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Chris Willman reviews Metallica, Coldplay, and Radiohead for kids

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Chris Willman reviews Metallica, Coldplay, and Radiohead for kids

CDs

Rockabye Baby!
Lullaby Renditions of…Radiohead, Coldplay, Metallica
(CDs, Baby Rock)

I once asked Chris Martin if there was anything he and the missus played to achieve ”the Mozart effect” with their newborn Apple and he responded, ”I think it’s a good idea for a baby to arrive in the world with Sigur Rós playing, you know what I mean?” I wasn’t sure I did, but now there’s a line of tribute albums ostensibly aimed at the underserved infant demographic. And while Martin may be disappointed that the Rockabye Baby! series lacks a Sigur Rós entry, he can take comfort — or alarm — in Coldplay itself meriting an instrumental lullabies collection, alongside Radiohead and Metallica.

All three sets satisfy as cross-category goofs, like those reggae tributes to Pink Floyd or bluegrass homages to Van Halen. The Metallica one, with its repetitious riffage, is useful primarily as a gag gift; Coldplay’s, with its sweeter melodies, is the one you’d more readily allow in a nursery. But the superior Radiohead set benefits first from ”singsongy” melodies that translate well to the, um, genre, then from complex structures that make six minutes of glockenspiel and vibraphone actually absorbing. Will babies pick up on the minor chords that turn even initally pleasant tunes like ”No Surprises” tense, and wind up nervous, albeit brainy, Kid A’s? We’ll see in 18 years. Radiohead: A- Coldplay: B- Metallica: C+Chris Willman

Trout Fishing in America
My Best Day
(CD, Trout Music)
Ages 4 and up

TFIA’s popular folk duo of Ezra Idlet and Keith Grimwood commemorate their 13th album with a career-spanning concert recording, casting plenty of fun kids’ fare (like the wild ”Alien in My Nose” and the woolly ”My Hair Had a Party Last Night”) as well as some grown-up numbers (”Alberta Postcard”). New tunes, like the rockin’ tale of embarrassment ”My Pants Fell Down,” show the Grammy-nominated pair haven’t lost their zany inner child. B+Michael Berick

TV

Handy Manny
(TV, Disney Channel; debuts Sept. 16, 10 a.m.)
Ages 3-7

The travails of a Latino handyman, voiced with unusual restraint by That ’70s Show’s Wilmer Valderrama, and his feuding tools (Turner the flathead screwdriver vs. Felipe the Phillips) make a pleasant-enough Bob the Builder clone. But it’s clear that a sensitivity chip is missing when creators make a Latino character blue-collar, throw in a few palabras, and serve it up as a multiculti treat. Would they have had Dr. Huxtable hauling trash? One bright spot: Los Lobos’ theme song. B-Eileen Clarke

BOOK

EW PICK

Pick Me Up: Stuff You Need to Know…
By Roger Bridgman and Philip Wilkinson
Ages 12 and up

Since it isn’t alphabetical, at first glance Pick Me Up, a sort of Schott’s Miscellany for kids, looks like nothing more than a compendium of bizarre facts. But upon closer inspection it does have logic: For example, the pages on human rights are followed by the history of flags — and, after that, the history of graffiti. It’s beautifully designed, with vivid graphics and an irresistible cover. I defy kids — and adults — not to pick it up. ATina Jordan

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