Chicken Spaghetti Book Giveaway: Ralph's World Rocks!

Do you like Ralph? We do—he's funny. Who am I talking about? Ralph Covert, the musician behind the Ralph's World CDs for children. Ralph, who also has a rock band (the Bad Seeds), leaped into the kids' music biz in 2001. The picture book I'm giving away contains the lyrics to 12 rockin' Ralph's World songs and includes a CD. The lyrics of each song get a sweetly goofy full-page illustration (by Charise Mericle Harper), too.

Since it's also Poetry Friday, I'm going to post an excerpt from the lyrics to "We Are Ants," so that readers who don't know Ralph can get a little taste:

from "We Are Ants," by Ralph Covert

We are ants, ants in your pants,
Ants in the kitchen, ants who love to dance,
Ants who sing and go to the moon,
Why are we marching? We are ants!

If you're interested in the book/CD drawing, leave a comment. We'll put the names in a hat later this evening, and come up with a winner. The deadline is 8 p.m., tonight—Friday, July 25th. Once the winner's name is picked, I'll email him, her, or them, and get the mailing address. (Don't leave it in the comments, for your protection.)

To read about more poetry on the children's book blogs today, see the roundup at A Year of Reading.

Update: We have a winner! Gresham gets the book and CD. Congratulations.

Poetry Friday: Cowboy Songs for Kids

Singing cowboy songs is a good way to start the morning. Head over yonder to the Diamond R Ranch web site to sing along with "I Love to Ride My Pony." How can you resist a song with the lyrics "Yippee-yi, yippee-yay, yippee-yoho!"? I couldn't. Children will also find online exhibits, games, coloring pages, and recipes there. (And if the kiddos are still in the mood for western songs, track down "Always Your Pal, Gene Autry," a fun CD much loved in these parts a while back. Oh, and Asleep at the Wheel's Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys.)

The Diamond R Ranch is part of the online home of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, in Oklahoma City. The museum sponsors the annual Western Heritage Awards; the latest winner in the "juvenile book" category was Journey to San Jacinto, a novel for 8 to 12 year olds by Melodie A. Cuate. Southern Living said, “To teach kids history, try time travel. Cuate, a veteran schoolteacher, spins the tale of a seventh-grader Hannah, her brother Nick, and her friend Jackie. They are intrigued by a mysterious trunk belonging to Hannah’s new history teacher. When they open it, something magical happens, and they travel back in time to the Alamo, where the famous siege is underway.”

Stop by the corral at Becky's Book Reviews for a roundup of other blog posts on poetry and related matters.  

Poetry Friday: Songbooks

Robert Hass was U.S. Poet Laureate from 1995 to 1997; during that time, he wrote weekly newspaper columns about poetry, which were later collected in the book Poet's Choice: Poems of Everyday Life.  Most of poetry in the book is for grown-ups; you'll find works by Galway Kinnell, Jane Kenyon, Gary Snyder, Langston Hughes, and many others.

But there's also a thoughtful short essay on building poetry collections for young children. Hass first talks about Mother Goose, mentioning that "part of the pleasure of the poems is that they are also a kind of archaeology of the language." He goes on to say,

So a child's library begins with Mother Goose, and, I think, right next to it should be a songbook. For a couple of reasons. One is that it's as much a pleasure for parents and children to sing as to read together, and another is that there is more American folklore in the songs and so it adds our own historical experience to the English world of Mother Goose. And the logic of the songs belongs to the same magical world.

I haven't seen the songbook that Hass recommends—Go In and Out the Window, published by Henry Holt and put together by the Metropolitan Museum of Art—but, with some sixty songs,  it ought to be well-worth seeking out. I have read Poet's Choice and highly recommend it.

You'll find links to other poetry-related posts at the blog HipWriterMama, who is rounding up the rhyme talk among the children's book bloggers today.

Merry Christmas Music

We've been reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, and I went searching for another good Xmassy read and came home with...the story of a father who died at sea while delivering Christmas trees. Not so merry.

So, instead, let's turn to music. Terry Teachout, the Wall Street Journal theater critic lists his favorite Christmas records at his blog, About Last Night. To chime in with a suggestion, I'll mention the compilation disc "Soul Christmas," with the excellent "This Christmas," sung by Donny Hathaway.

"Open Season": The Music

I don't usually talk about children's movies here, although my family and I see a few from time to time. Last summer's "Cars" was cute. But I had no idea until I heard a tune on the radio that Paul Westerberg had done 9 of 12 tracks on the CD for the new animated film "Open Season." I'll leave it to Rotten Tomatoes to round up the critical takes on the flick, but Paul Westerberg! Dude, I'm so psyched. The track I heard, "Love Me in the Fall," is so rockin' and reminds me a lot of the Replacements, Westerberg's old band. Talking Heads' "Wild Wild Life" is on the soundtrack, too. Junior is going to be so embarrassed when his mom starts dancing in the aisles at the movie theater.

Singing in the Back Seat

"Hi - Hi! We're your Weather Girls - Ah-huh
And have we got news for you - You better listen!"

Astute musicologists will recognize the above lyrics as, no, not a Poetry Friday offering, but as the opening words to  "It's Raining Men," the enduring disco anthem by the Weather Girls. Said anthem is my son's favorite song, along with J. Lo's "Let's Get Loud." He requested the tunes on a CD after he heard the first one on an oldies station. (Is it Junior's interest in barometric pressure? The dramatic lightning crash that starts the song? I have no idea.)  I used to like "It's Raining Men" when I heard it once a year, but to say I have now grown weary of the song is an understatement. I'm not so happy with "Let's Get Loud," either. No offense, Miss Lopez.

What to do (besides losing the CD)? Well, I am going to go check out the recommendations on the following children's music blogs. I have mentioned a couple of these before, but that was pre-Weather Girls. "God Bless Mother Nature/ She's a single woman, too." (See? The song is so stuck in my head.)

The Lovely Mrs. Davis Tells You What to Think
Children's Music That Rocks

Between the three of them, I know I'll get some ideas for new music that Junior will enjoy, too.

The Whole Shack Shimmies

Yo, music lovers! Get ready for those summer road trips and stock up on some tunes.

The Lovely Mrs. Davis reviews Dan Zanes's latest CD, and it sound like a must-buy. You'll get plenty of other recommendations for good, non-sappy music for kids at The Lovely Mrs. Davis Tells You What to Think. Don't miss her post on boys and reading, too.

Meanwhile over at Children's Music That Rocks, Warren Truitt says that  the best bar band in the country is the Rhodes Tavern Troubadours, who play music for children. He reviews the group's CD "Turn It Up, Mommy!" Yeah! Another one for the gotta-get list. By day the Kids' Music critic is a librarian at the Donnell Library Center, in NYC. (As for that  best bar band claim, until I hear the RTTs, I'll have to go with Nashville's own Webb Wilder. Not that I hang out in bars. Any more.  Mom.)

Stop by these two juke joints and say howdy.