Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Monday, September 16, 2013

Celebrate Country!

Never underestimate the power of music.  Add a tune to a message, it is more likely to be remembered.  Reading the words or singing the words can make all the difference.

Distinctively American is country music, rooted in the rural South and cowboy life of the West.  Whether it's slow, fast, sad or happy, telling a story or expressing a mood, country music gets to the heart of the matter.  Frog Trouble and Eleven Other Pretty Serious Songs (Workman Publishing) is a collection of twelve songs written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton with her signature wit and characters.  In this production she again teams with Michael Ford; the duo having earned three Gold Records and a Grammy nomination.

Satisfaction guaranteed with a dog named Hank, a tribute to trucks, and a frog stampede, which may or may not be real, get toes tapping, fingers snapping and hands clapping.  A lament about room cleaning, putting away toys, taking baths and going to bed, woeful words to say the least, follows next.  Daring to dream, discovering a gift and trying not to go crazy when three friends are doing everything to make it so, keep the energy going.

Sometimes you stay outside as long as you can, but sharing the sound of falling rain, the rumbling of thunder and the flash of lightning, inside and cozy with a friend makes a storm as bright as a sunny summer day.  Get ready to groove and move to a reptile ramble, sigh at the wonder felt by a parent for a child and visualize the shades of love.  Believe it or not...it's...no...it can't be...those amphibian tricksters are back.

Readers are treated to songs with the following titles:
  • I've Got a Dog
  • Trucks
  • Frog Trouble
  • Heartache Song
  • When Pigs Fly
  • Broken Piano
  • Copycat
  • End of a Summer Storm
  • Alligator Stroll
  • Beautiful Baby
  • Deepest Blue
  • More Frog Trouble
An impressive array of singers give voice to these tunes, Dwight Yoakam, Fountains of Wayne, Mark Lanegan, Kacey Musgraves, Ryan Adams, Ben Folds, Brad Paisley, Alison Krauss, Josh Turner, Darius Rucker, Linda Eder and Falls Mountain Cowboys.

The book is divided into three sections: Look While You Listen, Sing & Play Along and Meet The Performers.   Each song is showcased with at least a full page illustration on the left with partial lyrics on the right.  A frog in the lower right-hand corner directs readers to a page containing the remaining lyrics and music.  Adding to the overall fun are four extra elements:  How To Do The Alligator Stroll, Good Names for Dogs, Horses, 'Gators & Frogs, How To Talk Like A Cowboy and How to Make A Folded-Paper Frog Puppet.  

Even without the musical score Sandra Boynton's words kindle a desire to hum a melody or finger tap the beat.  As inviting as a winding country road her rhymes twist, turn and flow straight to each reader's rhythmic soul.  Infused with humor, warmth, a zest for life and love, these descriptive songs are country to the core.

Frogs in cowboy hats, a pig running with a guitar, sitting on a crescent moon or driving a pickup truck, a sweet old mutt, a winsome bunny, instrumental crazy cats, piano and fiddle playing tigers, bears watching the rain fall, a sunglasses-wearing alligator (and a chicken, too), a lion with his cub, a chorus of animal cowpokes and lots more frogs illustrate the book with comfort and comedy.  No one can mistake the style, color, liveliness and expressive pictures of Sandra Boynton; it's in the eyes and mouths.  Special details like the license plate on a truck (PYG-48), a rabbit with bunny slippers, a bear cub jumping in a puddle after a rain or an alligator's shadow as it crosses the top of a musical score, elevate this title to excellence.

The vocalists and musicians chosen to sing Boynton's songs (all lyrics written by her, all the music too except for six shared with Michael Ford) will have listeners playing the CD over and over.   The tunes are the kind that linger; catchy, soothing, soulful or energizing by turns.  You'll want to dig your guitar out of the closet or head to the nearest music store to purchase your own harmonica.

Frog Trouble and Eleven Other Pretty Serious Songs (For Ages One To Older Than Dirt) written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton, with music by Sandra Boynton and Michael Ford, is destined to be a country classic for the younger crowd.  It's so much fun though, as the cover suggests, anyone will enjoy listening to the music and reading along with the book.  It's a win, a surefire grin.

Follow the link embedded in Sandra Boynton's name above to her website.  The book and album have their own website, too, linked to the title above.  This site has portions of all the songs for your listening pleasure.  Enjoy the videos below.  

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