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Looking to add to your reading list? Check out these books from the Kids Corner Bookmobile - just a few of the hundreds of books recommended over the years on Kids Corner! (refresh for more selections)


First Ladies of the United States


Presidential Pets

Veterinarian Dr. Mindy Cohan joins Kids Corner host Kathy O'Connell to explore the rich and colorful history of presidential pets! Once you've listened to part one, click below to listen to part two - as Mindy explores the pets of Presidents Abraham Lincoln up to President Obama!


The History of Computers

WXPN's Eric Schuman joins Kathy O'Connell to explore the rich history of computer technology. Part one of two. Once you've listened to part one, click below to listen to part two!

 


Robert Drake

Robert Drake

The June Selection

The House With A Clock In Its Walls
by John Bellairs (Series)

The May Selection

The BFG
by Roald Dahl

CD Reviews are in most recent review order...

Billy Kelly / "My First Comedy Album"

“Kids never get a break…except for like, from everything…” In Billy Kelly’s first comedy album, titled “My First Comedy Album,” kids don’t get a break from laughing, either. Parents get a break from having to censor comedy albums with this family-appropriate FUNNY collection of observations from the musician well known to Kids Corner audiences. Ever think about your name? Ever want it to be Mr. Poopy Strongman? You might after listening to this delightful album. Like any great album, “My First Comedy Album” holds together as a total work as well as in individual bits. Kelly is a natural, as is the delighted response of his multi-generational audience. His observations bear repeated listening, like any great album.


Lucy Kalantari / "Big Things"

Lucy’s newest CD gets released in September, and I predict in the future you’ll be hearing a lot from this album on Kids Corner. Lucy creates musical bridges (!) to the best of the jazzy past while remaining completely contemporary. Her rich, full voice and ukulele are beautifully backed by her band’s clarinet and bass, creating a unique sound that’s instantly recognizable. Her opener “Fantastic” sets the enthusiastic tone for the whole album. “Our Garden” is a musical salad turning a crop list into a clarinet showcase. “Balloon” is quite simply the greatest song ever in the history of the world. Her old-timey sound shows its deep roots with 1930’s “Mysterious Mose.” “Lovely” lives up to its title with sweet simplicity. This woman could single-handedly inspire a new generation of scat singers. “It’s Halloween” and “Birthday” make this a CD for all seasons. The sweet, soft personal closers “Love You Always” and “Song for My Son” are where the musician and parent blend into something that will echo with parents as well as kids.


Nathalia / "When I Was Your Age/Cuando era Pequena"

Nathalia’s third CD is based in her own memories growing up in Columbia, which she uses to create a picture of childhood that transcends geography and time. This catchy, rhythmic collection of bilingual original songs captures the universality of childhood like dinosaurs, birthdays and math. She had me intrigued with the first stomping sounds of extinct critters on “Dinosaur Dance,” giving way to joy as the song started. Nathalia moves seamlessly between Spanish and English within the songs themselves, and it’s that ease in her approach that works so well. The experiences she sings about are personal to her own life, yet completely relatable to all families. Every kid has anticipated a birthday, feared it’s being ignored and wanted to shout “It’s My Birthday” as Nathalia does in a song that captures the complexity of those feelings backed by a rich twangy guitar sound. My confused 5th grade self could have used a song like “Oh Math” with its mournful tone that fits any complicated relationship. It’s a wonderful album.


Recess Monkey / "Novelties"

If it’s a day that ends with a “y,” there must be a new Recess Monkey album! This incredibly prolific band’s 13th CD seems to be a celebration of ice cream, then moves with Beatlesque musical craft through 14 delightful original songs. The album opens with the question “Wouldn’t life be sad without a little sweetness?” answered with an anthem to “Every Flavor” of ice cream. “Sweaty Yeti” uses clever wordplay to tell a tale. “Bear with a Bear” is the band’s own “Penny Lane” with a brass section backing a song with many layers…of bears. “Chasing My Tail” speaks to the procrastinator in each of us through dog metaphors and old-timey melody. These guys shine at creating relatable real life kid songs in a wide range of music styles. “Piggyback” uses rhyme and rhythm to create the perfect mood around a classic mode of family transportation. Recess Monkey are three teachers from Seattle whose joy in what they do is evident in everything they create. You can hear the fun they’re having putting together songs like the hard rocking “Mustaches of the World.”


