In brief

3rd October 1997 at 01:00
ALICE: THE MUSICAL. By Mark and Helen Johnson. Out Of The Ark Music, The School House, 15 Esher Green, Esher, Surrey KT10 8AA TelFax 0181 549 4151. Book cassette Pounds 22.95, script Pounds 4.50

Written for eight to 14-year-olds, this version of the Wonderland story has 18 songs for a wide range of performers, and plenty of opportunities for choreography. There is also room for pupils to compose their own music for shrinking and growing, and to develop pig-and-pepper percussion ostinati. More upbeat fun comes with a syncopated caucus race, a comic croquet tap-dance (with interpolated threats to behead the audience), a Latin lobster-dance, and a caterpillar whose groovy swing will probably steal the show.

THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. A musical in two acts by Irita Kutchmy. Free study pack from Joseph Weinberger, 12-14 Mortimer Street, London W1N 7RD Tel 0171 580 2827.

This musical has been performed with considerable enjoyment for about 10 years. The publishers have now produced a free study pack which contains a brochure, a script and a CD recording. The musical idiom derives essentially from jazz. It might seem surprising to hear a bluesy White Witch tempting Edmund with Turkish Delight or a funky Asian warning against the sway of evil things, but it makes an effective change from more pious or even unctuous versions of the story.

THE MUSIC OF DICKENS AND HIS TIME, PERFORMED BY THE SEVEN DIALS BAND. Pounds 12.99 (CD) Pounds 7.99 (cassette) from Beautiful Jo Records, 86 Marlborough Road, Oxford OX1 4LS

This is a splendid and well-researched compilation of dances and songs. By turns sentimental, gruesome, patriotic and raucously comical, it's like eavesdropping on an evening's parlour entertainment with Mr Pickwick and friends, accompanied by a demure lady with a harp. The band with fiddle, concertina, serpent and other winds play with gusto and skill. It will be most useful to pupils studying the Victorians or wishing to explore attainment target 2 of national curriculum music.

Tom Deveson

* My Best Book, a guide to sharing the pleasures of reading is a collection of prize-winning reviews by seven to 11-year-olds in the London boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth. Published to mark the start of Children's Book Week, it is the result of a three-way partnership between the National Literacy Association, the Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership and Volunteer Reading Help, the organisation that trains people from the local community to help children with their reading.

Full of enthusiasm and engaging insights, My Best Book also includes advice on making shared reading sessions enjoyable and purposeful. Send an A5 stamped addressed envelope to VRH (London), 85 Harford Street, London E1 4PY.

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