’ Choice Fun Stuff CD, A Gentle Halloween. Three of the twelve songs on Love Bug! are traditional children’s songs; the others were written, arranged, and performed by Val with the addition of Mark Stocker on keyboards and Chris Savage on drums at 4:30 Entertainment Studios in Baltimore, Maryland. The 32-page downloadable Love Bug! Songbook (& Activities for Early Childhood) is available with the purchase of each CD. It contains lead sheets and lesson plans for all twelve songs…surely a “go to” item for last-minute teaching plans or rainy day activities.
Val was inspired to write Love Bug! because of the Saturday night family dances she attended as a child, and because she noticed in her performances that there is nothing children like more than dancing with Mom, Dad, GrandMom, GrandDad, Auntie, Uncle, or any other caregiver.
Physical CDs and downloadable files are available at Small Kin Music, Kidzmusic, CD Baby, Amazon, and Songs for Teaching.
Margaret Bernstein / Azalea Blossom
Songs from SAFE Through the Arts
Songs from SAFE Through the Arts is a compilation of original songs, which Margaret Bernstein wrote specifically for the SAFE Through the Arts bullying prevention program. She was inspired to write the songs and create the program because she knew how strongly music can be as a force for positive change. The songs are all written around three key components of the program—Self-Affirmation, Financial Literacy, and Education of Non-violence—and are geared towards four and five year olds.
All the songs have accompanying lessons as part of the SAFE Through the Arts program but also stand alone as inspirational children’s songs. In the program, the songs are “sung” by sixteen unique puppet characters who represent the cultural diversity of New York City public schools. The artists that sing/play these characters are Margaret Bernstein, Will Stone, Pyeng Threadgill, Faith Ahmed, Nicolai Moderbacher, and Barb Morrison. Available on CD Baby.
Rock & Roll Party
Wayne’s newest album will be released in late March 2017. The album features sixteen rock ’n’ roll songs for kids aged two and older. Wayne has been singing all these songs in classrooms and concerts for years, so they are all kid-tested! In addition to the ten original songs (many of them co-written with groups of children), there are kid-friendly versions of songs by Aerosmith, The Who, George Thorogood, and John Lee Hooker. Producer Safety Mouse has enlisted the help of several professional Boston-area rock ’n’ roll musicians to make sure that the songs really rock out, and they do!
Rock & Roll Party is available on Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby, and waynepotash.com.
Charlotte Thistle / Miss Charlotte
A Spoonful of Songs
Welcome to a world where colorful adventures lie around every corner—where the itsy bitsy spider isn’t the only one to climb up the waterspout and classic children’s songs are reimagined in new and exciting ways.
In the world of Miss Charlotte’s award-winning children’s CD, A Spoonful of Songs, you’ll find a collection of twenty-one unique tunes young children can enjoy with teachers and parents. From nursery rhymes and traditional children’s songs from around the world, to creative originals penned by Miss Charlotte and her friends, this collection is an eclectic collection of classic, redone, and brand-new tunes that will help you get little ones engaged in music at home or in the classroom.
So get playful with a rhythmic rap version of “The Three Little Pigs,” or sing your heart out with the soulful “I’m Gonna Let My Mommy Spin Me Around.” Winner of a 2016 Parents’ Choice Silver Honor, A Spoonful of Songs is also a great way to keep the kids amused on road trips!
Kayte Deioma / Auntie Kayte
Rufus the Unicorn and other Upside-Down Fairytale Songs
Auntie Kayte’s new album is full of irresistibly catchy original songs that use the power of music and words to plant seeds of self-confidence, creative thinking, responsibility, and social consciousness in kids from pre-school through grade school. Auntie Kayte enchants children in the manner of Mary Poppins with a voice that transitions easily from high-energy reggae and calypso to folk ballads and even a marching band.
