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Kids' Music Reviews by John Wood

One may appreciate different kinds of art in different yet equal ways. And if that same “one” were a musical archeologist sifting through a Jessica Harper find, he or she would discover treasures that would benefit the whole family: a voice that dances on a bed of world music; songs that gently express universal themes of acceptance and inspiration; and harmonies that are tight, tight, tight!

Parents and teachers alike will appreciate the depth of Harper’s celebration of the visual arts on her new release, Hey Picasso. She shares her own life-long enjoyment of art, and, in doing so, creates new art, and a new appreciation. So the cycle continues through a rich tapestry of childhood experiences, family life and inspiration.

If you’re considering a museum outing with your family some time this winter (or your kids have a museum field trip on their school calendar), have your children give a listen to Hey Picasso. Then encourage them to look at a painting and think what the person trapped in the painting might be feeling or thinking at that particular moment. In this way, you will begin to plumb the depths of Hey Picasso.

Hey Picasso, Jessica Harper, Rounder Records, $14.98 CD; 800-ROUNDER, www.rounder.com.

My children’s music reviewing compatriot, Fred Koch, from the Windy City, Chicago, has compiled Singin’ in the City, a fun-filled amalgamation of talented artists and musical styles that celebrates life and children.

The “first lady of children’s music,” Ella Jenkins, anchors this collection with “Annie My Cooking Friend,” “I Looked Into the Mirror” and “You’ll Sing a Song and I’ll Sing a Song” (performed by Koch). These songs are nicely complemented by Justin Robert’s “Little Raindrop,” Jim Gill’s “Spin Again” and Susan Salidor’s “I’ve Got Peace in My Fingers,” as well as selections from Joel Frankel, Nelson Gill, Tricia Sebastian and Steve Rashid. All in all, an engaging, danceable collection.

Singin’ in the City, Vol. 1 – Children’s Music, Chicago Style, various artists, Chicago Parent Records, $14.95 CD; www.chicagoparent.com.

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