CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 18. . . . May 9, 2003
Michael Mitchell is a man with a mission whose means is song. He wants young people to feel a sense of pride in their heritage as they listen to and sing along with his lively versions of old and new Canadian songs. Mitchell's first CD, Canada is for Kids: Volume 1, featured 14 songs from all corners of Canada and included several of the singer's own compositions. In Canada is for Kids: Volume 2, Mitchell has kept a similar mix of traditional folk songs and original tunes. Well-loved traditional numbers such as the Black Fly Song, Little Old Sod Shanty in the West and Jack Was Every Inch a Sailor alternate with songs of miners (The Coal Town Road) immigrants (Headed for Canada) west-coast fishermen (Where the Coho Flash Silver) and pioneers (Red River Cart Song). Three of Michael Mitchell's compositions are included; the rollicking We're All Looking for a Dinosaur (written for Sesame Street), Maple Sugar Time and Water, a paean to that precious resource which, as the writer points out "we should never take for granted.." The collection ends with a tender rendition of the famous song of an exiled Canadian, Un Canadien Errant.
Accompanying the CD is a music book which includes musical charts for voice, piano, guitar and recorder. An instrumental version of the CD is also available to music teachers who may wish to use the accompaniment for classes or concerts. Owl Magazine is quoted as saying of Mitchell's Canada is for Kids: "This is a perfect vehicle to help children learn their Canadian history." (And geography, one might add). The singer/songwriter has done a first-class job of selecting tuneful, toe-tapping songs from across Canada. Just about every province is represented, although Manitoba seems to have been given a miss.
Michael Mitchell is a well-known singer and story teller who takes his one-hour show, Canada is for Kids, to elementary schools all over the country. He has a warm, pleasant baritone voice, a sort of combination of Stan Rogers and Pete Seeger. As well as accompanying himself on the guitar, he uses pre-recorded CD music tracks to add the sound of a full band to every song.
Mitchell's lively and sing-able collection of Canadian songs should prove a useful resource not only for music teachers but also for all teachers whose curriculum includes Canadian history or geography. It will be a valuable addition to the school library or media centre's Canadiana collection.
A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.