Secret Agent 23 Skidoo / "Infinity Plus One"

This out of this world album gets assistance from beyond the cosmos…and from Cosmos the TV show thanks to the voice of legendary astrophysicist Carl Sagan. The listener’s journey launches with audio from the Voyager Spacecraft. Then you’re set adrift through a cosmic karmic funktastic journey. Skidoo’s lyrics operate on a very personal level with layers of meaning behind titles like “Secret Superhero,” the musings of a kid who just doesn’t know what their superpower is yet. The song takes that Skidoo personal turn into everyday heroism involved with standing for what’s right. The mix is compelling. The lyrics are deep yet catchy. The music is out of this world. This is another Skidoo album that stands tall as a concept piece yet whose parts are individually strong songs. “Young Soul” is both irresistibly danceable and deeply reflective. “Glimmer” is the tale of a lunar moth who falls in love with the moon. That kind of imaginative premise takes flight in a mix of sweet-voiced simplicity (by Indigo DeSouza as Glimmer) and Skidoo’s lyrical complexity. “Smardi Gras” brilliantly uses New Orleans brass to celebrate trying no matter how tough the task. Skidoo stands with musical ancestors like Stevie Wonder and Sly Stone, yet he stands alone among the creators of inventive rhythmic music for families.


Chibi Kodama / "Dragons"

Chibi Kodama is a family band in the truest sense of the word. They are a Dad, Mom and young daughters who create amazing music and bring a bright beautiful energy to the world of music for families. Their latest CD, Dragons, begins with a haunting chorus of young voices urging “fly little one, you’re a dragon…” and develops into the anthem “Dragon at the Door.” This is an album that holds together both as a complete piece and as individual songs. And what songs! Songs that affirm the complexity of child- and parenthood backed by totally danceable rhythms. The haunting Chibi chorus segues into hard driving joyous pop on “Made to Fly” and sets up a remarkable lyrics as reflective as the best of Joni or Dylan. Neither parents nor kids have the answers, but the questions will get you thinking, and all voices are included. This is an album for everyone. The youngest ones will dance. Everyone else will find something in the lyrics that speaks to them as this album speaks to me.


KB Whirly / "Camp Songs"

Whether you’re heading to camp or enjoying a staycation, the old-timey musical goofiness of Camp Songs from KB Whirly is as satisfying as learning to swim and as refreshing as cold bug juice at the end of a long hike. This is definitely a concept album, singing of classic and current summer camp experiences. An awesome mix of kindie favorites like Dean Jones, Jazzy Ash and Alastair Moock combine with KB’s brilliant musicality to deliver one-stop shopping for the camp experience. Brass horns and intricate strings deliver a great mix. KB gives new energy to “Hello Mudda (Hello Faddah)” and borrows a melody from my grandmother’s time (“When Yuba Plays the Rhumba on His Tuba”) to tell the tale of the “Theft of the Red Canoe.” “Peter Piper’s Pickle Palace” is the kind of tongue twisted storytelling at home around a campfire and in your CD player. For the complete camp experience, there’s even “Reveille” and “Taps” with KB’s unique musical imprint. 


