17th November 2000 at 00:00
BALLOONING AROUND THE WORLD. By Alison Hedger. Golden Apple pound;9.95. Tel: 01284 725725.

AROUND THE WORLD IN A THOUSAND YEARS. By Sara Ridgley and Gavin Mole IMP pound;14.99 Tel: 0800 376 9101. MOVING ON. By Mark and Helen Johnson. Out of the Ark Music pound;22.95 (incl CD) Tel: 01932 232250

Pressures on the timetable often lead publishers and teachers to yoke music to other curriculum areas; sometimes the good intention can outstrip the achievement.

This seems to be the case with Alison Hedger's gastronomic journey, a seven-song circumnavigation that takes in Scots porridge, Russian ragout, Spanish onions and Caribbean calaloo, among other delicacies. The recipes seem reasonably tasty, and the songs are OK for key stage 1 performers, but national stereotypes surface in both the descriptions of countries and the listening suggestions. "Sunflowers and balalaikas" or "pyramids and camels" seem too distant from contemporary reality, while Ketelby's In a Persian Market is a bizarre choice for illustrating the musical traditions of the Arab world.

A similar superficiality blemishes the otherwise attractive millennial jaunt of Sara Ridgley and Gavin Mole. This expertly produced pakage for older children does not match the universal aspiration of its title. There are references to Aztecs and Americans in the lists of dates that stud the ragtime interludes; but we are mainly in 1066 and All That territory. The Black Death features as a piece of heavy-metal gothic, Guy Fawkes and the Sparklers rock their way through the gunpowder plot, chirpy cockney evacuees make an oom-pah out of the Second World War . The songs are catchy and will amuse performers and listeners, but true history takes an undignified second place to razzmatazz.

Moving On bases its 12 songs on a disappearing curricular principle, the investigation of topics. They give a historical twist to a variety of themes familiar from the primary classroom - transport (from the invention of the wheel to space travel), toys (from old dolls to a Megamindmaster Blaster), communications and fashion. Each song is set in a context of chat between characters visited by a brother and sister and creatures from their computer. Though the dialogue is intermittently informative, the final thrust of the piece is an upbeat message of love - an appropriate end for a cycle to mark the millennium.


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