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Archive for the ‘Stephanie Yue’ Category

nurserySOUNDTRACK: FRANK FAIRFIELD-Tiny Desk Concert #445 (May 29, 2015).

frankFrank Fairfield and friends Tom Marion (who plays mandolin on the third song) and Zac Sokolow (on guitar) play old-timey music (marches, polkas and mountain tunes).  Fairfield plays banjo and plucked cello (and apparently fiddle, although not here).

The first song “Tres Piedras” is an upbeat instrumental.  The second song “I Ain’t A Goin’ To Weep No More” was written by Harry von Tilser whose brother wrote “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

The final song “Campanile De Venecia/Sharpshooters March” has an overwhelming Italian feel (that mandolin, I gather).  I like that Fairfield yells “take it, Tom” so that Marion will play a lengthy mandolin solo on the for the final song.  There’s also a “traditional” Italian melody in the song that I know more from cartoons than elsewhere.

The songs feel like they leaped out of a 78 record (even Fairfield’s voice seems suitably “old” on “Weep” (although it appears that they were up playing late last night so he may not quite be up to par).

This was a fun Tiny Desk by an artist I’d never encounter anywhere else.

[READ: January 21, 2015] Nursery Rhyme Comics

This is a collection of Nursery Rhymes as drawn primarily by First Second artists.

The 50 nursery rhymes includes here are the traditional rhymes which remain unchanged.  So this was an opportunity for these artists to draw interesting visuals to accompany the traditional stories.  Some artists stayed traditional, while others went in a totally new direction.

It was fun to see that while I knew most of the nursery rhymes, there were quite a few that I didn’t know.

I always wanted to get a  collection of nursery rhymes for my kids when they were younger, and I feel like I never got one that would have been as satisfying as this one. (more…)

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catsSOUNDTRACK: THE OKEE DOKEE BROTHERS-“Lucy and Tighty” (2010).

okeetakeEven though the Okee Dokee Brothers are primarily about getting outdoors, not all of their songs fall into that category.  Like this one, which is a cute song about two people who are very different but who still like each other (and fall in love).  See the chorus:

‘Cause opposites attract, opposites attract
In the end baby, opposites attract

But what attracted me to the song was the fun (and perhaps easy rhyme scheme) of the verses.  I loved the way the first verse started

Lefty Lucy loved to lolly lackadaisically
But Righty Tighty went By the book alphabetically
So when Lefty Lucy loosened up unapologetically
Righty Tighty tightened up rather introvertedly

Musically, the beats are simple and pronounced, and while the songs starts simply, with just guitar and banjo (and drums, of course), it builds through each verse and chorus, complete with backing vocals.  I loved the fun of the names “Lucy and Tighty” (which may be immediately obvious or may not) and the wordplay in the second verse two.

On the dance floor, they were known for
Having moves that expressed themselves aesthetically
Lucy was groovy, dancing to a different drummer energetically
Tighty politely followed the right steps predictably
Solo, they were so-so, but together they’d be better exponentially

And if all this weren’t fun enough, the video is also fun, done with mirrors (which you can see in the background), it makes me wonder if they are leaning in the right direction or not.  The song even ends up with a fun New Orleans style stomp at the end.  This will help get your kids into the Avett Brothers for sure.

[READ: April 2014] Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye #5

After raving about the first four books in the Guinea PIg series, we received a huge surprise when Colleen AF Venable sent us a copy of Book #5 with an autograph and an inscription and everything.  And I can’t believe that I forgot to write about it!  So here it is two years later (!) and Book 6 is already out and I’m only writing about book 5.  Shame.  On.  Me.

So I re-read the book recently and decided it was about time I showed Colleen Af Venable a little more love.  Because even if she hadn’t sent us this cool book, it would still be hilarious.

As this one opens, recent pet shop hire Viola is trying to teach Mr Venezi the pet shop owner, the names of the animals (he’s hilariously awful at it–he calls the hamster a mini koala, a short ferret and a tiny dragon).  Viola is very good with the animals and plans to buy a few of them to bring home (so she can dress them up even more, which they secretly love).

Hamisher (the hamster) and our star Guinea Pig, Sasspants (the best name for a character, ever) are talking about what kind of owners they might want.  Hamisher hopes that their owners will live in the same state so that maybe they can see each other still.  They talk about the kind of owner they’d want (their standards are very high).  Then Hamisher notices he is standing on a cat.  Charlotte (the owner of the store next door) has a cat (whose name is Tummytickles) which sleeps in their window.  A lot.  Sasspants explains that Tummytickles is a heavy, heavy sleeper.  Tummtickles wakes up enough to say that that’s not his real name but falls asleep before he can ever say what it is.

We focus on Tuimmytickles because he is the main crisis in this story–he has gone missing!  Which is pretty impressive for a cat who barely moves an inch in a week.  How will Sasspants and Hamisher find him?  Especially when…Sasspants has just been purchased! (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RALPH’S WORLD-“Red Banana” (2006).

There’s something about kid’s music.  It’s simple, typically, and it can be either cloying or fun. But it’s a really fine line that stands between the two.  Ralph Covert of Ralph’s World manages to keep the line in view and stays on the fun side.  Ralph has a rock history (with The Bad Examples) but I think his kids music is much better and much more interesting.

“Red Banana” is a simple folk song with a wonderfully catchy chorus (“What am I gonna do if my mom finds out?”).  The verses are fun as well.  “Who ever heard of a red banana? Have you ever heard of a red banana?  I’ve never heard of a red banana.” “Who ever heard of a green gorilla?”  (Who is eating the red banana, of course.) 

Ralph knows silly, and he knows how to make silly catchy.  This whole Ralph’s World album, Green Gorilla Monster & Me is a lot of fun.

[READ: December 2010] Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye

My kids love books (surprise).  And Clark has been reading a lot by himself.  So I’ve been getting him some graphic novels for his reading pleasure.  I stumbled upon this series at the library.  It’s a little too much for him to read by himself–he read it but I know he didn’t get all of what is going on.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed the first book very much and when I learned there were four more I was thrilled!

This series is clever and funny.  And while the kids may not get all the jokes, I sure do, and I think they’re really funny.  And, there are more than enough jokes (visual and verbal) for them to enjoy and for me to enjoy reading to them.

There’s a Guinea Pig (with the best name–Sasspants) who lives in a pet store.  The pet store is owned by Mr Venezi, the most incompetent pet store owner (and business owner, frankly) ever.  Mr Venezi loves his animals but not only does he not know how to take care of them, he doesn’t even know what most of them are called.  Their tanks are mislabeled and often times animals are simply in the wrong places.  Obviously in real life this would be a disaster, but these animals are funny and clever and roll with the problems quite easily.

In the first book, the hamster named Hamisher reads the sign for Sasspants’ tank which says Guinea PI.  Naturally Hamisher thinks that Sasspants is a detective.  The story behind this name change is quite funny.  Sasspants seems to be the only animal with not only the correct name but also a name made out of sticky tiles rather than tape (one assumes this is because Sasspants is very smart and an extensive reader (as well as writer, rappeller and, eventually sleuth)).  When the G from Guinea Pi”g” falls off and goes missing, well, it’s time for our reluctant Guinea Pig to get to sleuthing. 

There are currently four books in the series and I can only hope that more are on the way soon!  All of the illustrations are by Stephanie Yue.  And they are wonderful (it is odd since Venable is a wonderful artist that she uses someone else, but hey, spread the wealth!) (more…)

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