Alastair Moock / "All Kinds Of You And Me"

Marlo Thomas let loose a whole lot of wonderful when she let loose "Free to Be You and Me." The following three CDs are the natural descendents. First up, "All Kinds Of You And Me" by Alastair Moock. Alastair makes me feel comfortable whenever he picks up a guitar. His warm scratchy voice, commitment to making the world a better place and clever songwriting ability comes together beautifully on “All Kinds of You and Me.” This latest Moock CD had me with his opener “It Takes All Kinds,” then segued into a celebration of “People” walking down the street.  “I am Malala” is infectious and inspiring at the same time. “You Might Be a Girl” just made me happy with its jazzy rocky duet with Samirah Evans naming the vast variety of options open to anyone who identifies as a girl…or a boy, for that matter.


Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer / "Dancin’ in the Kitchen: Songs for ALL Families"

Cathy and Marcy have spent decades using music to enhance and reflect the real lives of their audiences. Their audiences are as varied as the families and individuals celebrated on this wonderful recording. This CD reimagines older songs like “I’m My Own Grandpa” (performed by Riders in the Sky) and John McCutcheon’s “Happy Adoption Day” for new ears. The musicians’ folkie roots are clear throughout this well-produced CD that throws some Woody Guthrie into the mix with “Howdy Little Newlycome.” “I Belong to a Family” was inspired by Marlo Thomas’ (the creator of “Free to Be You and Me”) describing family as “a feeling of belonging.” Here, they use the original tracks from 1992 and blend in a children’s choir for this song about a parent’s unconditional love for a child. The choir was a dream deferred in 1992, when several parents and educators balked at having young kids involved in a musical project about diversity. Celebrate how far we’ve come with this CD.


Chana Rothman / "Rainbow Train"

“Rainbow Train” is a true labor of love for creator Chana Rothman. The project grew from her own thoughts about gender identity and her own life with her children. She heard many stories from parents and teachers about kids who don’t fit into traditional gender roles. Clearly, there was a need for a resource to help families navigate their way through gender freedom. Her love of music and way of expressing herself will make you love this album that takes a new look at gender roles. Trans kids know who they are at a pretty early age even if they don’t have the words to express it. This CD gives them and the people who love them a way to express gender identity in an accessible and entertaining form. As someone who sat in a class with what felt like 47 other Kathys, “Everybody Gets to Choose Their Own Name” struck a chord. “Dress Up and Dance” and “Gender Bender” get the whole family dancing. The musical excellence of this CD delivers its message of freedom brilliantly.


Earthworm Ensemble / "Backyard Garden"

You can stay perfectly clean listening to this CD about having fun with dirt. Earthworm Ensemble’s song titles reflect their green-living philosophy: “Backyard Garden,” “Compost,” “Chicken Coop,” “Reduce Reuse Recycle.” The songs themselves reflect a high level of musicianship and a nice variety of musical styles. “Invisible Wind” has a complex feel reminiscent of Steeleye Span. “I Didn’t Give Up” backs inspirational lyrics with a hand-clapping “yeah yeah” beat. “Compost” has an infectious twangy sound. This CD adheres to my first rule of a great kindie CD: make good music first. Do good works second. The musical range of this CD packs a great lyrical wallop.


Eric Ode/ “Rock Nocturnal”

So many nature-centered CDs celebrate the sunshine and creatures that go along with it. This one doesn’t. “Rock Nocturnal” is about “dirt diggers and nighttime critters.” This imaginative collection of original songs addresses real-life garden challenges like “Gophers in the Garden” and veers into delightful imagery in the Irish-tinged “Raccoon and the Wizard’s Daughter.” There’s a nice range of musical styles (e.g., Stray Cats-sounding “Possibly the Possum,” twangy call-and-response in“There’s a Mole in a Hole”) with the good environmental information. This is a bouncy, fun CD saturated with Ode’s naturally positive sound. Perfect to introduce young kids to the animals of the night.


