Itty-Bitty Review: The Little House Songs - Caroline Herring

TheLittleHouseSongs.jpgIt's not often ignorance can make for a better review, but it just might in this case. Selected ignorance, in any case. I was actually familiar with Caroline Herring's recording of The Little House Songs, an album (or musical, really) based on the 1942 book The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. I also followed the Atlanta-based Herring as she financed the album via a successful Kickstarter campaign. But the book itself? Sorry, it's one of those Caldecott Medal winners I missed. (I had to check Wikipedia for the publication date.)

So while I can't say whether the album adequately reimagines an obviously well-loved book, I can say whether it evokes a well-loved book, and on that score, it succeeds. In brief -- and I say this solely based on listening to the album (though I've now since seen the summary) -- a house is built in the country, an expanding city encroaches upon it, it falls into disrepair, a new owner falls in love with it and moves it into the country once again. Obviously there are themes of wistfulness and the passage of time, and Herring does a great job of conveying those themes musically, such as on the wistful "The City Grew Up Around Her" and "Shabby." But it's not entirely downbeat -- "Building of the Road" is an uptempo folk-rocker propulsively carried along by rhythm guitar and Herring's voice until it just slows down, while I loved the violin's mimicking of wheels on happy "House on Wheels." It's mostly folk, with some songs tending a little more country, all tastefully arranged.

Kids ages 3 through 7 will most appreciate the 25-minute album. You can listen to all of "House on Wheels" here and other clips here and here. The Little House Songs is a simple little album, made with care, much as the book that inspired it was. (It's also made me want to read the book, which is always a good sign of the quality of an interpretation in a different medium.) Herring reportedly is interested in doing more of these albums based on children's books. Based on this first attempt, I am hoping she is true to her word. Recommended.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the album in my registration bag at Kindiefest.