Compact Discs for Children

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    Compact Discs for Children
    and Videos:

    "Muppets from Space"
    Various artists
    Check it out!
    The Muppets are embracing their points of origin with the music on the soundtrack to "Muppets from Space." Sure, there are new characters, including Pepe, but even they dig into the 1970s groove on these 11 songs. George Clinton of Parliament has updated "Flashlight" for the esteemed new Muppet, and the Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing" is a great fit, with its fetching riffs and memorably sweet lyrics. It's a cliche to point out recordings that kids and parents will love equally, but these tracks are truly meant for both camps.

    "Cartoon Medley"
    Various artists
    Check it out!
    Just as cartoons got their charge from music after the 1930s (when Carl Stalling arrived at Warner Bros. studios), so too have the animated wonders been invigorated newly by the Cartoon Network in the 1990s. "Cartoon Medley" catches up with the art of cartoon music with a mix of Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, the Jetsons, and others. The music races by with just enough energy to spin the head.

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    "A Child's Celebration of Classical Music"
    Various artists
    Check it out!
    The goal to educate and tickle the child's brain with classical music comes with some stuffiness, but this collection proves that the music can indeed be fun. David Bowie and Meryl Streep color Prokofiev and Ravel with their starry appearances, and the presence of the Boston Pops doesn't hurt a bit in the bright-and-brassy department. The performances are first-rate, and although the program of music isn't as critically acclaimed as, say, the collection "Beethoven for Babies," the set is still compelling and sure to please the kids.

    "Funny 50's & Silly 60's: The Rebops Do Novelty Oldies"
    The Rebops
    Check it out!
    The Rebops favor goofy and classic rock you might hear on a classy AM radio station devoted to the retro and nostalgia crazes. They juice up their selected songs enough so that they're a blast to hear, and when listening to this collection, one can imagine the tunes wafting across a pool deck as gleeful kids jump precipitously into the water. "Surfin' Bird" in particular is a standout, scrambling words so kids get the thrill of language play and good solid rhythms. Great for kids of varying ages, "Funny 50's and Silly 60's" is perfect for beating the heat.

    "Lunarock"
    Sailor Moon and the Scouts
    REVIEW
    The stories behind the hit television series "Sailor Moon" are best when told with music. On this collection of songs from the series, you hear Sailor Moon declaring her love for Tuxedo Man in a remake of the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand," pushing the Japanese show beyond both the nation's language and its musical traditions. But rest assured, there are some heartening Japanese pop episodes on this follow-up to 1996's "Sailor Moon: Songs from the Hit TV Series," as well as an abundance of tales that continue from the TV to the stereo.

    "2BA Master: Music from the Hit TV Series"
    Pokemon
    REVIEW
    The Pokemon craze is in full swing! And the Pocket Monsters, from Pikachu to his buddies and his adversaries, sound great. This selection of music from the popular TV series mixes dance club beats and a variety of moods ranging from video game to theme park ambiance. With lyrical content that's suitable for kids of all ages, this CD comes with a cool foldout Pokemon poster and a batch of tunes that will debut in the fall on the upcoming "Pikachu's Jukebox." Amaze the neighbors with an advance ride on the musical Pokeman wave!

    "Night Songs & Lullabies"
    Kim Scanlon
    REVIEW
    Kim Scanlon's compositions show an understated swing dynamic that, while entertaining, serves to enhance the late-night family suitability of this CD. A new mother herself, Scanlon sings with the feeling of a folkie but keeps the music solidly jazzy. The mix of styles is sweetly lyrical, touching in its delivery of child-centric themes. "Night Songs" is an unassuming set and one that will please new parents, old parents, and even the young ones.

    "Tarzan: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack"
    Phil Collins and Mark Mancina
    REVIEW
    The soundtrack to Disney's "Tarzan," one of the animation magnate's best recent films, is exciting and filled with African percussion surrounded by enough orchestral and pop music to make even the most committed Phil Collins fan happy. Kids will love the overall feeling of the CD as much as they will the five Collins tunes. Sure, there's the usual dramatic conflict--intimated here with rhythmic foreshadowing--but it's all part of the musical ride, which is to say that this will be a hit with kids who've caught the film.

