Review: Whaddaya Think Of That? - Laurie Berkner

Of all the well-known children's music artists currently recording, Laurie Berkner has made the most effort to rescue toddler/pre-school songs from the detritus of many years of neglect. She does this in two ways:
1) She has fun singing kids' classics.
2) She records new songs actually aimed at toddlers.

Berkner's first CD, Whaddaya Think Of That? shows her strengths in both types of recordings. This CD doesn't have many "cover versions," though her renditions of the "Alphabet Song" and (especially) "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain" are lively and joyful, with just enough "something new" to make the tired songs fresh. Her rendition of the classic "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" is also lots of fun. She makes these songs fresh and fun even though she's rarely accompanied by more than a guitar and (sometimes) piano.

But more than most kids' artists, Berkner writes songs for toddlers and pre-schoolers without many concessions to adults. Even the song most likely to draw a smile from parents ("Doodlebugs," for reasons that I'll not reveal here for fear of ruining the surprise) works perfectly for the kids. Unlike many songs that encourage participation but which are bland on record, Berkner's songs such as "What Falls In the Fall?" and "These Are My Glasses" work fine even if you're just listening. And "We Are the Dinosaurs" is an instant kids' classic, if there can be such a thing. Indeed, one of the strengths of Berkner's work for younger kids is that the songs are simple enough that parents (and kids) can sing them later on, when the CD isn't playing.

There isn't much difference between this CD and Berkner's follow-up Buzz Buzz. Whaddaya is perhaps a little more limited in instrumentation, but not by much. Basically, if you like one of the CDs, you'll like the other. (And I recommend them both.) The CD is targeted mostly at kids between the ages of 2 and 6. You can buy Berkner's CDs at her own label, Two Tomatoes, or online or in finer book- or children's stores.