Category Archives: music

Little People Big Dreams: Ella Fitzgerald

Written by: Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara

Illustrated by: Bàrbara Alca

For ages: 4-7 years

Language: English 

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Figures, Women in Music, Musicians, Trailblazers, Biography, Black Culture & Identity. 

Summary: Ella was a young girl fascinated with performing and music.  When she was 15, her mother died and radically changed her life.  Running away from a reform school, she began performing.  Two years later Ella won a contest at a nightclub and was discovered by Chick Webb, a big name in jazz at the time.  This jumpstarted her career, turning her into the First Lady of Song, as she is now known!

This is a basic overview of the prolific singer that is Ella Fitzgerald, and a good book for an introduction to the subject.  We really love the timeline in the back of the book with the photos of Ella throughout her career.  This book, like the other books in the series, is adorable!

This book was sent in consideration of the Best Books of 2019 list by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (an imprint of Quarto), but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

maria-isabel-sanchez-vegara-2Mª Isabel Sanchez Vegara was born in Barcelona, Spain, and she is a writer and creative director perhaps best known as the author of much of the Little People, Big Dreams series. Six years ago, she decided to self-publish a book that had been in her mind for a long time. One day, one thousand copies of arrived at her home – she had no idea what she was going to do with them! She opened a little online shop, placed them to some pretty stores in her neighborhood and, one by one, she sold them all. Soon, publishing houses started to approach her to write books, but she was working on another idea of her own: a series about little people with BIG dreams. Each book tells the childhood story of one of the world’s female icons in an entertaining, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers, allowing them to identify with the characters in each story.

DeHda4TXUAAg0LNBàrbara Alca is an “extremely beautiful and enthusiastic Graphic Designer, Comic Artist and Illustrator based in Barcelona.

I make my own zines, work as a freelance illustrator for press such as El País, Ajuntament de Palma, El Jueves, Revista Cactus, and for editorial projects with Planeta, Alba Editorial and Sapristi.

Most of my work is mixed media, hand drawn lines with digital colouring.

I have a dark sense of humour, but I also love lace and bows which results in an eclectic style.”

Little People Big Dreams: Dolly Parton

Written by: Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara

Illustrated by: Daria Solak

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Historical Figure, Musical Artist, Women in Music, Biography, Philanthropy, Feminist. 

Summary: Dolly Parton is a human that we do not deserve, she is such a gem!  This book follows the story of her life for a young reader, from a young girl with 11 siblings to being one of the most well-known musical artists of all time.

Dolly started singing young, and was working steadily on radio when she was 10.  She became incredibly well-known and toured extensively by herself in her signature big hair and sparkly dresses.  Something we love about Dolly is how much she sticks true to herself and wears whatever she wants, no matter what else anyone says (even if it’s derogatory).  She continually champions the LGBTQ community and even has her own theme park in Tennessee, Dollywood!  Something else she has done to give back to her community is the Imagination Library, which sends monthly books for free to children who sign up.  Dolly continues to inspire and perform to this day, because she’s a complete badass.

This book was sent in consideration of the Best Books of 2019 list by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (an imprint of Quarto), but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

maria-isabel-sanchez-vegara-2Mª Isabel Sanchez Vegara was born in Barcelona, Spain, and she is a writer and creative director perhaps best known as the author of much of the Little People, Big Dreams series. Six years ago, she decided to self-publish a book that had been in her mind for a long time. One day, one thousand copies of arrived at her home – she had no idea what she was going to do with them! She opened a little online shop, placed them to some pretty stores in her neighborhood and, one by one, she sold them all. Soon, publishing houses started to approach her to write books, but she was working on another idea of her own: a series about little people with BIG dreams. Each book tells the childhood story of one of the world’s female icons in an entertaining, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers, allowing them to identify with the characters in each story.

daria-solak_1_origDaria Solak is a proud 90s kid. She studied graphic design at Art Academy in Warsaw and Bologna.  Daria is a full-time girl and illustrator, living in London by choice.  Daria is addicted to crayons, coffee and children books*

*(and following dogs on social media)

Q&A with Alastair Moock!

Happy Saturday!  Our Week of Music is continuing to rock, and we’ve boogied through a whole week already!  Luckily, we have one more special music-related book to review for tomorrow.  But, let’s focus on today!  Yesterday we learned a bit about Alastair’s music, so today we’ll learn about him!  Hope everyone is having a great day, and keep on rockin’ 🙂

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Photo by Michael D. Spencer

The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself!