Molly Ledford and Billy Kelly / “Trees”

It’s a CD about trees. Molly Ledford is the lead singer of Lunch Money. Billy Kelly leads Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs. Together with noted kindie producer Dean Jones, they have sprouted an album as sturdy and majestic as “The National Tree of England” (which you’ll learn from this CD is the oak). “Trees” speaks in a smart, literate way to the natural joy a walk in the woods can bring. The CD is a mix of styles and references as varied as “The Dichotomous Key”---something else this CD will explain to you. “Let’s Go to the Woods” references Narnia and Thoreau to a rock and roll beat. “Acorns” has a wispy old-timey sound under Molly’s comforting voice. There’s mischief bubbling under that comfort, evident in “Angel Oak.” Combining good information (“Coniferous Trees”) with witty nonsense (“It’s Just a Dumb Ol’ Stick”) suits Billy Kelly’s comedic strengths just fine. This CD truly is the sum of its creative partners.


Each month Dr. Lisa Chirlian visits to teach us some interesting Kitchen Chemistry experiments - from understanding the science behind chocolate to learning just what it takes to make muffins ... it's Kitchen Chemistry! Check out the Kitchen Chemistry experiments on Dr. Lisa's page!

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Looking for something to do with the family? Check out the Kids Corner Family Calendar! There's everything from live music concerts to nature hikes and more- and be sure to check the top of the page for upcoming events where you can meet Kids Corner host Kathy O'Connell! 

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The April Selection

A Light in the Attic
by Shel Silverstein 

The March Selection

Enchantress From The Stars
by Sylvia Engdahl

Welcome to March - a month where we are encouraged to stop and remember the women who made history - both in America and around the world. There's many famous women in history, and some not-so-famous.  We've created a list of some women we think YOU should know ... perhaps this list might help and inspire you to create a school report based on one of these Women In History!

 Check Out The List

Interesting Women in History

All throughout the month of March we'll be celebrating Women's History Month by profiling some of the greatest Women ever! We hope you learn about some important Women that you may not have heard about before!


Ella Jenkins (1924- ):

"The First Lady of Children's Music" began singing professionally in 1956. In addition to composing original music for children, Ella Jenkins has collected and saved call-and-response songs and stories. Her "Adventures in Rhythm" workshops taught a generation of young children about dance and rhythm. When Ella Jenkins earned a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, her protégé Cathy Fink wrote, "The First Lady of Children's Music has made the world a better place by helping teachers and parents bring international folk songs and original compositions into their classrooms, homes and hearts, and giving young children their very first exposure to the joy of music."

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977):
"I am sick and tired of being sick and tired" were some of the famous words spoken by Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. Ms. Hamer was born into a poor Mississippi sharecropper's family. In her quest to help register African-American voters in the 1960's, Ms. Hamer was arrested, beaten, and lost her job and her home. But she never took her eyes off the prize of equal rights for all people. In 1964, Fannie Lou Hamer got the attention of the world when she demanded that the Democratic National Convention (meeting in Atlantic City to nominate Lyndon B. Johnson for President) recognize her Mississippi Freedom Party delegation to the convention. This forced a change in the way women and minorities were represented in state politics.

Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1995):
Republican Congresswoman and Senator (1949-1973) from Maine. When she ran for the Republican nomination for President in 1964, Mrs. Smith became the first woman to have her name placed in nomination by either major political party. In 1950, she became the first member of Congress to stand up to the bullying tactics of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Her "Declaration of Conscience" called for the end of McCarthy's using the Senate as a "forum of hate and character assassination sheltered by the shield of congressional immunity." She was a conservative Senator whose support of women in the military earned her the nickname "Mother of the WAVES."

Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005):
Democratic Congresswoman from New York (1969-1983). Educated by the English school system in Barbados, which she said gave her a strong academic background. She was the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Congress, and was a candidate for the presidential nomination in 1972. She was a co-founder of the National Organization for Women. Speaking about the role of women in society, she said, "We must refuse to accept the old, the traditional roles and stereotypes."

Abigail Adams (1744-1818):
Abigail Adams was the second U.S. First Lady (1797-1801), and the first First Lady to occupy the White House. She was the first woman to be the wife of one President (John Adams) and the mother of another President (John Quincy Adams). Although girls were not formally educated in her childhood, her natural curiosity drove her to read everything she could. Left alone while her husband helped lead the fight for independence, she ran the family farm and raised four children alone. Her letters to her husband give history a view into the world of women during the American Revolution.