    "African Lullaby"
    Various artists
    REVIEW
    Children can learn more about the world from music than you might think. "African Lullaby" is an amazing feat, teaching a wealth of knowledge about the diverse continent, from Mali's folksy guitar traditions to West African mbira melodies. By now Ladysmith Black Mambazo is instantly recognizable, and here they offer a beautiful piece woven with warm, midrange vocals. They unlock the door to 13 tracks of pure African familial bliss, from odes to mothering to lovely depictions of child experiences as described in African mythology.

    "Cool Songs for Cool Kids"
    Daddy a Go Go
    REVIEW
    Ever wonder what a young father's take on parenting via rock & roll would sound like? With "Cool Songs for Cool Kids" you can have a listen. Daddy a Go Go pulls together Walt Brewer, formerly of the swing-rock band Jody Grind, and some other young fathers; together they take up tunes such as the Scooby Doo theme and "Go Speed Racer" the way anyone with an ear for three-chord pop would like. Their music is energetic and expresses a considerable fondness for kids, parenting, and the art of song.

    "Really Rosie"
    Carole King
    LISTEN It's hard to resist calling "Really Rosie" the greatest children's album of all time--so why fight it? "Rosie" rocks! The soundtrack from a 1975 television special, it combines the talents of Carole King (who wrote all of the music and sings all of the songs) and Maurice Sendak (who created the characters and wrote all of the lyrics) and tells the tale of budding-star Rosie, a legend in her own mind. Never talking down to kids, the album amuses, entertains, and educates.

  • "Songs to Grow On for Mother and Child"
    Woody Guthrie
    LISTEN Few adult performers have forged as rich a bond with children as Guthrie--something that is evident not only on this record, but also on "Mermaid Avenue," the fanciful album of Guthrie interpretations that Billy Bragg and Wilco released in 1998.

  • "Sings for Children"
    Leadbelly
    LISTEN Though he did time as a young man, Leadbelly put together a remarkable catalog of timeless recordings later in life. "Sings for Children," a collection released this year, takes the bulk of its substance from three previously recorded albums, which makes it a kind of greatest-hits compilation.

  • "Children's Concert at Town Hall"
    Pete Seeger
    LISTEN Pete Seeger, an old Guthrie accomplice, wholeheartedly embraced children's music early in his recording career and returned to it repeatedly. "Children's Concert" displays Seeger's performance skills splendidly. And check out his groundbreaking "Birds, Beasts, Bugs & Fishes Little & Big: Animal Folk Songs," "For Kids and Just Plain Folks," and "Stories & Songs for Little Children" to keep the party going.

  • "Lulie the Iceberg"
    Jeffrey Stock, Yo-Yo Ma, Pamela Frank, Paul Winter
    LISTEN Based on an original story written by Her Imperial Highness Princess Hisako of Takamodo, "Lulie the Iceberg" is a children's music tale like no other. The story of Lulie, as he floats through varying environmental scenes around the world, is told by actor Sam Waterston, who is accompanied by superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma. All told, it's a great way to teach your children about the environment while introducing them to classical music.

  • "My Best Friend Is a Salamander"
    Peter Himmelman
    LISTEN Much like Carole King, Himmelman is best known for his introspective songwriting. On "My Best Friend Is a Salamander," he takes a cue from King's classic "Really Rosie": though the songs can be silly, they never talk down to kids. "Dear parents," Himmelman writes in the liner notes, "This album wasn't intended to lull your kids to sleep[--]there are several on the market that can do that." Perhaps frustrated with what he found available when he became a father, Himmelman made this album not only for his kids, but for yours as well.

  • "Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace"
    Soundtrack, John Williams, cond. Composer
    LISTEN The narration is stilted, the audio taken from the film feels forced, and the story--as told here--doesn't (can't) convey the grandeur of George Lucas's visually lush film. But it's still "Star Wars" and any child learning to read will want to read along with the story of 10-year-old Anakin Skywalker, who more than holds his own with the other heroes of "The Phantom Menace."

  • "All Time Greatest Hits" Harry Nilsson
    REVIEW
    Though he died in 1994, Harry Nilsson's music lives on and continues to draw new listeners--including kids who've heard "The Puppy Song" on the soundtrack of "You've Got Mail" or whose parents share the singer/songwriter's animated classic "The Point!" with them. Nilsson's "All Time Greatest Hits" is packed with songs that your children may already know ("Everybody's Talkin'") and that they'll love getting to know ("Coconut," "Good Old Desk").

