________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 13. . . .February 20, 2009.


Seashell, Sing a Song to Me: Traditional Songs and Rhymes for Young Seafarers.

Theo Heras.
Toronto, ON: Mary Contrary Associates (140 Ellsworth Ave, M6G 2K6 or theras@interlog.com), 2008.
1 CD, 26 min., 14 sec., $20.00.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.




     Theo Heras' dark, velvety mezzo voice will be remembered by those who were fortunate enough to listen to her earlier CD What Will We Do With the Baby-O? Heras is a singer, writer, storyteller and children's librarian who lives in Toronto, ON. Her love and knowledge of children's literature is obvious from the choices she has made for the songs and rhymes on this album.

     "Imagine a day at the beach." the jacket asks the listener. Then you will be in the mood for Seashell, Sing a Song to Me, a compilation of traditional songs and rhymes all featuring some aspect of the sea.

     Cindy Fairbank accompanies the singer on the piano with simple and jaunty interpretations of each selection. Interspersed with songs are tiny 30 to 15 second clips of well-known nursery rhymes. Several of the songs, for example "What Shall We do With the Drunken Sailor", "Hullaballoobalay", "Bobby Shafto" and "The Allee-Allee-O"-lend themselves to a sing-along with the young listener. There is some very pleasant music made when Heras and Ken harmonize to a lovely rendition of "Leave Her Johnny Leave Her." (Although it might be necessary for the adult to explain that the "her" in this song refers to a ship, and not a person!)

     Theo Heras' CD is dedicated to the memories of well-known and loved folklorists and educators, Edith Fowke and John Langstaff, as well as to early childhood music pioneer Donna Wood. There is no doubt that it is a collection which would have been approved and appreciated by these gifted forerunners. Cindy Fairbank's playful and inventive piano accompaniment, as well as Ken Whitely's sound effects, enliven what might otherwise be too much of the singer's somewhat adult singing style.

     Adults who enjoy singing with children (and who have a good collection of music for young listeners) will find this album a welcome addition to such a collection. Seashell, Sing a Song to Me would probably be much appreciated as a quiet and calming influence on little ones during long car trips. There are no "have-to-dance" selections among the 23 on the CD.


A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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