Maria Mitchell (1818-1889):
American Astronomer who discovered her first comet in 1847 through a telescope her father placed on the roof of the family home. News of "Miss Mitchell's Comet" brought tourists from everywhere to see America's first woman astronomer. First woman member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1848). She became a professor of astronomy and director of the college observatory at Vassar College. She often invited her students to come up to the observatory at night and watch meteor showers or other astronomical events.

Margaret Bourke White (1904-1971):
First female photojournalist, or someone who tells a story in photographs. As a child she pretended to take pictures with an old empty cigar box as her father pursued his hobby of photography. Later, she learned photography by helping her father set up shots and develop prints. As an adult, her work took her around the globe. She worked for "Fortune" and "Life" Magazines, and took photos of World War II in Europe. She even flew along on American bombing raids, taking pictures of the destruction. Her most famous subjects include South African miners and Mohandas Gandhi. Her photo of the Fort Peck Dam was used on the first cover of Life Magazine.

Jill Kinmont Boothe (1936-2012):
Championship downhill skier whose life changed forever when an accident during an Olympic ski trial left her paralyzed. She continued her education against great odds at a time when most colleges were not wheelchair-accessible. Although she was refused a state teaching certificate because of her disability, she started a summer school on the Paiute Indian Reservation near her home in California. While in physical therapy, she learned to paint, and produces a few watercolors each year. Each of her paintbrushes is fitted with a magnet that attaches to a magnet strapped to her painting hand. Her autobiography is The Other Side of the Mountain.

Dolores Huerta (1930- ):
Co-founded (with Cesar Chavez) United Farm Workers Union in 1962. As a teacher in a farm workers' community in California, she wanted to change the lives of her students' families. She left her job because in her words, "I couldn't stand seeing kids come to class hungry and needing shoes. I thought I could do more by organizing farm workers than by trying to teach their hungry children." She used nonviolence to organize farm workers into the Union. She helped create the first health benefits plans for farm workers. She spoke out against pesticides and chemicals used in farming. She is the mother of 11 children and grandmother of 14. She learned to be active and outspoken from her mother, who owned a hotel.

Queen Liliuokalani (1838-1917):
Last Queen of the Hawaiian Islands. She reigned from 1891 to 1895. She tried to regain power for native Hawaiian people that had been given to American pineapple growers. Outsiders helped change the Hawaiian constitution to say that foreigners could vote while native Hawaiians could not. American colonists and businessmen supported annexation of Hawaii by the United States. As a result, there was a revolution and Queen Lili'uokalani was arrested and kept in Iolani Palace in Honolulu. She appealed to Pres. Cleveland for help, but pineapple company owner Sanford Dole created a new government in Hawaii.

Grace Hopper (1906-1992):
Admiral Grace Murray Hopper was a pioneer in computer science. She was a mathematics teacher in 1943 when she joined the WAVES (women's branch of the Navy). Her first assignment was to "compute the coefficients of the arc tangent series." After the War, she worked with computers in education, business, and the military. She was one of the first software engineers in the world of computing. She invented the compiler, which translates English language instructions into the language of the target computer. Throughout her long life, she was most proud of her service to her country in the military. In 1985 she became an Admiral in the Navy.

Mary Pickford (1893-1979):
Movie actress and businesswoman. She was the first superstar of the movies, most famous for her work in silent movies. Nicknamed "America's Sweetheart," Mary Pickford was also one of the founders of Hollywood. An important producer, writer and director, she controlled her career and her films as few actresses or actors have since. One of the founders of the United Artists Company, with the idea that movie artists should have control over their own work and make their own movies.

