Finding Canadian children’s albums in a record store used to be a formidable challenge. But in recent years the domestic children’s recording industry has taken a giant step forward. This season, the pick of a vast crop of children’s discs ranges from an introduction to classical music to an adrenaline-pumping salute to percussion instruments. The Orchestra, a book and record set (MRP Digital, $18.95), is delightfully performed by the Toronto Philharmonia Orchestra and narrated by man-about-the-world Peter Ustinov. Reading from author Mark Rubin’s clear and witty text, Ustinov introduces 28 orchestral instruments and explains such concepts as tempo and harmony.
On the popular music front, folksinger/songwriter Raffi—a perennial favorite with young children—has a strong new album. On Everything Grows (Troubadour, $9.98), musically eclectic Raffi mixes his own new songs about bath time and teddy bears with traditional toe-tappers, including a polka rendition of She'll Be Cornin’ Round the Mountain.
Percussionist and Kids’ Records president William Usher triumphed over all other Canadian children’s recording artists with Drums! (Kids’ Records, $10.98), winner of the 1987 Best Children’s Album Juno Award. Drums! charts the history of popular Western music with a variety of drumming styles—among them, military, rock and calypso. Adults will also find the homage to rhythm infectious.
Also from Kids’ Records are two fine anthologies about peace. Touch a Hand, Make a Friend ($10.98) brings together previously released material from such company artists as Kim and Jerry Brodey and Deborah Dunleavy. Ranging in style from gospel to rock, all of the songs are about love between individuals—and love for the earth. The other album in Kids’ new Peace Pack series, Dreams that Take Flight ($10.98), features both songs and children’s stories read by their authors— including Robert Munsch, who narrates his wistful tale Love You Forever. The Peace Pack albums provide warm and innovative listening material for the whole family.
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