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Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Neighborhood Sing-Along, by Nina Crews. Greenwillow, Harper. 2011. $19.99 ages 3 and up

"Do your ears flip-flop?
Can you use them for a mop?
Are they stringy at the bottom?
Are they curly at the top?
Can you use them for a swatter?
Can you use them for a blotter?
Do your ears flip-flop?"

One of those things we loved to do when I was teaching kindergarten was SING out loud and proud! I love to sing; but I don't have a great voice. Kindergarten kids don't care...they just love to sing along; and they love especially old familiar songs. So, we started our days with old favorites and tried to learn at least one new song each week. It meant that the singalongs were quite extended by the time we got to the last week of school; but, we sang with great gusto.

The sound of the language, the rhythm of the music, and the rhyming words helped them as they learned the nuances of communication. Many of those songs I still sing when I visit in classrooms. They are a great distraction from sitting for any length of time, sharing stories and conversation.

In her companion book to The Neighborhood Mother Goose (Greenwillow 2003), Nina Crews gathers together children from her Brooklyn neighborhood and uses their multicultural images to bring a sense of joy and energy to its pages. There are 34 songs, most familiar, in the collection. Each is accompanied by beautiful photographs of children in playgrounds, at home or in neighborhood settings.

Toddlers joyfully splashing in a water park is the delightful photo that shows 'If You're Happy and You Know It". Is anything better than that? A mom and her baby in a rocking chair are partnered with the words for 'Hush, Little Baby'. A pick-up game of baseball is totally apropos for the words to 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game'. Not to mention the look of consternation on the face of Liza as she tries to explain to Henry that he needs to fix the 'hole in the bucket'...

Only a few were unfamiliar to me...sheet music would not have helped. I just need to ask a music teacher for some help with them. Nina Crews offers a note about the songs she chose for this lively and very much appreciated songbook for the young, and old:

"This collection includes folk songs, spirituals, nursery rhymes and pop tunes from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries that delight us to this day. In researching this collection, many sources were used -"

For those who want more, she has included a guide to those sources. It finds space at the back of the book.

Now, get out there and lift your voices in parks, at the beach, and on your neighborhood sidewalks!

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