Tag Archives: Kids and Teens

CD Review: Bob Marley, “B Is for Bob”

Bob Marley – B Is for Bob (Tuff Gong, 2009)
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A perfect blend of the utterly crass and the undeniably entertaining, Tuff Gong’s latest Bob Marley compilation stitches together a dozen previously released tracks — eight of them with subtle remixing and repurposing from Ziggy Marley — bundles them with a whole bunch of nifty bonus content, and serves them up for one more round of consumption. On the one hand, it’s label tomfoolery at its most repellent — how much Marley product do these people need to sell? — but on the other, it’s really sort of brilliant; after all, now that Legend has passed the 10 million-in-sales mark, is there a reggae fan left on Earth who doesn’t own his greatest hits? It’s time to start building new ones, which is where B Is for Bob comes in. Though I doubt most people have ever thought of him as a children’s artist, a lot of Marley’s music is quite kid-friendly — simple, catchy, and carrying messages of peace, love, and happiness — and though it seems safe to say the original versions of these songs would have worked just fine, Ziggy’s remix job hasn’t done them any harm; in fact, unless you’re a dedicated Marley disciple, you probably won’t even notice a difference.

Adding value to the compilation is a raft of extra online material, unlockable when you insert the disc into a Web-connected computer. In exchange for purchasing these songs for the umpteenth time, you get things like coloring book pages, a music video, and a one-year subscription to Parents magazine. None of it is truly essential, of course, but it’s a fun little package, and something that’ll make a terrific gift for any budding Bob enthusiasts in your life. You might get more sparkle from a more contemporary artist, but for classic songs that will last a lifetime, this batch is just about impossible to beat.

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Product Review: Fridge Phonics by LeapFrog

My wife and I went to our first pre-school tour a couple months ago. We live in Los Angeles and had been frightened into action by a friend who was visiting for coffee. The friend was admonishing us for waiting so long to start the waiting list process. After all, Zoe was already eighteen months old. For all intents and purposes, we were “too late to get into any good schools.” The way she said it made it sound as though we had consigned our daughter to a lifetime in the service industry after four years at a community college because the only choice left to us was the J. W. Gacy Clown-Around pre-school.

Before calmer heads had the chance to talk some sense into us we found ourselves in the office of one of the more prestigious pre-schools in the Los Angeles area. The children in this school system graduate to the next level with an average 85% or higher. They don’t mess around here. Only a handful of students per teacher. No holiday is celebrated or hailed so as not to leave anyone out. And the children are not forced into narrow cubbies when they are bad, though a few of them looked like they should be.

What really stood out to me though was when the principal sat us down to give us the low-down. I’ll skip all the details and get to the salient point:

“It used to be,” She said, sternly. “That children came to Pre-K to get ready for Kindergarten, where they would learn the alphabet and their numbers. Nowadays, children come to pre-school already knowing their alphabet and our job is to further enhance their experience to get them ready for a world where they are already ahead of the curve.”

Yipes. When did pre-school get so…advanced? When I was in Nursery school (as we called it) we played Duck, Duck, Goose! Now, the kids are practically pre-algebra! Daunting to say the least. But not impossible to overcome and I’m gonna tell you how we did it. Because it was remarkably simple and our daughter seems to be a genius. Albeit a genius who craps her pants and thinks cheesy poofs are part of the four food groups.

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