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

Parents' Choice Awards : Audio : Storytelling
Down In The Backpack

Down In The Backpack

Spring 2002 Storytelling
Ages: 5 - 10 yrs.
Performed By: Bill Harley
ISBN: 1-878126-43-1
CD Price: $15.00
Tape Price: $10.00
Bill Harley turns the Drifters' classic "Under the Boardwalk" into the title track, an archeological dig into a kid's backpack, where library books, last week's tuna sandwiches, teachers' notes and unidentifiable moldy, crawly things share space. "Mom and the Radio" is vintage Harley, a story song about radio wars in the car with an added humiliation factor: mom sings along with the oldies station-- with the window down.

Most songs, though, reflect this new album's main themes of acceptance, respect, friendship and the celebration of life. Child soloists and a children's chorus add to the humor and soulfulness of various tracks. "The King of Calibar," about a monarch who can't sing, is enlivened with a kid's running commentary; the chorus sweetens Harley's "It's a Long Way," a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of peace, and the beautiful "Everything is Music," inspired by composer Bruce Adolphe and Afro-Peruvian rhythms. Harley and the young singers wind it down with "Echo," a deft mix of sunny bursts of silliness and gentle, end-of-day quiet.

Lynne Heffley   ©2002 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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