A lot of kindie musicians dream of creating their own TV shows.
Most of the rest of them want to become authors.
That works out to varying degrees, of course. Chris Ballew, AKA Caspar Babypants, in addition to being a talented musician (and visual artist), has the good fortune to be married to artist Kate Endle. Togther they have combined to produce two lovely books -- Bunny Rabbit in the Sunlight and My Woodland Wish -- which parents (or kids) wholly unfamiliar with Caspar Babypants or Chris Ballew would be happy to have on the shelf.
In fact, these books owe the majority of their charm not to the words but to Endle's cut-paper artwork, which is simply beautiful. It's a collage but with everything meticulously planned and put just in the right place. (Take a look at that cover -- you'd think that it was entirely hand-drawn until you look closely at those bushes.) Both books are nature-based -- Bunny Rabbit presents a series of animals in different light settngs while My Woodland Wish is an ever-so-slightly more narratively-driven book that follows a girl spying on (and interacting with) various woodland creatures. The books are cute, but not too much so -- they don't over-anthropomorphize the animals (or give them eyes waaaaay out of proportional to the rest of their bodies).
The words/lyrics to the books (created by Ballew alone in the case of Bunny Rabbit; the two of them together for My Woodland Wish) aren't bad, they're just not what keeps me returning to the books. Ballew created Caspar Babypants melodies for the words, and while they don't have the zippy energy that I personally enjoy most about CB songs (nor should they given the subject matter), they definitely create a sense of dream-like wonder like many of his other songs do.
Caspar Babypants - "Bunny Rabbit in the Sunlight" (book preview) [YouTube]
(The video book preview for the other book is at the end of this review.)
The board book Bunny Rabbit in the Sunlight is most appropriate for kids ages 2 through 5; the picture book My Woodland Wish is more appropriate for ages 3 through 7. You can download both books' tracks here.
I should also note that this is not a typical self-published book, which in my experience can look kinda cheap when you hold it in your hand. These are both releases of Sasquatch Books, a regional publisher distributed by Random House; they both look and feel gorgeous and solidly made. You can find the books, therefore, all over the internet (and maybe even your local bookseller); Endle also sells them at her Etsy store.
I've been almost a little scared as to how easily Ballew has made the transition to part-time (bordering on full-time) family musician. There's not a single dud in his Caspar Babypants CD canon, and now he's helped create two wonderful kids' books with Endle. (A third, Augie to Zebra, is due out in May 2012.) Given their success with books, perhaps they should think about TV... Definitely recommended.
Disclosure: I received copies of these two books for possible review.
Caspar Babypants - "My Woodland Wish" (book preview) [YouTube]