Putumayo Kids has added French Playground to their growing repertoire of international music for children. Popular children's artists from their respective regions perform twelve songs reflecting the rich musical culture of France, Canada, the Caribbean, and Africa. The styles range from French chanson to Gypsy jazz.
The CD booklet includes background information on each artist and song. It also includes lyrics in French and English. Keep in mind that these songs reflect French culture, but they may not reflect your family's values. I found that I liked the lyrics to about half of the songs. However, my children could not understand a word, so it was not a problem! We all enjoyed the variety of rhythms and styles.
Five of the twelve songs are sweet and appropriate for all children. They include songs about ladybugs, Paris, the island of Mauritius, and ice-skating in Canada. Another one of the songs is a child's loving memory of his grandparents, but some parents might be uncomfortable with the grandfather watching a beautiful singer on television: "She was a goddess to him/You could have sworn he was praying in front of the TV."
One somewhat depressing song is all about wanting to be valued by others: "I wish I were wonderful/So that I may finally be appreciated." Then there is a song full of lovely memories of going picnicking as a family, but the environmentally sensitive song ends on a low note with the family leaving a mess of litter: "Poor little planet!"
Four more songs were too odd and/or inappropriate for my family. One is about an undertaker who thinks of nothing but food, even during funerals: "The priest's prayers seem to have no end/I'm going to give up the ghost/When I think of my steak." Another is about a family gathering that involves a lot of drinking, saucy jokes, and remembrances of family prayers: "For a long time I thought God was Italian/Now I know he is American." Another unusual song is about a 240-pound man learning to accept himself: "I don't have time to complain/About my crooked nose/Or to feel bad about someone/Who laughs at my big tushy/I walk around with my potbelly/And I don?t care what happens/My wife likes it/And that's lucky for me." Finally, one song is all about the sensation of loving someone: "You make my body shake/It's a sensation that gives me the chills/I can?t control it anymore."
Putumayo Kids supports the International Federation Terre des Hommes, a network of ten organizations throughout the United States and Canada. This organization supports the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, and 1% of the proceeds from each sale goes to "make it a reality" in the lives of disadvantaged children around the world. You may want to look into this controversial convention and decide if you want to support it.
If you are looking for music to supplement a foreign language study, visit www.putumayokids.com and see their growing list of international music for children.