Mar 4, 2015

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Except for a brief stint when I was 16 and had a crush on half of my small town's high school basketball team, I've never really been that into the sport.

So when The Crossover won the 2015 Newbery, I was, hmmm, not that excited. Quite frankly, the only reason I picked it up was because a) it won the Newbery, b) it was a verse novel, so I knew I'd only be giving up a couple hours of my life to suffer through it, and c) I wanted to be able to form a true opinion of it.

Oh, and I guess I also was a tiny bit interested in seeing how basketball and poetry would go together. Because I was pretty sure they would clash big-time.

I was absolutely, totally, completely wrong. Never have I been so quick to try to snatch back my words.

This novel is passionate. And honest. It's powerful. And real.

There aren't many books that I finish and immediately hand over to Mike. But with this one, I did exactly that.

I guess I could stop gushing and actually tell you about the book.

It's about a boy named Josh Bell (or Filthy McNasty, although, as it turns out, he's not crazy about the nickname). He's the star of his junior high basketball team. Or I should say, co-star. He shares the spot with his twin brother, Jordan (i.e., JB). Together they rule the court.

But early in the season, some things happen in Josh's life that he's not happy about. First off, JB gets a girlfriend, and Josh is jealous about the way it changes their relationship. Also, things are not good with their dad. He is Josh and JB's biggest fan and in his younger days was something of a basketball star himself, but his health has always been shaky (hereditary hypertension), and Josh is worried about what it could mean for their family.

I wish more people would read verse novels (maybe they will get a little more attention now with both The Crossover and Brown Girl Dreaming receiving Newbery bling this year). I think people are scared of them. When I praise them, people sometimes ask me this, "Yes, but does it tell a story?"

And to answer that question, let me give you three examples:

First, I mentioned earlier that Mike is now reading The Crossover. A couple of nights ago, I asked him, "Where are you now?" just like I might ask about any other story. I couldn't have asked that if it didn't follow a definite story line.

Second, the characters are unforgettable. The details are presented in a stark, minimalistic way, but they are there and perhaps even more vivid and meaningful because there aren't a lot of descriptions muddling them up. Ask me about JB, and I'll tell you he shaves his head, is a bit insensitive, and loves to make bets (it made me laugh when the boys and their dad challenge three college students to a game of three-on-three, and as they're shooting the opening basket, JB screams, "Loser pays twenty bucks!" He's not one to miss an opportunity). Ask me about their dad, and I'll tell you he's upbeat, stubborn, and has an appetite for Krispy Kreme donuts. He would do anything for his boys . . . except maybe go to the doctor's.

Third, it follows a narrative arc just like any other story: it sets things up, there's some rising action (which may or may not involve an almost broken nose and a suspension), a climax, and a resolution. There were moments when I didn't want to put it down because I was so anxious to find out what was going to happen next.

But it does all of these things while still twisting your heart in a way that only poetry can do. The words are sparse; the emotions are not. One of my favorite images comes after Josh and JB's falling out:
JB looks at me.
I wait for him to say something, anything,
in defense of his only brother.
But his eyes, empty as fired cannons,
shoot way past me.
Five short lines, and yet I'm sure even those of you who haven't read the rest of the book can feel the hurt and regret and tension in those words.

The story opens with a description of dribbling. The description is a visual experience (I really think you have to read this book, not listen to it). Some of the words are enlarged or stretched out or italicized. At first, I was unimpressed, but this type of verse returned periodically throughout the story, and each time it returned, I liked it more and more. I think I've had a rather limited view of what a verse novel could be about (see prejudiced comment above), and this book shattered that view. Verse novels can be about basketball, and it can be just as thrilling as actually sitting on the bleachers (or, perhaps, if you're like me and don't really love the sport, maybe even more so).

The whole book was extremely creative. One thing I really loved was when a big, unfamiliar word was nestled among the rest of the poem ("Did your father and I raise you to be churlish?," for example), and then the following poem was a definition of that word with three examples of how that word might be used ("As in: I wanted a pair / of Stephon Marbury's sneakers / (Starburys), / but Dad called him / a selfish millionaire / with a bad attitude, / and why would I want / to be associated / with such a churlish / choke artist."). Those were some of my very, very favorite poems.

