The Good Ms. Padgett is something of a throwback, in these days of ultrahip, genre-hopping children's music. Her second kids' CD, The Good Ms. Padgett Sings the Little Red Hen and Other Stories, contains four classic children's stories told in a combination of spoken word and song, with acoustic-guitar accompaniment that put me immediately in a retro frame of mind, as if I'd suddenly switched on an old TV set and found myself watching Carole and Paula on The Magic Garden. (I suppose I am forgetting that retro is ultrahip...)
But Padgett, whose real first name is Anna rather than The Good Ms., knows what she's doing. She honed her storytelling skills in front of some of our nation's most demanding audiences—Brooklyn preschoolers—and it shows. (It doesn't hurt, of course, that she has naturally great pacing and a lovely singing voice.)
She's savvy enough to have chosen stories—including one of my own childhood favorites, the Billy Goats Gruff—that fall into repeating patterns, allowing for the kind of musical repetition that hooks preschool-age kids immediately. They learn the simple melody the first time through, and then can sing along themselves each time the pattern comes around again.
Yes, Pete Seeger and hundreds before him have been using this technique for years, but there's a reason for that: It works. As proof, I offer up my three-year-old, Griff, who was mesmerized by The Good Ms. from hello. Since he is not, as a rule, mesmeriz-able at this age by anything, even ice cream, for much more than a minute, that's a pretty serious recommendation right there.
[Cover image courtesy of The Good Ms. Padgett]