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Kids Music Hits the Big Time

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Children's music used to consist of nursery rhymes, "E-I-E-I-O" and "The Wheels on the Bus." Today, accomplished musicians, rockers and singers from the adult music world regularly lend their talents to tunes for youngsters.

Prices vary at retail outlets and depend on CD or digital options.

"No School Today" from Danny Weinkauf; Idlewild Recordings.

Funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, this smart-pop CD features rousing rockers and clever, kid-centered odes to voting, spelling bees and archeology. From the longtime bassist of funky rockers They Might Be Giants, Weinkauf also used other professionals known for mixing and mastering music with Bryan Ferry and the B52s.

Of particular note is a bonus track, "The Kidney That Lived in Four People," based on a true story. Kid music queen Laurie Berkner also lends her talents on the sweet, catchy "Our Love Fits," and there's a fantastic music video for "Marsupial."

For more information, visit www.dannyweinkauf.com.

"Zee Avi's Nightlight" by Little Monster Records.

Zee Avi is a YouTube sensation, who's also a singer/songwriter, guitarist, ukulele player and visual artist. Her simple, powerful roots shine through these nine songs, with a very distinctive voice and infectious sound. Her nine tunes cover classics, from Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy" to Louis Armstrong's "Dream a Little Dream" and Lou Reed's "Who Loves the Sun."

Little Monster Records' producer Kevin Salem says, "There's a lot of soul and great musical nourishment here," and certainly there is, from this soulful Malaysian-American artist.

"Shy Kid Blues" from Hullabaloo; Hullabaloo Records.

Hullabaloo's 11th CD, "Shy Kid Blues," features longtime pals Steve Denyes and Brendan Kremer, who chose to mix storytelling and music here in order to tell one cohesive tale.

The musical "free-range, organic" duo wanted to help reach out to shy kids via their minds, rather than on a screen.

The opening monologue, "A Very Quiet Baby," sets the stage, with "Talking Shy Kid Blues" following as a bluesy story about shy kid Steve. Music highlights include the hand-clapping "365 Days on Earth," New Orleans-style shuffle "Trombone Man," and guitar master Joey Harris adding "Brendan Rocks the Box." Other genres include Kentucky bluegrass, classic country, and a gloriously uplifting number called "Like a Bird Must Feel."

"The Apple Tree & The Honey Bee" by Bari Koral; Loopylou Tunes.

Koral got her start touring the college circuit as a popular folk/pop singer, but now, with her Family Rock Band, turns her attention to kids. As a leader in the yoga-for-kids movement, her catchy tunes and interactive live shows have been popular onstage and in classrooms.

Her newest CD, however, focuses on musical fun; and Koral explains that working in Nashville with legendary producer Brad Jones was a no-brainer. Songs include the rocking "Dancing Bear," "Big Truck" a la Johnny Cash, the New Orleans-ish "Roller Coaster," chock-full of "whees!" and banjo-picker "Yes & No."

People magazine named Koral's 2012 release "Anna and the Cupcakes" one of the year's coolest albums for kids. Her latest fits that title as well.

KIDBITS

There are too many worthy new children's albums to review, but here are a few more to mention.

"Pleased to Meet You" from Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke; Worm Hole, with vintagy/quirky tunes like "Eggplant Man," "Raised by Trolls" and "Trondaxx Berserker."

Justin Roberts' newest is entitled "Recess" from Carpet Square Records, while Frances England's "Blink of an Eye" is a refreshing ode to outdoor fun. Lastly, for now, "'Till the Morning," from Edie Carey and Sarah Sample, is full of soothing, comforting lullabies for all ages.

To find out more about Lee Littlewood and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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