I’m a 70s and 80s kid, and Akashic’s LyricPop books give me such joy. This latest one is based on The Cars’s 1978 hit, “(Let the) Good Times Roll”. Rob Sayegh Jr. brings a playful spin to this song with two cats, a ball of yarn, and a lot of imagination. The two cats play together as they create waves, rainbows, and zooming planets and stars with the yarn, frolicking through lyrics like, “Let them leave you up in the air. / Let them brush your rock and roll hair. / Let the good times roll”. It’s playful, it’s bright, it’s just fun: just what your ’80s storytime needs.
Remember back in June, when Akashic released four picture books set to pop music titles? If visions of babies in revolt, set to Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It are still stuck in your mental gears, this post is for you. Akashic has released the next four books in their LyricPop series, and they are SOOOO GOOD.
The lyrics to Eric B. and Rakim’s 1987 hit Move the Crowd come to life in this story as we see a young boy get sucked into his boom box (I’m Gen X, I know I’ve dated myself with that reference) and dropped into a world that desperately needs his help: it’s a grey, dismal world he lands in, but he brings the music, and with it, a colorful vibrancy that transforms the surroundings! Everyone gets an instrument, there’s a riot of color and movement, and sure enough, the crowd is moving! Endpapers showcase giant boom boxes, and the mixed media/cut paper artwork is just incredible, with depth and movement all coming together to tell a story that you won’t want to listen to while standing still.
All hail to the Queen! Respect, the song written by Otis Redding and made iconic by Aretha Franklin, gets its proper due as a picture book and a lesson all in one. A young girl, her family, and her friends all imagine different futures for themselves within the context of respect: a lawyer or a judge dispending justice; a doctor caring for patients; construction workers and scientists; teachers, and soldiers. All set to Otis Redding’s lyrics, with the freedom to dream of a world where everyone is equally respected and valued. Cute asides like family members, including the dog, chiming in with background “oohs” and “re, re, re, res” make this such fun to read and offer an open invitation for your littles to sing along – that’s the point! A multicultural group of children dance across the letters to the word Respect, and the artwork is colorful and cheery. A note on what “Respect” means to readers as a song and a concept, plus questions for further exploration, completes this book. Visit Akashic’s Respect page for more information on the Otis Redding Foundation, and interviews with illustrator Rachel Moss.
The song made popular by Nancy Sinatra gets a new spin in this story of a possessive cat who isn’t thrilled when a new puppy joins the family. Front endpapers show the pampered cat enjoying her human’s sole attention, but as the story unfolds, a new puppy joins the household and the cat… well, the cats gets on their walkin’ boots to fight back! Gradually, the two pets gets used to one another, sharing their human’s affections, and the back endpapers reveal the two new friends equally spending time with their human, cowboy boots and all. Adorably illustrated, this is a sweet read for animal lovers and an invitation for kids to jump up and let their own boots start walking. Let kids color in some boots printables and hang them up!
One of my all-time favorite songs, the Go-Gos hit We Got the Beat comes to gloriously neon ’80s life in this book! People and animals alike all have the beat here as they rock up and down the book. The colors are bright, popping off the page, with sunglass-wearing flamingos, horses wearing go-go boots, and super-cool kids bopping across pages. You won’t be able to sit still as you read this. Have inflatable instruments? Hand ’em out and dance to the beat!
Each book is a musical experience in your hands. Play the songs, invite your kids to dance, and hold your very own storytime dance party!
Leave to Akashic to come up with LyricPop. After giving us board books like What is Punk and What is Hip-Hop?, assuring that the next generation will grow up far cooler than mine, Akashic has gone one better and created a series presenting song lyrics, set to pictures and situations that kids and parents will love. The first four titles hit shelves on Tuesday. Check these out:
The classic reggae song by Peter Tosh lives on as a gorgeous story of unity. Peter Tosh wrote this song to remind all black people that they were part of the same community; the message powerfully resonates today. Rachel Moss uses earthy and vibrant colors to bring the world and people of Africa alive on the pages. Endpapers show proud African animals strutting across the pages, and interior artwork celebrates African culture all over the world: if you’re from Trinidad or Nassau; Cuba or America; Canada, or Taiwan. Different faiths, different colors, no matter. In Tosh’s words, “No mind your nationality, you have got the identity of an African”. Beautiful artwork, powerful lyrics to instill pride, power, and understanding. Add African to your Black Experience collections, your storytime collections, and your storytime rotations.
Wow, is my stepfather smiling down from wherever he’s spending the afterlife these days. He was the biggest Beach Boys fan I’ve ever met, and seeing Good Vibrations out in children’s book form makes me miss him all the more, because he’d have sat my kids down – yeah, even the 21- and 16-year-olds – and sang this to them. A summertime classic brought to picture book, Good Vibrations is all about a girl and her dog heading off to surf, spreading their good vibrations and excitations all around as they encounter a cast of wacky animals and people alike, from a theremin-playing alien to a polka dotted horse, to a thumbs-up giving cactus. It’s a beach party waiting for you and your little ones to dance along, and the bright, bold artwork and bubble-fonted lyrics make this just too much fun. Two-color endpapers offer a glimpse at the coast, just waiting for our main characters to jump in and surf some waves. So much fun for storytimes.
Another rock classic, Don’t Stop is a never-give-up song that we all need these days. Illustrator Nusha Ashjaee creates the story of a sweet little rabbit who’s just not having a good day. Rabbit’s wakes up to see the first spring flower poking through the snow and heads out to coax all her woodland friends out of hibernation to enjoy the spring, enduring winds and snowdrifts; eventually, though, all Rabbit’s animal buddies gather ’round to provide some encouragement and head off to have some fun. Soft colors and gentle artwork make this a good bedtime story, a pick-me-up for a hard day, or a perfect cuddle time storytime. Endpapers show Rabbit’s home in the winter, and in the spring. Gather some stuffed friends of your own around for some atmosphere, and invite your little ones to get up and dance with you – make sure they all cheer “Don’t Stop!”
Is there a more perfect song for babies and toddlers than Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It? Hilariously and adorably brought to life by illustrator Margaret McCartney, We’re Not Gonna Take It shows a group of babies in full rebellion: the shenanigans start on the cover, with toddlers gnawing on letters, whacking them with mallets, and shoving them out of alignment. These kids don’t want to eat the food being shoved at them; they’re organizing a jailbreak from the baby yard they’re stuck in. But when the Mommies catch them and try to put them down for a nap, they have just enough energy for one… more… push… YAWN. There are such fantastic little details throughout this book, including the alphabet blocks spelling out the book title on the title page; the “I’m the little sister” tee shirt one toddler is rocking in a font similar to the music group’s lettering; the complete looks of disgust on our little rebels’ faces as lyrics like, “Oh, you’re so condescending / Your gall is never-ending / We don’t want nothin’ / not a thing from you”. Endpapers are fantastic, with pictures of the babies and their duckies teddies, and toys in colorful, explosive backgrounds, and the very ’80s metal horns decorating the back endpapers. The colors are bright, popping off the page, and will definitely set a mood. This book makes my aging Gen X soul very happy, and it’ll be a perfect storytime read for your little ones – just watch out for signs of revolution afterwards.
The next round of LyricPop books is due out in October. To see those, check out Akashic’s LyricPop page, and get your pre-order fingers ready to click.