Album: Sleep Softly: Classical Lullabies by Brahms, Schubert, Satie, Debussy...
Age Range: 0 through 3
Description: The latest book/CD combo from Canadian publisher The Secret Mountain turns to music decades -- OK, mostly centuries -- old to produce a classical lullaby album. L'Ensemble Agora is a French sextet known for setting children's literature to music, so they know their way around playing for kids, though one would hope that in a concert setting they're trying to engage their audience, rather than put them to sleep.
There are dozens -- hundreds? -- of classical lullaby albums, so what's distinctive about this one? Well, these are mostly short pieces (in some cases mere excerpts, I believe), and many of them are specifically lullabies (as opposed to relaxing pieces of classical music). It's also distinctive in that it's a book, though the book is geared more towards the adult than the 18-month-old who just won't fall asleep -- Elodie Nouhen's detailed, dream-like illustrations will be appreciated more by older kids and adults, and the explanatory notes are definitely for adults. I suppose that's not surprising, as that target audience of 18-month-olds can't read, so why provide kid-focused liner notes? But in its chief task, of calming and reassuring the child (and, to some extent, the parent), Sleep Softly succeeds -- everything else is just bonus. Recommended.