One of the most real conversations in the book happens between Josh and his mom just after Josh completely loses his temper and intentionally hurts JB. She starts out kind and gentle, almost like she knows she can't fly off the handle if she wants him to open up to her ("Can I make you a sandwich? You want a tall glass of orange soda?"), but then she does fly off the handle ("You've been just what? DERANGED? When did you become a thug?"). I cringed a little when she lost her temper, both because I could almost feel Josh closing up with every attack, but also because I've been that mother--the one saying things while at the same time thinking, Don't say that! It's not going to help matters any. It's just so hard to keep your cool when your children are doing completely irrational, stupid things, and I thought Kwame Alexander* captured this conversation very well.

You might remember that one of my main complaints with El Deafo (which won a Newbery Honor this year) was that the climax was poorly executed and resolved (it celebrated deception and irresponsibility, and I couldn't get behind that). The Crossover presented its own host of poor choices and actions, but they weren't the climax. They happened in the middle of the book, with plenty of time for the main characters to learn and grow from them. As it should be.

Okay, remember how I raved and raved (and raved) about Brown Girl Dreaming? Well, when it won a Newbery Honor and The Crossover won the Newbery Medal, I was a little indignant: No way was it better than Brown Girl Dreaming. No way! But . . . here I go retracting my statements again. I still love Brown Girl Dreaming. This book didn't make me love it any less. But, I may have been more impressed with the execution of this book. It was just so original. I just never ever ever expected the game of basketball to be enhanced by poetry. And it totally was. Also, I really love it that this book will have major appeal to both boys and girls. I think boys need to be exposed to the power of poetry, and this book is the perfect introduction for that. This will be joining our collection for sure.

If you haven't read it yet, I hope this review is the push you need to get your hands on a copy.

*Curious about how to pronounce Kwame Alexander's name? Check out this audio clip.

Mar 2, 2015

Raising Readers: Protect Your Readaloud Time

A few nights ago, Aaron and Max were having one of those nights. They were whining about everything, teasing each other mercilessly, and moving like tortoises. In a moment of frustration, Mike said, "That's enough. Just go to bed. Right now."

I was torn. Yes, they were being so ornery. Yes, they should have a consequence. But I really hate punishing by taking away our readaloud time. I told Mike, "Aaron has been at school all day. Then I was gone for most of the evening at a church activity. I don't want to make him go to bed right now. I have only had a total of two hours with him today. If I make him go to bed right now, I will miss that important time to connect with him at the end of the day."

And so I still read to them (we're currently reading Danny the Champion of the World), and they were given a different consequence.

We vary where we read: Sometimes it's on the couch in the living room. Sometimes I climb up the ladder into their bunk bed. Sometimes we burrow deep under the covers in my bedroom. But we rarely vary when we read. (Although, I'm realizing as I'm writing this that we actually missed it last night. It was Max's birthday, and they got up so early, and by the time the party was over and they were ready for bed, it was already past the time when we normally read, and I knew in this instance that sleep was more important).

I understand that nights might not work for everyone as a perfect readaloud time. But I hope if you don't read together at night that there's another time during the day when you do read aloud. And I hope you vigilantly protect that time for these reasons:
  • It opens the door to conversations. (You never know what you'll find out as you're reading. A situation or character in the book can be a springboard to a real-life conversation.)
  • It provides a time to be physically close to one another. (This is really important to me. I don't spend enough time during the day giving hugs or being affectionate, but reading together gives me a natural time and place to have them close beside me.)
  • It creates a unique language and point of reference for your family. (For example, when one of the boys says, "I'd like some Mercy Watson toast please," we know exactly what he means.)
  • It helps everyone calm down. (I have four crazy boys, but I crave quiet. Reading together is one of the only times during the day when I get to have some of that longed-for quiet with them.)
  • It is fun. (I can't count the number of evenings we spend laughing over something that happens in the book we're reading. We have read so many wonderfully entertaining books over the last six years.)
And before you think that Bradley and Clark are missing out on the nightly readaloud time, let me tell you that Mike takes the two of them and reads while I'm reading to the older ones. So that's another reason:
  • It gives them (semi)-alone time with one parent. (I have plans to let Mike read something like Redwall or Prince Caspian to the older two, but so far, I've been fairly selfish with that time because there are so many books I want to read to them! I should also mention that I have my own time with the younger boys every day after lunch.)
Do I dare admit that I'm counting down the days until summer so we can have even more built-in reading time?

Tell me what reading aloud looks like in your family. When do you do it? Where do you do it? What are you reading right now?