Alastair Moock: I’m Alastair Moock. Among other things, I perform for kids and families and also present assembly programs and workshops in schools around social justice history.

 

 

TTA: What are you passionate about?

AM: Educating and inspiring through music.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!

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Billie Jean King

AM: I’m currently working on an album all about leadership and activism. It looks to the
heroes of our past (Dr. King, Harvey Milk, Billie Jean King, Pete Seeger, Rosa Parks,
Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez) and our present (Malala Yousafzai, the Parkland student
protestors) to inspire our kids to move the ball forward. I wrote the songs over the past year, and we begin recording at the beginning of October.

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

AM: I’ll be doing a fundraising campaign for this album, my first in many years. I don’t
generally ask fans for money up front like this, but I have a good reason this time: I want
to get this album, and my assembly programs, into the hands of kids and schools that
might not otherwise be able to afford them. Through this campaign, every time a
supporter buys a CD, I’ll give one away to a kid or teacher. I’ll also be providing free
assemblies and programs to Head Start programs and underserved schools.

7109Acm8ueLTTA: What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?

AM: Right now I’m digging Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

AM: Recording this new album!

 

About the Artist:

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Alastair Moock is a 2014 GRAMMY Nominee, two-time Parents’ Choice Gold Medal Winner, recipient of the ASCAP Joe Raposo Children’s Music Award, and has twice been voted by the Fids & Kamily Industry Critics’ Poll among the Top 3 Albums of the Year. Long one of Boston’s premier folk artists, Alastair turned his attention to family music after the birth of his twins in 2006. The New York Times calls him “a Tom Waits for kids” and The Boston Globe declares that, “in the footsteps of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, Alastair Moock makes real kids music that parents can actually enjoy.” Moock and Friends’ live shows are rowdy, rootsy, singin’ and dancin’ fun for the whole family!

Alastair Moock-Social justice music for children!

For ages: any age can groove to Alastair’s tunes

Language: English

Topics Covered: social justice, racism, white supremacy, feminism, education, self-expression, identity, freedom, and self-acceptance.

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Moock’s annual PoP show takes place November 16th at Club Passim

Summary: Today we share an artist whose quirky, thoughtful lyrics spice up the children’s music that he makes. The well-established genre is refreshed by Alastair Moock’s rambunctious, rootsy rhythms. While Moock is working up a new album titled “Be A Pain” and preparing for shows at Club Passim in Cambridge, MA on November 16th, a performance of “Just Kidding: Alastair Moock” at New York City’s Symphony Space, as well as a Holiday Family show at Beverly, MA’s Cabot Theater, we wanted to highlight the awesome work that he has been putting out consistently since he began performing music for children over 10 years ago!51J6U25421L._SY355_

Moock started his career performing his brand of Americana for adults in 1995, but with the birth of twin daughters in 2006, he turned to music that families could listen and sing to together. A standout track from his 2009 children’s album A Cow Says Moock is “Two Mommies” a catchy ode to different family structures. After each example is sung (two mommies, two daddies etc.) Moock and his chorus of adults and children validate the family by adding “and that’s all right with me”. The easy rocking beat and repeated lyrics make this a song that even toddlers can understand and sing along to.

UnknownWhen Moock’s daughter Clio was diagnosed with leukemia at age 5, he wrote “When I Get Bald” a goofy, good-natured take on an especially challenging subject. The heartwarming video for the song features Alastair, his daughter Clio and band mates in a barber shop, and while they begin the video with full heads of hair, the same cannot be said when the song is done! Normalizing and validating, the song is a tribute to all the silly things he will do when he’s bald!

“Make It Great” off of 2016’s eponymous album is a tongue-in-cheek acoustic track where Alastair takes phrases often heard about how great America is which follows a very familiar structure, all the way up until the dry delivery of the final line of the verse. He sneaks in the truth after having lulled the listener with propoganda, and reminds listeners that what survives of “history” is a narrow story with many very important players are forcibly left out of the narrative. Moock’s style of Americana with a southern twang assists him in this delivery, and plays with the lowest common denominator of things identified as “American” and “southern” (both huge concepts) and challenges preconceived notions about genre and geographic prejudice.

We cannot recommend Alistair’s music enough, and if his videos are anything to go on, you need to see him the next time he’s in your neck of the woods! Or, better yet, invite him to come to you, and learn about hosting a house concert!

