EW.com's online-only parents guide: Get our thoughts on new kid-friendly releases from Jack Johnson and Laurie Berkner
Jack Johnson, Sing-a Longs and Lullabies for the film Curious George


The Laurie Berkner Band

We Are?The Laurie Berkner Band (DVD, Razor & Tie)

Kids Corner: Our thoughts on ”We Are…the Laurie Berkner Band”

Here’s what’s great about listening to folk-pop singer Laurie Berkner, who has clearly helped spearhead the whole cool-music-for-kids (and hence their grateful parents) trend: Her voice is so rich, so textured, so full of flavor — kind of like what Victor and Freddie consume on her single ”Victor Vito” (”They ate their rice/ They ate their beans/ They ate their rutebaga/ And they ate their collard greens”) — that you can almost see and taste everything as she delivers it. It’s fun for kids to imagine and act out her very clever, narrative songs.

What’s not so great about seeing a collection of music videos from Berkner (and her band, including husband/bassist Brian Mueller and keyboardist Susie Lampert) is that the very imagination that the lyrics spark is dulled, and taking in her music becomes a much more passive experience (to be fair, it is fun to actually see a pig on Laurie’s head, though she doesn’t, as the lyrics playfully suggest, keep it there all day). The DVD comes with an audio CD of five tracks, all but one (”Walk Along the River”) previously released. If your little ones are really hankering to see Berkner in all her ROYGBIV-wardrobe glory, skip the video store and tune her in on Noggin, Nickelodeon’s commercial-free channel for preschoolers, where she regularly appears on Jack’s Big Music Show. Grade: B-

Recommended ages: 2 and up


Jack Johnson and Friends

Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George (CD, Brushfire Records)

Our thoughts on Jack Johnson’s ”Curious George” soundtrack

Jack Johnson has created a collection of 13 songs for the Curious George movie that’s incredibly appropriate for the title character — at times energetic, cheerful, and pleasing in a simple, quiet kind of way. Think of him as a John Mayer for gummy-worm eaters. At one recent viewing of the film, rows of kids’ heads were bopping and adults’ toes were tapping to the upbeat opening number, ”Upside Down.” But it’s the lullabies, or ”baby songs,” as one grown-up 2-year old called them — ”Talk of the Town” and ”With My Own Two Hands” (the latter featuring Ben Harper) — that are especially appealing. Grade: A-

Recommended ages: 2 and up