Children's Music Reviews by John Wood

by John Wood

One does not bandy about the word “legend” very often in children’s music. Two acts from the Great White North, however, do deserve this accolade. With a combined 50 years of dedication to quality children’s music, television and education, Sharon, Lois & Bram and Fred Penner love their lives’ work, love children and families, and actively seek a better world through music.

In 1992, SL&B reviewed more than 300 songs from 10 albums spanning 14 years to come up with 31 favorite tunes for Great Big Hits 1. Now, 12 years later, the task hasn’t gotten any easier – add in 52 Skinnamarink TV episodes, five more recordings and 400 songs to choose from and what do you get? Well, you get Great Big Hits 2. So how do they make the tough choices?

“We cajole, we trade, we laugh, groan, sing and reminisce,” the artists say in their CD liner notes. Among the songs included in this collection are “Name Game,” “Miss Lucy,” “Waddaly Atcha” and “Who Put the Bomp.” There is also a bonus sing-along track called “Hokey Pokey Karaoke!”

Great Big Hits 2, Sharon, Lois & Bram, Casablanca Kids, 2004; $14.98 CD;

Back after a six-year recording hiatus, Fred Penner has collected some of his favorite family tunes for Sing With Fred. The CD was released in Canada last fall and was honored with a Juno Award for Best Children’s Album.

“One of my greatest joys in life is to see families enjoying their time together and having fun with music,” says Penner, a father of four teenagers. Along with Spanish and French folk tunes, “De Colores” and “Alouette” respectively, are “Over the Rainbow,” “Puff the Magic Dragon,” “You are My Sunshine,” and “Garden Song.”

Sing With Fred, Fred Penner, Casablanca Kids, 2004; $14.98 CD;
– John Wood
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United Parenting Publications, July 2004