Music Reviews by John Wood

Nettwerk America, in cooperation with VH1’s Save The Music Foundation, has released For the Kids Too, the aptly titled follow-up to 2002’s highly successful and artistically satisfying For the Kids. Artists from the pop and rock world leap into the children’s music field with gusto. The performances are inspired, the original songs burst with focus and imagination, and the cover songs are delightful.

Some of the highlights, and there are many, include: Australian artist Butterfly Boucher’s “I’m Different,” which is defiant in a positive self-esteem sort of way; Chicago native Ralph Covert’s “At the Bottom of the Sea”; Zany duo They Might Be Giants’ rock-driven “John Lee Supertaster”; and Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell’s beautifully crafted and wistfully performed original “Catch the Moon.”

Proceeds from the CD’s sales benefit the Lili Claire Foundation, which helps people born with neurogenetic disorders. A good cause all around!

For the Kids Too, Various Artists, Nettwerk America, 2004; $14 CD; 800-764-3472,

The beloved children’s book Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel was written over 60 years ago by Virginia Lee Burton and inspired by the activities of her own children. Composer Stephen Simon raptly listened to the story as a child, shared it with his own children and recently put the story to music. In the vein of Peter and the Wolf and Carnival of the Animals, this narrated symphony tells the triumphant story of Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel Mary Anne (nice name for a shovel) as they compete with the changing technology and advent of gasoline and electric machinery.

An informative and informative 24-page booklet is a major plus in the package put together by executive producer Bonnie Ward Simon. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel should be around for many a year.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Magic Maestro Music, 2004; $16.98 CD; 800-HEAR-MAGIC,

– John Wood

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