Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Shel Silverstein's

Shel Silverstein's "Underwater Land"

Spring 2003 Music
Ages: 6 - 12 yrs.
Producer: Olympia Records
CD Price: $17.98
Poet, author, illustrator playwright, songwriter and humorist Shel Silverstein, who died in 1999, left children (and appreciative adults) a legacy of brilliantly humorous wordplay (think of "Where the Sidewalk Ends, "A Light in the Attic," and on the gentle side, his deeply moving parable, "The Giving Tree.") Silverstein's longtime collaborator, popular Midwest-based singer-guitarist Pat Dailey, has turned some of that richly comic legacy into a riot of musical gold with his own rowdy, bluesy, perfectly timed vocals, a passel o' fine country musicians and Silverstein himself, making a delightfully raucous contribution to some of the tracks, recorded in 1997.

Here, begging to be learned for maximum sing-along enjoyment, are wildly witty songs about clams and barracuda, minnows and sharks, cuttlefish and octopi, fish tails and "soupy, gloopy" fish guts.

There's "Ickity-Ackity," a shark- piranha- and octopus-filled cautionary tale ("If you go with them for a swimmity-swim,/You may not come bickity-back"). A love-sick sailfish wails "What walleye do? What walleye do?/I'm sole alone and lonely…" and a speed-racing snail is a sight to behold ("You should'a seen that S-car go…"). One memorable track, recited in one long "Fish Breath," is guaranteed to leave listeners gasping: "The jellyfish, the jellyfish/He's sweeter than the other fish./He's in the Sandwich Islands/Searchin' for a peanut butter fish…"

When it comes to smart and funny family albums, this is the catch of the day.

Lynne Heffley   ©2003 Parents' Choice
A freelance writer and editor for the arts and non-profit organizations, Lynne is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where she established the paper's first weekly children's arts and entertainment beat.

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