Songs from Bear in the Big Blue House
, which sends kids two and older an open invitation to a gigglefest, is bursting at the seams with simple melodies, goofy voices and loopy, encouraging lyrics that linger. This 24-track is a testament to the late Jim Henson's genius for conjuring characters that bounce off one another with a just-right mix of confusion and harmony. An offshoot of the Disney Channel television show of the same name, Songs
boasts the familiar Muppet-like housemates: caring and compassionate Bear; Tutter the high-strung mouse; orange Ojo, a junior bear; otters Pip and Pop; and Treelo the lemur. Bear's warm baritone finds its way onto every last track--he's clearly the head of the big blue household, though hardly its pluckiest resident--but each of the other characters comes clean about a kid-pertinent issue or two on these songs, too. Ojo, for example, relates the unfairness of getting spooked by big, scary monsters every time she goes to bed on "Go to Bed, Sleepy Head", and Tutter tackles his type-A tendencies on "Take Time to Smell the Cheese" and "Quiet Time", In contrast, some of these songs are pure, message-free fun: Pip and Pop momentarily become the Salt 'n' Pepa of the puppet kingdom on "Otter Love", a hip-hoppy ode to the warm fuzzies, and Bear and Treelo bust a toe-twitching move on "The Bear Cha-Cha-Cha". Fans of the show will know most songs and appreciate their accessibility and portability on disc or tape. Those who aren't already tuned in, on the other hand, will take a shine to this oddball crew given this smartly accessible musical introduction. --Tammy La Gorce
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