Feb 27, 2015

A Game for Bedtime Cleanup

Lately, my kids' rooms have been driving me crazy. None of our kids have their own room. They're split in half: the two older in one room, the two younger in another. Even though most of our toys reside in the basement, somehow their rooms can go from clean and orderly to messy and chaotic in less than 20 minutes.

It's a combination of things: the toys migrate upstairs; they throw their dirty clothes on the floor (even though the laundry basket is an impossible two feet away; Aaron and Max do a lot of projects in their room to keep them away from the baby, so there are always paper scraps and markers and the accursed rainbow loom bands.

Telling my kids to clean their rooms is like telling them to fly to the moon: it feels and looks impossible to them and therefore, it is. Part of the reason it seems insurmountable is because I often wait too many days before having them clean it.

One night, I had an epiphany (it's an epiphany that most of you moms have already had, so don't get too excited): Do a quick cleanup every night before bed.


Given my personality type (more on that in a minute), it's not as if I'd never thought of a nightly cleanup before. I'm a big fan of routines, and they definitely make undesirable tasks easier and less arguable. The thing is, bedtime already has the tendency to drag on mercilessly, and so I'd always avoided adding one more thing to the already lengthy routine.

But one night, I just couldn't take it anymore, and since then, they've been cleaning it up every night before we read stories.

Now before you think, Oh, it was that simple? She should have done that a lot sooner., let me assure you that it has definitely required time, energy, and commitment on the part of Mike and me. If we just told our kids to "Go clean your room," it would never get done.

My solution to this is to stand in the room giving directions (and sometimes becoming an active participant): Now pick up the trash. Here's a bag for it. Fold and put away your clothes. No, those books do not belong under your bed.

That's because I'm an ISTJ (i.e., introverted - sensing - thinking - judging), and for the content of this blog post, emphasis on the S and J. Was that an unexpected jump? I warned you that I was going to talk more about my personality. And I meant it literally.

For the past couple of months, I've been reading and slowly internalizing a book called MotherStyles by Janet P. Penley. She uses the Myers-Briggs test and applies it specifically to mothers: What does a J mother look like? What does she look like when combined with I . . . and S . . . and T (spoiler: she looks like me). What are her strengths? And weaknesses?

It's been quite the eye-opener, and it's making me okay with who I am and also, who I am not.

And one thing I am not is wildly creative or imaginative. When it's time to clean a bedroom, you clean a bedroom . . . quickly, efficiently, methodically. It's not that I'm opposed to the games that would make the task a lot more fun. It's that I never think of them in the first place.

But wait. Isn't this post called "A Game for Bedtime Cleanup"? That's because Mike is not the same type as I am. We share the first three letters, but while I'm a J, he's a P. And that one little letter makes a big difference . . . especially when it comes to having fun.

The first night we instituted the nightly bedroom cleanup, I helped Bradley with his room, and Mike helped Aaron and Max with theirs. It was obvious from the get-go that they were enjoying the task a lot more than we were. And it was because, just like that, on the spot, Mike came up with a game to make the job more fun.

If you've made it this far in this post, then you definitely deserve to learn how to play the game. It's quick, simple, and requires no other props except your hands (and a messy room).

The leader hides a number behind his back (for ex., 5). The cleaners take a guess at the number (for ex., 4! 9!). The leader reveals the number, and then the cleaners have to clean up that number of items (in this example, 5) . . .

. . . Unless (and this is why my kids love this game so much) one of the cleaners happens to choose the correct number, then he doesn't have to pick up anything for that round. Every time one of them guesses the right number, it fuels their energy to play another round. Apparently, being lazy is an addictive prize.

So there you have it: a game invented by an ISTP to complete the routine of an ISTJ.

Do you do a nightly cleanup? How do you make it happen? What's your personality type (and if I know you personally, then don't think I haven't analyzed you already)?

Feb 25, 2015

Henry and the Paper Route by Beverly Cleary

Before I write about this book, can I just go on a little rant?

A couple of weeks before Christmas, I was at Costco and found a collection of fifteen Beverly Cleary books for under $30. I looked it over and noticed two of the Henry books (Henry and the Paper Route and Henry and the Clubhouse) and one of the Ramona books (Ramona Forever) were not included, but at less than $2 per book, I couldn't pass it up. I just thought I would add in the missing books later. No big deal. I might have to pay $7 or $8 for each one, but when I was saving so much on the others, it really didn't matter.

