I could take a lot of time talking specifically about Gustafer Yellowgold's Infinity Sock, the fourth Gustafer Yellowgold DVD/CD set from musician/illustrator Morgan Taylor -- how it's another collection of mellow pop-rock tunes, alternately humorous and wistful, accompanying the slightly surreal adventures of our yellow friend from the sun, Gustafer Yellowgold. Or maybe how it features an honest-to-goodness narrative from start to finish.
But what I'd rather do is spend a few words about what Taylor has done with Gustafer, and that's nothing less than create a totally immersive world of characters that Taylor could easily spend another ten, twenty, or thirty years exploring. Just as Dan Zanes has crafted his own niche of family music that never really delves into the specific lives of kids, with Gustafer Yellowgold Taylor has written "kids music" that has (seemingly) nothing to do with the specific lives of kids. After all, on this adventure (featuring Gustafer trying to find the toe-end of the titular sock), Gustafer visits a beehive to see an amazing bee-band ("Beehive") or visits an all-cheese clothing store (the very funny "Wisconsin Poncho"). These are not concerns of your typical 5-year-old.
What this story and all the Gustafer Yellowgold stories are is Children's Literature, Fanciful and Fantastic Division. Gustafer is just as much the descendent of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are as it is the descendent of Harry Nilsson's The Point. Which isn't to say that kids might not learn lessons here (the interconnectivity of life, inherent value of all beings, the need to explore), but they're born out of Taylor's basic philosophy, not forced upon the watcher or listener, and they assume that kids are smarter than we often give them credit for. (Which is a pretty good assumption.)
This DVD/CD set is appropriate for kids ages 4 through 10. You can watch video clips from the half-hour story here. Visually the DVD, as always, looks great -- minimally animated but distinctive. (The bonus features, including a mockumentary and guitar and drawing lessons, aren't essential but nice to watch at least once.) Current Gustafer Yellowgold fans will enjoy Gustafer Yellowgold's Infinity Sock no less than the previous DVDs, and for the rest of you, this is as good a place as any to start. Like the best kids' lit, your kids could still be buying new Gustafer Yellowgold DVDs when they become parents themselves. Definitely recommended.
Disclosure: I received a copy of the DVD/CD set for possible review.