  • "The Look of Love" Burt Bacharach
    REVIEW
    As for Bacharach, the way to go is with the box set "The Look of Love." It may be a little more extensive than what you were thinking, but it is the best value. Packed with lots of great tunes, you and yours can bond over the guy who serenades Mike Myers and Elizabeth Hurley on the top of the bus in "Austin Powers," which we know kids really love.

  • "Keep a Secret" The Mysteries of Life
    REVIEW
    A band of more recent vintage than the others on this list, the Mysteries of Life are a contemporary pop group who love melody. Their beautiful songs have an innocence that appeals to kids and adults alike, and singer Jake Smith has a voice that's easy to sing along with.

  • "Do It A Cappella" Various artists
    REVIEW
    The soundtrack from a PBS special that aired in 1990, "Do It A Capella" features a number of classic songs ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight," "Higher and Higher," "Under the Boardwalk," "Up on the Roof") performed by groups such as Take 6, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the Persuasions, the Mint Juleps, Rockapella, and more. It's an amazing record to sing along to ("a cappella" means to sing without musical accompaniment).

  • "Greatest Hits" Buddy Holly
    REVIEW
    Amazon.com's Pop editor Rickey Wright says that it was Holly who "all but single-handedly introduced the concept of sweetness to rock & roll." That makes this collection--which contains "Peggy Sue," "That'll Be the Day," and 16 other favorites--a natural for parents who want to introduce their kids to some classic rock & roll.

  • "On the Good Ship Lollipop" The Persuasions REVIEW
    It's surprising to find out that this is the first children's album from classic vocal group the Persuasions. Their sound is a natural for children, and though their entire catalog might be appropriate--see the "Do It A Capella" compilation (above) and their album "Chirpin'" for a taste--this CD is probably the best place to start.

  • "VeggieTunes 2" "VeggieTales" REVIEW
    Collecting the music from four collections of "VeggieTales," the popular Christian-lite animated series, this CD may even be better than the videotapes. That's because the real fun of the show--and the real depth of its creators--is revealed in the music.

  • "The Rock-a-Bye Collection, Vol. 2" Tanya Goodman Sykes REVIEW
    Fans of Nicolette Larson's "Sleep Baby Sleep" should love this album, one in a series of collections of original lullabies. Clocking in at 50 minutes, with not a jarring moment among them, this album could put anyone to sleep (be careful not to play it in the car!) and should soothe most any savage beast.

  • RUGRATS VIDEOS

    VIDEO: "A Baby's Gotta Do What a Baby's Gotta Do" REVIEW

  • VIDEO: "Angelica Knows Best" REVIEW

  • VIDEO: "Bedtime Bash" REVIEW

  • VIDEO: "Diapered Duo" REVIEW

  • VIDEO: "Chuckie the Brave" REVIEW

    Click on title to REVIEW the following:

  • "Arthur and Friends: The First Almost Real Not Live CD"
  • "Radio Disney Kid Jams" Hanson, Backstreet Boys, Trio, and others
  • "Dexter's Laboratory: The Musical Time Machine" Soundtrack, various artists
  • "Jump On It" The Sugarhill Gang
  • "Popular Favorites 1976-1992/Sand In the Vaseline" Talking Heads
  • "Kind of Blue" Miles Davis
  • "Catch a Fire" Bob Marley
  • "Shake Sugaree" Taj Mahal
  • "Shakin' a Tailfeather" Taj Mahal
  • "Hot! Hot! Hot! Dance Songs" Elmo and the Sesame Street Gang
  • "Sing-Along Travel Songs" Elmo sing Beatles
  • "The Best of Elmo"
  • "Elmo Says Boo" Sesame Street year-round Halloween hoot is a gem

    LibraryPreviews editor Alan Campbell's choices for children:

    "Singin' in the Bathtub" John Lithgow
    "Teletubies: The TV Album"
    "You're Nice People You Are" NRBQ
    "Disney's Jungle Book" Various Artists
    "Always Your Pal, Gene Autry" Gene Autry
    "Counting Games and Rhythms for the Little Ones" Ella Jenkins
    "Mary Poppins" Orginal Soundtrack
    "Lady and the Tramp" Original Soundtrack
    "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" Original Soundtrack

  • The positive effects of listening to good music during a child's early development are now recognized. Musical rhythms, frequencies and structure help to stimulate a child's mind.

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