The Sunny Side of the Street

Music review by
Jan Silbermann, Common Sense Media
The Sunny Side of the Street Music Poster Image
Hamming it up, Broadway showtune style.

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age 2+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Great messages: Slow down and appreciate life, be kind to animals, eat good foods, face challenges with joy.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this album is a wonderful collection of children's songs that won't grate on your nerves. John Lithgow returns to his musical theater roots in this Grammy-nominated CD which -- due to his small band, his friendly comments during the songs, and the help of the Children's Choir of the United Nations International School -- creates a intimate feel. You can just sense silly Lithgow prancing around a stage singing these Broadway showtunes in his distinctive voice. This CD is enhanced and contains a preview of Lithgow's kids' show Paloozaville, which can be viewed on a computer.

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What's the story?

Adults hearing John Lithgow's THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET might ask, "Is that kids' music?" Indeed it is, but these kid-friendly tunes -- actually originally written to entertain adults -- end up delighting both audiences. Lithgow amasses an impressive array of talent to enhance his already considerable skills. Cabaret singer Maude Maggart sings with him on "Baby!" a song that alternates between being wryly sentimental and hysterically funny. Wayne Knight (of Seinfeld fame) banters with Lithgow on the Jimmy Durante classic "Inka Dinka Doo." The sweet and gentle "Lullaby in Ragtime" is a duet with Sherie Rene Scott. The Children's Choir of the United Nations International School is adorable in "Getting to Know You" (but tends to be intrusive on other tracks).

Is it any good?

John Lithgow is able to ham it up with accents and voice inflection to bring personality to each song without going over the top. One minute he's faking a New York City accent on "Song of the Sewer," next he's "whoo-ing" and "oh yeah-ing" on "Ya Gotta Have Pep," and then he's giving us such a belly laugh on "The Laughing Policeman." The diverse selection of songs from The Great American Songbook delivers an initial impression of levity and silliness, but there are valuable lessons contained within. The title track is about facing challenges with joy, and "Pick Yourself Up" is a peppy song about perseverance. The messages, the talent, and the song choices ensure that this CD has definite staying power.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the genre of musical theater and how it's different from generic children's music. Families can also discuss the themes in the songs: How can you be nice to plants and animals? Why is it nice to get to know people? What are the benefits of staying positive during hard times? Kids can also bring the songs outside by going to the grocery store to find foods that give you "pep" or to the botanical gardens to find some flowers to talk to.

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