I gave the set to Aaron for Christmas. He loved it. Still loves it. I was congratulating myself on a brilliant purchase.

Then,  a couple of weeks ago, as I was deciding which books to get the boys for Valentine's Day, I decided to fill in a couple of those missing books. I checked on Amazon, but couldn't find the 2007 edition. (<----- The one pictured over there.) No problem. I went to Barnes and Noble. Couldn't find it. I tried The King's English. They didn't have any of them. Finally, I went to Frost's, a local new and used bookstore. They had several Beverly Cleary books in that edition but not the ones I was looking for. So I asked one of the salespeople, and she dropped this bomb:

"That edition is no longer in print."

I felt a little foolish because that's something I should have been able to figure out pretty quickly on my own without running around to three different stores, but I guess I just never expected something that was being sold at Costco two months before to be out of print.

It's not that big of a deal really. I'm sure I can track down those books on ebay or at Saver's (I already found and purchased Ramona Forever), but the main reason I'm irritated is because I don't even like that edition! The updated illustrations clash with the 1950's text. I only went with it because it was convenient and I thought it would be easy to get a matching set. But now I'm going to have the hassle of piecing it together anyway (and I will piece it together because I do want them all to match).

Anyway, on to Henry and the Paper Route. (Since it's one of the ones I'm still searching for, we just checked it out from the library.)

If you've read the other Henry books, you'll already know that Henry is very envious of Scooter's paper route. In fact, in Henry and Beezus, Henry has a chance to fill in for Scooter, and it almost turns disastrous when Ribsy won't leave the newspapers where they've been tossed. Scooter can be insufferably cocky at times, and he's no different in this book, but one day, as he pedals by delivering the papers, he asks Henry if he knows anyone who wants their own paper route. Yes, Henry knows someone. Himself! But Scooter says there's no way that's going to happen since Henry isn't eleven yet.

So Henry sets out to prove that he is a responsible almost-eleven-year-old. In the meantime, he acquires four kittens (one of which he gets to keep), collects the most paper for the school paper drive, folds Scooter's papers for him, and meets the new boy down the street. Oh, and enough time goes by that he actually turns eleven, too. Just when he thinks things he'll finally get the job of his dreams, it slips out of his grasp. And if not for a certain annoying four-year-old (i.e., Ramona Quimby) it would have stayed far out of reach.

Every time I read one of the Henry books, I get a little inkling of how much the world has changed in the nearly 60 years since they were originally published. For example, do you regularly see 11-, 12-, and 13-year-old kids delivering newspapers on weekday afternoons? Because I don't. And I never have in any of the places I've lived. All of the "paper boys" I know are actually adults who nearly run me over when I'm out running early in the morning as they toss the papers from their cars.

And then there's the paper drive held by Henry's school as a way to raise money for a new curtain in the auditorium. Henry diligently sets about collecting all the unwanted paper around the neighborhood (if he accumulates a stack of papers that measures 30 inches high, he gets a prize). What a difference from the fundraiser Aaron brought home earlier this week! (What unwanted, unnecessary item would you like to buy from this catalog? We settled on the chocolate-covered caramels and sent the form back with him the next day without ever asking any family, friends, or neighbors.) Can you even recycle paper for money these days? I have no idea.

But some things remain the same whether you were born in 1958 or 2008. At Henry's birthday party, "the boys entertained themselves by practicing artificial respiration on one another." I just had to laugh when I read that because it was so random, and yet, I happen to know a bunch of adolescent boys who would be quite amused by that (and likewise, I know very few (if any) girls who would come up with that as a fun activity). Once again, Beverly Cleary hit the interests, humor, and frustrations of boys spot on. She's pretty amazing.

Even though this was not my favorite Henry book, we still enjoyed it immensely. Like Ramona, we can always count on him for a story worth reading.

Feb 23, 2015

KidPages: Home by Carson Ellis

When it comes to picture books, I think I'm definitely partial to ones with a clear story arc and memorable characters. When they're just centered around a particular theme without any cohesive plot, I tend to feel rather noncommittal; I can take it or leave it, but either way I won't remember much about it by the next day.

Home would be an exception to this rule.

It had me on the title page. And I would happily read it again and again and again.

