Media Watch

Raven, Nancy. Watersongs: Flowings from Seas & Rivers. Lizard’s Rock Music, 2006. $15.00, plus $5 S/H.

Subtitled A World-Wide Collection for Kids, Bay Area folksinger Nancy Raven has collected a wealth of songs celebrating rivers and oceans. Nearly all are traditional songs, and a few are sung in Spanish. This is her 11th CD.

Monterey resident Raven has appeared at many libraries, leading singalongs and performing folk music. She was a preschool teacher for 50 years, and sings and plays the guitar with authority and a rich alto voice. Several other Monterey musicians and singers join her on the CD, making a classic recording that will be popular for a long time.

The musical accompaniment is all acoustic instruments, from guitar to harmonica, mandolin, banjo, to various percussion instruments from around the world. The depth and richness of the musical instruments are a welcome divergence from too much of kids music done with synthesizers.

The CD includes the lyrics of each song written out in the liner notes, making it great for schools who want to use it to teach these traditional songs. Because nearly all California children live close enough to drive to the ocean, this is a relevant collection of songs for our libraries and schools. Plus, it is enjoyable even for adults to listen to in the car or at home!

Talking Nautical is a great interactive song, that teaches kids what to call things on a boat. It is a cumulative song, and should be fun for teachers taking children on a field trip on a ship.

Some well-known songs are included, from the lullaby Dance to Your Daddy to the rousing Sardines, Hey! from African-American culture. A unit on ecology, preserving our environment, or science could all incorporate songs from this collection. Geoduck Song, which features children singing with Nancy on the recording, is a great way for kids to learn about this creature.

This CD is also appropriate for geography and social studies units, due to the historical nature of many songs. There is a song from Italy, a few from Hawaii, England and Ireland, Australia, and several from the United States. Banks of the Sacramento is a shanty with the same melody as Camptown Races, and would be great for 4th grade classes learning California history.

All libraries will want this for both the children’s CD collection and for the adult folk music sections, and schools will find it beneficial, too. But parents will really welcome this collection, since it is refreshingly authentic, especially in comparison to most other children’s recordings.

Penny Peck, San Leandro Public Library
July 2007