Songs written to support the literacy strategy often demean both music and language. The 11 songs in this pack, featuring a cast of Scottish children and the helpful and melodious schoolkeeper, Mr McGinty, strike a cheerful, effective balance between pleasure and instruction.
Six pieces for infants deal with capital letters, adjectives, plurals and simple sentence construction. Complementing general linguistic rules with gently comic examples, opportunities are also provided for children to call out answers, make up karaoke lines and exercise their singing voices and powers of aural recall. "The Caretaker's Cat" builds a catalogue of adjectives, from "angry" to "zany" via "quirky" and "excellent". Those old stumbling blocks, "here", "there" and "where", feature in a nice number about Freddy Bear, who sometimes rhymes and sometimes doesn't.
For juniors, we get five more items. Onomatopoeia allows them to bring imagination and humour to bear on a number of disastrous occurrences. Cliches invites them to jettison hackneyed comparisons and offer new figurative uses. "The Synonym Blues" tells with raunchy dynamism why "my baby left me" - "She said I was so boring, tedious, tiresome, stale, monotonous, dull" - and her conditions for return involve singers in devising and performing a whole thesaurus of abuse and affection.
The quality of the recordings is good. Instrumental sounds are bright and melodic lines are clearly marked. The photocopiable worksheets aren't especially original, but their purpose is secondary to the pack's real and fulfilled aim - persuading children to develop their thinking about language while in the very act of using their voices in shared and memorable enjoyment.