You can probably already guess what it's about: each page shows a different home and its occupants . . . which, at first glance, might not sound all that interesting or even original. But keep an open mind. This book takes you to homes you've never thought about or known existed.

It begins with the homes you might expect . . . one in the country, one in the city. But it quickly veers off into the unexpected: the lair of thieves, the underwater home of Atlantians, the cozy cottage of a Moonian (with an enviable view of planet Earth). It somehow crosses over all cultures and time periods, showing homes of people, animals, and fictional characters. It pairs the most unlikely houses side by side (that of a Japanese businessman on the left page and the home of a Norse god on the right, for example).

It leaves some of the story up to the imagination of the reader: Who do you think lives here? And why do you think they live there? And it ends with the homes of the people most invested in the story--that of the author and the reader.

I believe this is the first picture book that Carson Ellis both wrote and illustrated, and the illustrations make the book. I believe they're done in watercolors, and it gives them a subtle and soft look that works very well with the quiet comfort of homes. I'm no judge of this, but it would not surprise me at all if this received some Caldecott recognition come 2016.

I've been trying to come up with why I like this book so much in spite of its not following the formula I traditionally like, and I think it comes down to this: it took something so basic and familiar but made me think about it in a new way.  People have been living in homes of one kind or another since time began. It doesn't matter where you live in the world, you have a place you go to at the end of the day and usually (hopefully), it is a place that brings you both peace and comfort. My own home is a refuge, a place for me to be with my family where I feel safe and loved. This book captured all of those feelings but added something new, too. It made me realize how vastly different homes can be while still providing those same feelings of happiness and security. It is a beautiful book and one our whole family enjoyed.

Many thanks to Candlewick Press for sending us a hardback copy of this book. I was compensated in no other way for this review, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Feb 20, 2015

He's Done!

We're celebrating over here today because Max finished the last lesson in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.

We've been looking towards this day for a long time (we did the first lesson in August 2013, a year and a half ago!). We took our time and worked slowly and steadily, taking breaks when needed and supplementing with other books.

That poor book is battered and bruised. Well loved and well used.

Max is celebrating his accomplishment in a big way . . . with a ring pop. :-)

As if on cue, Bradley has spent the last couple of weeks asking me constantly, "what's this word . . . and this word . . . and this word?" It's like he knows his turn is just around the corner.

Speaking of which, as much as I have loved Teach Your Child . . . , after going through the entire book twice, I'm getting a little bored with it and might want to try out another method. I'm looking into Phonics Pathways or The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. Any thoughts?

Overall, it's been a joyful process of discovering and learning with Max. I've enjoyed (almost) every moment. This marks an ending of sorts. But now the real fun of reading will begin . . .

P.S. I remember when Aaron was at this stage. It was exciting then, too.

Feb 18, 2015

Nine of Our Favorite Kid's Music Albums

Lest you think we only read books around here, let me tell you that we also listen to a lot of music. And just like children's books, children's music can be really hit and miss. Some of it literally makes me want to run for the hills. But there is some that is so witty and catchy, even Mike and I can't help singing along.

Today I want to share nine of our favorites (not affiliate links--for your convenience only):

1. Mozart's Magic Fantasy (and other Classical Kids albums)

I grew up with these albums and still owe a large part of my classical knowledge to them (four semesters of music history notwithstanding). Each one takes a composer, a story (sometimes somewhat biographical), and his music (I say "his" because, to date, they have not done any female composers, but if they ever spotlight Clara Schumann, I will buy it in a heartbeat), and weaves it  into an unforgettable listening experience. If you're wanting to introduce your kids to audiobooks, I highly recommend these as a good transition; the music and full cast dramatizations keep it fast-paced and engaging.

Favorite song: "O Zittre Nicht"

2. Family Tree (and any of Tom Chapin's other albums)

One year during a church talent show, some good friends acted out Tom Chapin's song, "The Nick of Time." I was probably 14 at the time, but I thought it was absolutely hilarious. For years, I remembered the chorus ( " . . . not one, not two, not three, not four, but the nick of time, on five"), but I had no idea who sung it or what album it was from. Finally, just a few months ago, I decided to renew my search for it and found it on the album Family Tree by much-beloved children's singer, Tom Chapin. We have since listened to many of Tom Chapin's other songs (and love pretty much all of them).

Favorite song: "The Nick of Time" (obviously), but he also sings one called "Library Song" that is pretty fabulous as well.