About the Artist:

4076dd-20180509-alastair-moock-02
Photo by Michael D. Spencer

Alastair Moock is a 2014 GRAMMY Nominee, two-time Parents’ Choice Gold Medal Winner, recipient of the ASCAP Joe Raposo Children’s Music Award, and has twice been voted by the Fids & Kamily Industry Critics’ Poll among the Top 3 Albums of the Year. Long one of Boston’s premier folk artists, Alastair turned his attention to family music after the birth of his twins in 2006. The New York Times calls him “a Tom Waits for kids” and The Boston Globe declares that, “in the footsteps of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, Alastair Moock makes real kids music that parents can actually enjoy.” Moock and Friends’ live shows are rowdy, rootsy, singin’ and dancin’ fun for the whole family!

Q&A with Ants on a Log

Ants on a Log

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Julie (left) and Anya (right) together make up the band Ants on a Log

You all learned about the album Curious yesterday, so now it’s time to learn a little bit more about the minds behind Ants on a Log!  Julie and Anya have a multitude of activities, interests, and creative passions.  We feel lucky to have been able to catch up with them and bring you this short and sweet Q&A!  The only thing we need more information about is Harpo the dog (our people have called Harpo’s people and we are eagerly awaiting an interview 😉 ) Enjoy, lovely humans!
The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself/your organization!

Ants on a Log: Ants on a Log is Julie (they/them) and Anya (she/her). We play fun, harmony-driven, socially conscious music for children and families in Philadelphia and beyond. When we’re not on stage, Julie is a music therapist and assistant director at Camp Aranu’tiq, and Anya is an elementary school science teacher.

TTA: What are you passionate about?images

AoaL: Songwriting, trees, communal living, housing equity, learning about human behavior, teaching, eradicating plastic water bottles, Harpo the dog, our next big musical journey. We are also passionate (and sometimes exhausted) about feminism and gender
freedom, and how we can influence a next generation of people who are kind and
curious.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!

UnknownAoaL: We just released the soundtrack to our musical, “Curious: Think Outside the Pipeline!” which feels like both the end and the beginning of a journey. “Curious” is an
eco-feminist musical about a young girl and her non-binary sibling who work together to organize their community in fighting for clean air and renewable energy. The siblings
persevere in the face of distracted politicians, greedy businessmen, and even their mansplaining Uncle Steve. Hope and community prevail, aided by humor, scientific
research, a dancing pencil, and songful neighbors. We will perform “Curious” a few more times in 2020 and then we’ll start on a new album and perhaps even a new musical!

TTA:  How can people support you on your journey?

51YHFwxluoL._SY355_AoaL: What a lovely question, thank you! Listening to our music and giving our CDs as gifts is the best. Sharing our music videos is great too. And for those who really want to help us sustain our work as socially conscious musicians for kids, supporting us on Patreon is very helpful. We have recently been on a mission to reach audiences beyond Philly, and we’ve learned that each follower on FB, Instagram, etc. really does make a difference.  Beyond the music, you can support our mission by learning to use non-binary pronouns, using less plastic, and figuring out how to confront that mansplainer in your life (we hope our song “Air and Space” is of use to you in this area). Thanks for supporting in any and all of the above ways!

TTA:  What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?A1Tt4ZgmO+L

AoaL: Anya loved Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (adult).
Julie loved Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love. (Pre-K–2).

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

AoaL: We have been blown away by the youth-led climate change movement. We can’t wait to see how Greta Thunberg continues to change the world and make waves. Can she please be President of the World?

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Stay Connected with Ants on a Log!

Ants on a Log Website

YouTube Channel

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

Q&A with the Alphabet Rockers

Happy Tuesday!  We typically would wait until Saturday to do Q&A’s but during our Week of Music anything can happen!  Can you tell just how exciting our lives are? Anyways, jokes about our thrilling lives aside, we are more than excited to be able to bring you more information about The Alphabet Rockers.  This dynamic duo is the driving force behind a myriad of great music and social justice action.  Hope you enjoy our chat as much as we did!

The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself/your organization!

AboutAlphabetRockers-PhotobyKristin-Chalmers
Photo by Kristin Chalmers

Alphabet Rockers: We are cofounders – Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd – and we’ve been making hip hop as an Alphabet Rockers crew since 2007. Coming together in Oakland at that time, we were excited to make fun music for young families that enhanced learning but we’ve grown with the times. The learning we lift up in our music is no longer ABC’s and tying shoes- it’s gender justice for trans and non-binary kids, it’s Black liberation and joy, it’s the beauty of migration and welcoming immigrants…it’s a world where we can all be free. We bring this music to 50 schools across the country each year, to libraries and to big stages like the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in DC and the Kennedy Center in NYC.

