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THE CHRISTMAS GIFT

Diamond, Charlotte
Richmond (B.C.), Hug Bug Records, 1992. audiocassette, 40:00 min., $11.00.


MY BEAR GRUFF

Diamond, Charlotte
Richmond (B.C.), Hug Bug Records, 1992. audiocassette, 43:00 min, $11.00. Both distributed by Hug Bug Records, 6251 Chatsworth Road, Richmond, B.C. V7C 3S4


Pre-school to Grade 3/Ages 3 to 8
(A Christmas Gift is suitable for all ages)

Reviewed by Carol Carver

Volume 21 Number 2
1993 March


Charlotte Diamond travels the world in her holiday album, The Christmas Gift. She begins with the traditional "Silver Bells," but she then sings songs from the West Indies, Peru, Spain, France, South Africa, and Germany, often in the native language. There is also an original poem, "The Toy at the Bottom of the Stocking." Songs with strong rhythms "The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy" and "Zulu Carol" are particularly notable. Lyrics are included, a bonus for listeners who enjoy singing along, and translations are given for songs other than French. Directions for the Dreydle game accompany a Hebrew folk-song for Hanukka.

The credits reveal an amazing list of musicians, vocalists, and choirs accompanying the album, all of whom add to the quality. There is something for everyone on this excellent release, which was placed on the American Library Association's 1992 List of Notable Children's Recordings.

On initial listening, My Bear Gruff, Diamond's sixth recording, seems to lack the pizzazz of earlier albums, but further playing reveals the underlying magic. The songs tend to stay close to home ("My Bear Gruff," "Y'a un chat") or to be about nature ("Puddles," "Wildflowers"). Change of pace is provided by the bouncy "All the Nations Like Banana" and "Procrastination," which invokes "the ghost of things undone."

Diamond is joined by So La Mi Musical Theatre in addition to her regular Hug Bug Band. Lyrics for all sixteen songs are given and translations for the two French songs are included. Once again, production values are high. My Bear Gruff is as warm and cuddly as its namesake teddy on the cover.

For both releases, the quality is exceptional and prices are affordable. Charlotte Diamond deserves to be as well known throughout North America as she is in her native British Columbia.

Highly recommended.


Carol Carver is a Primary teacher at Dieppe School in Winnipeg, Manitoba
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