3. Super Why! You've Got the Power
I don't know about you but any song that refers to reading as a superpower is pretty much an instant win for me. I like Super Why, the show, just fine, but I really like Super Why, the music (mainly because it doesn't put my kids in a cranky mood when I have to turn it off). Also, there's something about hearing my three-year-old singing "B-O-A-T, boat, boat, boat!" that just cracks me up.

Favorite song: "Woofster" (at least that's my kids' favorite)

4. Diego, Dora, and Friends' Animal Jamboree
Okay, I'm kind of embarrassed about including this one on the list. We are not big Dora or Diego fans around here (although my kids do watch them occasionally), but I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that this is one of my kids' very favorite music albums . . . and has been for the last two years. It's a collection of well-known songs ("Rockin' Robin," "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," etc.) but sung in Dora's and Diego's voices. So if you can't stand them, then this is definitely not the album for you. However, Mike and I have had to listen to this fairly regularly for the last two years, and even though it isn't what we'd necessarily choose to listen to, we don't beg our kids to pick something else either. In fact, when Bradley was a little younger and sang along with "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep," we quite enjoyed it. ("The Piranha Song" though? It's rather disturbing.)

Favorite song: "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep"

5. Scripture Scouts
My siblings and I grew up on the Scripture Scouts albums. They're about three kids (Skyler, Sue, and Baby) and a dog (Boo) who meet together in Skyler's treehouse to act out scripture stories. They're a mix of dialogue and songs, and we now own the entire collection (thanks to my mom). I don't know if my dad would agree that adults enjoy them (he never could stand the voice of Boo), but even now, when my siblings and I are together, we'll break out and quote entire segments. Although the albums for The Book of Mormon and The Articles of Faith are definitely geared toward the Mormon faith, I think families of any Christian denomination would enjoy the ones about The Old Testament or The New Testament.

Favorite song: "No Room in the Inn"

6. Watch Me Sing (and other albums from Brite Music)
Another favorite from my childhood! I don't know if I would like these as much if I was listening to them for the first time as an adult (so take this as a cautious recommendation), but as it is, every time I hear one of the songs, I'm instantly six years old again and running, skipping, and dancing around the coffee table with my younger brothers. I wondered if they would sound too old-fashioned to my kids (they're definitely reminiscent of the 70's and 80's), but nope, my kids love them. The Watch Me Sing albums are filled with action songs while the I Have a Song for You albums contain songs about the holidays, weather, animals, people etc.

Favorite song: "See Me Run"

7. Silly Songs and More Silly Songs
I think every family needs an album or two of just classic, well-known, much-loved children's songs. C'mon, we have to pass down "On Top of Spaghetti" to the next generation! We've sampled our fair share of these types of collections , but these are the ones we've purchased. We like the selection; we like the arrangements; and we don't mind the vocalists (even though some of them sound like Mickey and Minnie). If you're looking for a collection of kids' classics, give this one a try.

Favorite song: "Cupcakes and Lemonade"

8. Jake and the Neverland Pirates
My three-year-old is a little Jake and the Neverland Pirates obsessed--and has been for many, many months now. Back when the obsession first hit, I checked out the soundtrack from the library, thinking he would get a kick out of it. Imagine my surprise when I actually liked it . . . and so did my husband. We did not see that one coming at all. But the lyrics are witty, the tunes are catchy, and there's not a one of us who complains when we turn it on in the car.

Favorite song: "Shipwreck Shuffle" (mostly because of the didgeridoo)

9.  Pancake Manor

This is the wild card of the bunch. Last fall, I was teaching our little preschool group about the solar system. I wanted a song to help them learn the names of the planets, and when I searched for something on Youtube, I found this one. I bought it so I could put it on our ipod, and my boys listened to it on repeat for weeks. Seriously, they would sometimes listen to it twenty times in a row (and boy, did they know their planets!). I really liked the sound of the group (the only thing I can think to compare it to is that it's like Owl City for kids). We finally bought the rest of the album for Christmas and have all enjoyed it ever since (and in putting this post together, I found a brand new album of theirs that came out a couple of months ago, so I'm pretty sure Max will be getting that for his birthday).

Favorite song: "The Planets Song" or "Pancake Party"

And that's it (at least for right now--we actually have more favorites that I'll share another time).

Are any of these songs popular at your house? What are some of your favorite kid's music albums? I would love some new ideas!
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