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That's Suni Paz, the well known Latin American singer, with part of "Llega la Ma–ana," a song about waking up and getting dressed, and going to school -- in short, about a day in the life of a kid. It's one of her Songs for the Playground, from a recent Folkways CD, that has Ms. Paz combining her talents with those of ALERTA. That's the acronym for A Learning Environment Responsive to All -- a group of educators and musicians from the Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Teachers College of Columbia University in New York City. ALERTA was designed to create bilingual learning materials for children, in Spanish and English, mixing the play songs of the American school yard (skip rope rhymes, circle games, and activity songs) with those of Puerto Rico, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and other Latin American countries. That's why you'll find "Little Sally Walker" and "Pizza, Pizza Daddy-O" next to "El Coqui," a song about the little Puerto Rican tree frog, and "La Paraja Pinta" -- about the shy, polka dotted bird who is pining for his love. All the forty-four tracks on this refreshing, good-spirited CD have the complete texts of the songs, and English translations of the songs in Spanish, so that one won't be lost when he or she gets to the charango rhythms of the "River of Butterflies," one of the final moments of this rich and moving journey from the familiar terrain of the playgrounds of this country, to a faraway land of yearnings. The CD helps build some of those needed bridges over what can often be the chasms of language and culture -- so that children can joyfully step across.
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Copyright 2006© John Cech
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