Book Review: Rock & Roll Books

Peter Yarrow

Rock & Roll Books

The Peter Yarrow Songbook: Favorite Folk Songs

by Peter Yarrow
Sterling, 48 pp., $16.95

The Peter Yarrow Songbook: Sleepytime Songs

by Peter Yarrow
Sterling, 48 pp., $16.95

I was dubious about the intended audience for these illustrated songbooks of folk songs, spirituals, and lullabies, with an accompanying CD by famed folkie Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul & Mary fame). Yet when I sat down with my 3-year-old son, popped in the Folk Songs CD, and watched in awe as he paged carefully through the book, it hit me: We – mommies and daddies and their music-loving spawn – are the audience. Parents can admire Terry Widener's colorful and poignant illustrations while raising their eyebrows at the somewhat questionable, death- and illness-heavy lyrics of the traditional folk songs, even as little ones like mine ensure that we remain on the same page as the song currently playing. Families can sing along with Yarrow and his daughter, Bethany, to familiar favorites such as "Skip to My Lou" and "I've Been Working on the Railroad," and parents of a certain generation will welcome the presence of "Puff the Magic Dragon" on Sleepytime Songs. The packaging leaves a bit to be desired, with the discs encased in flimsy plastic inside the books' front covers, but these are otherwise high-quality songbooks sure to become family favorites for the musically inclined.

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