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Peanut Butter Pie

Maybe kids have been ruined by the cartoonization of culture, the proliferation of video images that make words seem dreary by comparison.

Or maybe I have. Evidence: Tom Paxton’s perfectly adequate new collection leaves me cold. Peanut Butter Pie consists of 15 well-written songs, sung expressively. But only one of them has the kind of originality and wit that makes me want to tell you about it. The title song explores the healing ! properties of peanut butter pie, a bite of which turns a sour principal’s face to “bliss.” The rollicking tune matches Paxton’s folksy style. Back to the usual fare: paeans to ketchup and mashed potatoes; ballads and lesson songs, like “ABC,” a clever alphabet song, and “E I Addie Addie O,” a cleverer study in vowel sounds. Both are utterly forgettable, which limits their teaching value. Other songs combine bluegrass and fancy (dinosaurs playing in the park, for example). But they’re not fanciful enough to compete with, say, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or singable enough to compensate. B-

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