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



Spring 2014 Music
Ages: 3 - 8 yrs.
Producer: Coil Records
CD Price: $14.99

"When I was six, I announced to my parents that when I grew up I was going to be a baseball player and a musician. When it came time to pick a language to study in school, I chose Spanish so that I'd be able to talk to my future Major League teammates. And though my baseball career ended after college, I never stopped speaking Spanish," Mister G writes in the liner notes of his latest album, ABC Fiesta.

This was a precocious assessment of the linguistic landscape of our country since Spanish is, by far, the most spoken non-English language in the U.S., yet among children's music recordings, the percentage of bi-lingual albums released every year is comparatively few. Enter Mister G (alias Ben Gundersheimer), a former indie rocker who was awarded the first songwriting scholarship in the history of Berklee College of Music. He toured internationally prior to earning a Master's of Education and becoming a full-time family musician and teaching artist. ABC Fiesta is his fourth album for kids, and his second bi-lingual CD.

The recording features 12 original tunes, opening with the festive, funky and friendly "Hola Amigos," set to great Latin rhythms. "Quiero Leer," celebrates the joys of reading, while the gentle reggae lullaby "Cuento" is sung from the perspective of a child who loves hearing bedtime stories. The fun continues with the spoken word homage to beans everywhere in "Habichuelas," while the title track praises the playfulness of language. Another spoken word piece "La Guagua," discusses the many words for the bus in various Spanish dialects, and "Paletas" does the same with the numerous ways to say lollipop. "Cocodrilo" tells the story of a mean crocodile along a bouncy little rhythm, and "Frota tu Panza," is a superb follow-along movement song, set to a snaky beat. "Ratones" shows how much fun it is to rhyme words, but sometimes with unexpected results, like when you rhyme "ratones" with "pantalones," you get "rats in your pants." The album finishes with the mellow "Bongo Bongo," which manages to pay homage to percussion, without actually using any in the song. The album comes in a well-designed and illustrated sleeve, with a 12 page color booklet, that includes song explanations and enjoyable photos. Full lyrics and translations are easily available on Mr. G's website.

Lahri Bond   ©2014 Parents' Choice
Lahri Bond is a father, a writer, music historian and an art professor in Western Massachusetts. His published books include Spinning Tales Weaving Hope (with the Stories For World Change Network) for New Society Press and People of the Earth (coauthored with Ellen Evert Hopman) for Destiny Books.

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