Irna Phillips (1901-1973):
"The Mother of the Soap Opera." She was a radio script writer and producer. Her program, "Painted Dreams" (1930) was the first daytime dramatic series aimed at women. Since the show was sponsored by a soap company, it came to be known as a "soap opera." She created story forms and dramatic practices that are still used in today's daytime dramas. She created some of radio and (later) television's greatest daytime dramas, including "The Guiding Light," "Another World," and "Days of Our Lives."

Julia Morgan (1872-1957):
One of the first women to graduate with a degree in civil engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, where she developed her interest in architecture. She waited two years to be accepted into architecture school because no women had been admitted before. Started her own architecture firm in 1904. She became famous for using shingles, California redwoods and earth tones in her work. Designed over 800 buildings in California, Hawaii, and Utah, including several YMCA buildings. Her most famous building is the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, created for legendary publisher William Randolph Hearst. San Simeon is still open to the public today.

Ethel Percy Andrus (1884-1967):
Social activist who helped improve the lives of older people. She said, "It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live." In 1947, she helped start the National Retired Teachers' Association because of the meager pensions teachers received when they retired. Her organization offered low-cost health insurance and the first health insurance program for people over 65. She founded the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) in 1958, with the goal of enhancing the quality of life for older persons.

Jeanette Rankin (1880-1973):
First woman elected to the U.S. Congress (Montana, 1916). She started her political career working for women's right to vote. A lifelong pacifist, she voted against American entry into World War I as a Republican Congresswoman. She said, "I knew that we were asked to vote for a commercial war, that none of the idealistic hopes would be carried out, and I was aware of the falseness of much of the propaganda." As a Senator from Montana (1940), she cast the sole vote in Congress against US entry into World War II after Pearl Harbor. She spent the rest of her life working for peace and women's rights.

Patsy Mink (1927-2002):
First Asian-American elected to Congress (Hawaii, 1965), she served 12 terms. She was so popular with voters that she won her last election two months after she died. Learned to work well with many different people as a child in Hawaii during World War II. She built coalitions within Congress that led to the first comprehensive Early Childhood Education Act. She authored the Women's Educational Equity Act, and was a leading force behind Title IX, which guarantees equal support for boys' and girls' sports programs in federally funded schools.

Juliette Low (1860-1927):
Founder of the Girl Scouts of America. Nicknamed "Daisy" as a child, she was an accomplished artist known for her sense of humor and love of pets. Lost most of her hearing due to accidents. Meeting Lord Baden-Powell (founder of the Boy Scouts) in England, she became excited about his programs and told her sister, "I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight!" The Girl Scouts brought girls of all backgrounds and abilities together, helping them develop self-reliance and resourcefulness. The Girl Scouts also helped prepare young women for possible future roles as professional women-in the arts, sciences and business-and for active citizenship outside the home.

Frances Perkins (1880-1965):
First woman Cabinet member in the U.S. government (Secretary of Labor, 1933-1945). Started her career as a social worker, and became interested in workers' rights and safety after witnessing the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Her time as Secretary of Labor under Franklin D. Roosevelt is marked by many recovery efforts and labor reforms. Among them was the establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the enactment of the Social Security Act, the National Labor Relations, and Fair Labor Standards Acts. Helped American workers survive the Great Depression.

Wilma Rudolph (1940-1994):
The first American woman to win three Olympic gold medals for track and field (1960). She overcame childhood disability (polio) with help of her mother, who took the child 50 miles to the black medical college of Fisk University in Nashville twice a week for two years, until she was able to walk with the aid of a metal leg brace. Became an athlete at 12 when she could walk without help. Her Olympic victory parade was the first racially integrated event ever held in her hometown of Clarksville, Tennessee. Started the Wilma Rudolph Foundation to help young athletes in poor areas.

Time for the 2015 Kids Corner Music Festival - Sunday, March 22 at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia! Gather the family and join us for a wonderful morning of great live music from some of the best Kindie artists out there today: The Pop Ups, Joanie Leeds & The Night Lights and The Not-Its!

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