TTA: What are you passionate about?

AR: Creating a world free from racial and gender bias. Youth activism. And hip hop.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!iconsquare39029970-C4E0-4666-81EEBD46B0F69D49

AR: Right now, it’s all about The Love. Our new album is currently on the GRAMMY ballot (keeping fingers crossed for a second nomination), and we have big shows lined up to premiere the album including the Oakland Life is Living Festival and SF Jazz this fall. After a year bringing together almost 60 guests artists and centering representational LGBTQ+ voices, we can’t wait to give it all away. We say “The Love is for You” because this album lifts up so many perspectives. Whether you are listening as an ally, a trans child, a queer artist or a two-spirit activist waiting to hear your native land honored, we’ve got you. YOU are the love.

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

Screen Shot 2019-11-03 at 9.44.50 AMAR: Subscribe to our So Get Me podcast for families making change. Listen to it anywhere you get your podcasts and you’ll hear our young Rockers share their activism- like The Butterfly Effect project lead by Lily (10) and Kaia (11). They have rallied folks to make and display 15,000 butterflies to symbolize each child being held in a detention center at the border. You can hear them on our podcast along with activist authors Kate Schatz and Innosanto Nagara who are both fans of our music. Also, download The Love. Really listen. Let it move you into action.

TTA: What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?81fUyRgp9LL

AR: We got a sneak peek of Innosanto Nagara’s M is for Movement that comes out
November 2019 and we LOVED it! Wait ’til you see the gorgeous artwork and dig into
the story of one child born at the rise of a movement.

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

AR: This year we welcome a new baby into the Rocker family (Kaitlin just had her second!) so that’s a huge bright spot- reminding us what all this is for and expanding our crew. Also making room for our young rockstars to shine on stage- Lil’ Tommy (11), Kali (11), Maia (10) and Lily (10) are bringing their voices, ideas and spirits forward more everyday. Just looking forward to bringing our art to the world during this particular time in history. When they throw shade…we throw shine.

2017 AlphabetRockers_Photo2 -PhotoBySteveJennings
Photo By Steve Jennings

Current badass work The Alphabet Rockers

are doing with other groups:

On Saturday, November 16th from 3-4pm at Lake Merritt Amphitheater in Oakland, The Butterfly Effect will host a rally featuring youth speakers and performances by the Grammy-nominated Alphabet Rockers, and Destiny Arts Center youth. Nancy Ukai, a Japanese American whose family are internment camp survivors and who is an activist with Tsuru for Solidarity, will also speak at the event. On display will be 15,000 butterflies created by the community as a sign of friendship and support to the children in detention. 

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To join the effort, and for more information about The Butterfly Effect,

visit https://butterflyeffectmigration.org

Youth are available for interviews.

2019b- Alphabet Rockers Creators - Photo by Kristin Chalmers
Photo by Kristin Chalmers

Stay connected with The Alphabet Rockers!

Alphabet Rockers Website

Instagram: @alphabetrockers #TheLOVE

The Love-Alphabet Rockers

Featured Artists and Guest Artists:

Alphabet Rockers - HighRes Photo by NinoFernandez
Photo by Nino Fernandez

Over 60 guest artists join the Alphabet Rockers co-founders, Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd. Voices from our next generation — Lillian Ellis, Maya Fleming, Kali de Jesus and Tommy “T3PO” Shepherd III, as well as 123 Andrés, Angel & Koja Adeyoha, Aris Wong, Ashanti Branch, Billy Dean Thomas, Celestina Pearl and Esperanza Carter-Pearl, Genevieve Goings, H. Daniel Mujahid, Harlow Carpenter, Honey Mahogany, Jennifer Johns, Juan “Wonway Posibul” Amador, Kanyon “CoyoteWoman” Sayers-Roods, KARLON, Kiran Nagraj, Lucy Kalantari, M. Zamora, MADLines, Mahawam, Malachi Garza, mariposa & AmihanCh’íníbaa’, Michelle “CHELLE” Jacques, Mike McCann, Nizhoni & Pálxcqíwn Ellenwood, Okee Dokee Brothers, Rei Matsuno, Rhonda Crane, RyanNicole, Samara Atkins, SaulPaul, Shaina Evoniuk, The Singing Bois, Sólás B. Lalgee, Yaw, Yiann, Zumbi Zoom.