Inspired by conversations with her nephew and nieces, Auntie Kayte wrote songs to give a unique spin to classic storybook characters that relate them to real life issues. We’re introduced to smart princesses, responsible cowboys, pirates with families, and an identity-challenged unicorn. The joyfully entertaining songs create opportunities to talk with kids about appropriate consequences, being happy with who you are, and playing with people who are different from you. We learn to start the day in a good mood, practice the art of saying “I’m Sorry,” discover the value of a rainy day, learn some funny “Good Old Words” and laugh ourselves healthy and happy with “Giggly You and Me.” Teaching and discussion notes and related exercises are available to download from the website.
The CD is available at www.auntiekayte.com as well as on CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes and Songs for Teaching.
John Cullimore / Chibi Kodama
Between Main Street and Neverland
The result of a crazy, roller coaster year, Between Main Street and Neverland is the soundtrack of how John’s family lived and loved while breaking through walls of fear; questioning beliefs no matter how frightening; dealing with trauma, criticism, anxieties; and searching for who they really are. They learned together as a family to let love, and NOT fear, have its way. John says, “Share our story. We want you to dance with us, look in the mirror, smile, laugh, and know that it’s okay to be you. We want to give you this energetic and non-stop album, full of big guitars, beats, synths, and fun melodies so you can rock out with your family too.”
Purchase at www.chibikodamamusic.com
Dana Cohenour / Dana
Dana's Best Jump & Jam Tunes
After taking a break from recording to raise her son, Jack, Dana is pleased to be jumping back into creating music for children once again. Her previous five albums have won seventeen national awards and wide acclaim from critics, educators, and families.
Dana’s Jump & Jam Tunes is filled with hoppin’ and boppin’ fun for children ages one to seven. Using clever lyrics, groovy beats, and funny characters, Dana and her talented band introduce young children to numerous musical styles including jazz, rock, country, pop, and bluegrass. Perfect for the toddler and preschool set, the songs engage little imaginations and inspire kids to literally ”jump” right into the music.
The collection includes counting songs (“Legs” and a bluegrass spin of “Five Green and Speckled Frogs”), a Mexican freeze dance (“Jumping Beans”), a rock ’n’ roll “Wiggle Workout,” an egg shake (“Shakin’ Things Up”), and of course, a jazzy jumping jive dance (“Jump and Jive”). Children will laugh and sing along to Dana’s story songs (“Barnyard Hoedown” and “Fish Tale”), help make the planet smile with her catchy “Do My Part,” and bring out the pots and pans in “Grandma’s Kitchen Band.” Kids won’t be able to resist moving like all kinds of animals in “Follow the Leader,” and then finally wind down with the gentle musical hug that is “I Love Mommy.”
Available at iTunes, CDBaby, and danasmusicplayground.com. Pre-order available now at bandcamp.com (official release date: April 15, 2017).
Kate Carpenter / “Mrs. Kate” Carpenter
I Think I Can
All aboard! Hop on the train with “Mrs. Kate” Carpenter as she and her young singers present twelve catchy new songs for kids aged five to twelve. Kate says:
“I had a whole bunch of new motivational songs for kids and had begun work on producing a CD, but needed a theme to pull it all together. While visiting with friends on my tour, I was challenged to write a train song for a jam. I said, ‘I Think I Can!’ and the song nearly wrote itself and became the title track for this high-energy project.
“Many songs have a special story: Everyone loves the song about ‘Forgetful Ned.’ He is a real person! When Ned was in elementary school, he was on the NanaTunes vocal team. Every time he would come to practice or the recording sessions, he would leave something behind. I wrote the song about him. He loves it. I wrote ‘Let’s Exercise’ to motivate kids to spend less time on their screens. Check out the exciting music video we made of this song, featuring kid gymnasts. ‘Be a Friend’ is a powerfully emotional song that will encourage kids to reach out to the friendless and stamp out bullying. Our daughter, Teri, who knows what it’s like to be the new kid in class, challenged me to write that song. Guidance counselors are excited about using this song to motivate kids.”
Purchase at www.MrsKate.com. Also available on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, and Songs for Teaching.