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Brooklyn Band Makes Literate Music For The Littles


The phrase kids music might make you think of songs about the ABCs or about counting. But not all kids' musicians target their songs only at your favorite kindergartener. Our kids music reviewer, Stefan Shepherd, reviews the latest from a band with a reading list more advanced than "Dick and Jane."


DEEDLE DEEDLE DEES: (Singing) Cool papa, cool, cool papa, cool papa, cool papa bell. Swing papa, swing, swing papa, swing papa, swing papa bell.

STEFAN SHEPHERD, BYLINE: That's "Cool Papa Bell," a track from Brooklyn band the Deedle Deedle Dees, off their latest album "Strange Dees, Indeed." With a blog featuring book suggestions for their school-aged fans - and their parents - they may be the best-read band in kids' music. The stories in those books often find their way into their songs and on this album, the band sings about topics such as Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence, the letters between John and Abigail Adams, and Marie Curie smuggling radium out of France.


DEES: (Singing) Marie Curie left Paris with a suitcase full of radium. Excuse me, are you Marie Curie, was the soldier's question. Oh, that's not me. I'm not Marie Curie. No, sir. That's not me. That's not me. I'm not Marie Curie. No, sir. That's not me.

SHEPHERD: While the songs of "Schoolhouse Rock" focused on events, the Dees are just as interested in the personalities behind those events. They give just enough information to hook their audience into finding out more on their own. They wrap these stories into songs with sing-along choruses.


DEES: (Singing) Oh, there's 33 of us went all the way and back. Only one, she's the one, baby on her back. Sacagawea, Sacagawea...

SHEPHERD: "Sacagawea" is their attempt at a Freddie Mercury-style Queen song; a track that captures the band's energetic live performances. Throughout the album, the Deedle Deedle Dees never forget the most important rule of teaching - kids won't learn anything if they're bored by how the material is delivered.


DEES: (Singing) He tried to find the Northwest Passage, away from (unintelligible). Henry, are you gonna find a way? He found an island and a river, sailed around what we call New York City. Henry, are you gonna find a way? We say ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, ay. Henry, how you gonna find a way?

SIEGEL: Stefan Shepherd reviewed the album "Strange Dees, Indeed" by the Deedle Deedle Dees. Stefan reviews kid's music at Zooglobble.com.


DEES: (Singing) How you gonna find a way? Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.