For ages: Humans of all ages can groove to these beats!
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Image via Kanyon Konsulting LLC

Language: Primarily English and Spanish, but features many other languages in songs such as This is Ohlone Land which acknowledges the variety of indigenous groups and languages of Oakland, CA, where the album was recorded.

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Non-Binary Identity, Transgender Activism, Radical Joy, Self-Love, Cultural Consciousness and Pride, Self-Expression, Respect for All, Survival, Black Gxrl Magic, Ancestral Power and Healing, Strength, and Truth.

 

Summary:

It is impossible to sit silent and still when listening

to the Alphabet Rocker’s album The Love.

The album begins with a respectful acknowledgement of the land on which it was recorded, setting the stage for the thoughtful and transformational nature of the album.  Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd cover a wide range of topics artfully and powerfully.  In other hands and different voices the album could be heavy-handed and preachy, but by allowing the guest artists featured on the album to speak their truth, McGaw and Shepherd spread the love and recognition across the board.

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Art by Ruth Azul

The Love is joyful, realistic but also hopeful, which can be an extremely challenging balance to strike-and they do it expertly.  The music and lyrics recognize the struggle and work of past generations and queer people of color from the far reaches of history like Hatshepsut to Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, founders of STAR, the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries as well as today’s activists like two-spirit Representative Sharice Davids of Kansas.

sharice
(R-KS) Sharice Davids

The album’s lyrics could easily parrot the “everything is sunshine and rainbows!” or “life is suffering” binary found in many narratives.  Instead, the artists both acknowledge the injustice heaped upon marginalized groups and create a sense of hope that emanates from songs like “Black Gxrl Magic.”  This faith in the promise of the future is fired up by “the next generation” of voices, empowered young people who speak their mind clearly and energetically.

We loved the small photos with pronouns of all the other artists featured on the album!  It allowed us to get to know each artist as an individual, and provided a visual reference for the wide range of personalities, identities and cultures represented in the fantastic music. The explicit celebration of the many intersections of queerness and cultural identity is refreshing and radical, as so many queer narratives are whitewashed and simplified to appeal to a larger audience. The Alphabet Rockers recognize the truth of the windows and mirrors approach that we reference here at the Tiny Activist; that honoring the distinct identities of people who are not like you creates more space for everyone.

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The Gender Wheel by Maya Gonzalez

One feature of the album that we particularly enjoyed were the interludes, especially They/Them, where each speaker introduces themselves with their pronouns.  It was powerful recognizing that children are able to grasp and see the importance this practice, especially when so many adults can’t be bothered to do the same. It gives us great hope that the next generation will be more open and accepting from a young age.The interludes create a space for dialogue, and they echo the practice found in other hip-hop albums, presenting more voices and personalities to be heard (both literally and figuratively).

Thinking in terms of incorporating this album in a class or community space, the short interludes allow for breaks and group discussion. The lyrics are thoughtful and complex in their understanding of culture and intersectionality, but easy to follow along with. The language is accessible and the lyrics are nuanced, subverting the tradition of simplifying concepts and wording in music produced for children.

The songs in this album went by so quickly, and it hardly seemed like 17 tracks! The Love should be in every classroom, so bring on the social justice dance parties!

About the Artists:

AboutAlphabetRockers-PhotobyKristin-Chalmers
Photo by Kristin Chalmers

ALPHABET ROCKERS make music that makes change. Led by Kaitlin McGaw (she/her) and Tommy Shepherd (he/him), they create brave spaces to shape a more equitable world through hip hop. Their GRAMMY nominated 2018 album, Rise Shine #Woke has reached 300K kids and families since its release, inspiring American kids to stand up to hate and be their brave and beautiful selves. Their latest album, The Love (2019) lifts up voices of our trans, two-spirit and gender non-conforming community.

With headlining performances at Lollapalooza, The Kennedy Center, San Francisco Pride Festival, Art & Soul Festival (Oakland) and Kidchella (Philadelphia), and in over 50 schools across the country each year, diverse audiences love their contemporary sound and positive messages. They were Izzy Award Winners in 2018, American Library Association’s Top Album in 2017 and 2018, and won the Parents’ Choice Award for their 5-album catalogue. Alphabet Rockers appeal to a broad audience with lyrics like “I will stand up for you” and “I shine in my beautiful skin,” landing them in the top 5 songs of 2018 on Kids Place Live SiriusXM Radio. Their music, videos, concerts and curriculum are designed by an intercultural team of anti-bias thought leaders, educators, artists, parents and young people of all genders.

YOU KNOW I GOT YOU, SO GET ME!