EW.com's parents' guide (week of March 20): We review a fun CD for tykes, and a good read for teens
Credit: Justin Roberts: Todd Rosenberg

Reviews: A fun CD for tykes, and a good read for teens

Justin Roberts (CD, Carpet Square Records)
Life can be hard when reaching the water fountain still seems like climbing Everest. It’s clear that Justin Roberts is still in touch with those feelings. His 13-song album deals with such rites of passage as taking off your training wheels, getting glasses, and welcoming a new sibling, all from the point of view of those whose backpacks are far bigger than themselves.

A former Montessori preschool teacher, Roberts knows how to get his point across, and he does it with lyrics (not to mention a rockin’ guitar) that are pure fun. Some worth noting:

In the upbeat ”I Chalk,” in which Roberts conjugates a new verb: ”My paintings were gone/ Because they fed the lawn/ But I will start again/ You can’t stop us with those sprinklers on the block/ ‘Cause I chalk.”

In the James Tayloresque ”My Brother Did It” (otherwise known in many houses as ”the blame game”): ”Momma wants to know who spilled the milk/ Ate that chocolate cake right out of the fridge/ My brother did it/ He did it.”

In the betcha-can’t-help-but-sing-along ”Get Me Some Glasses”: ”I’ma gonna be like Momma/ I’ma gonna be like Dad/ I’ma gonna get me some glasses/ So I see far away/ Still, it’s all the same to me, just as long as I can see/ Every bird, every bee, every leaf on every tree/ Every star and golden sea.”

So the former teacher definitely deserves his A. — Eileen Clarke
Recommended ages: 3 and up

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life
Book by Dana Reinhardt (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House, $15.95)
Seated at dinner one night with her impossibly blond family, 16-year-old Simone — olive-skinned, almond-eyed — gets the shock of her life: Her birth mother, Rivka, suddenly wants to meet her. Simone is devastated by the news: ”I can’t speak. There’s a swarm of bees in my head.” Overcome by the usual pressures facing a teenager (she’s got a crush on the barista at the Organic Oasis; her best friend, Cleo, has suddenly developed enormous breasts and gotten a boyfriend), Simone resists so much as calling Rivka. But when she does, and the fateful meeting is arranged, she gets another shock — one that shakes her to her very core. In this graceful, compelling coming-of-age novel, Simone learns that the definition of daughter, and of family, are far more complex than she ever imagined. ATina Jordan
Recommended ages: 14 and up