Recently, a publicist asked DadTalk to review a children’s CD. Although my wife primarily reviews children’s books on Bookbuds, I figured what the heck and received Casey at the Bat a few weeks later.
Because I do not regularly follow sports, I didn’t get all that excited when I stuck it into Seth’s little jam box. While most of my cousins wanted to watch Cubs games, as a kid I usually preferred to read a good science fiction novel.
As the CD ran through the well-known story of Casey, I was impressed by the background music performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, but still didn’t warm up to it. Then Seth said, “play it again, daddy, play it again!”
And again. And again. And again. It slowly dawned on me that Seth, who isn’t even 3 yet – the series is meant for kids over 5 – was mesmerized by Yadu’s narrative even more than the music. Sure, Seth has never seen a baseball game in his life, but the words seemed to paint a visual picture in his mind that he was playing over and over. He seemed particularly fascinated by the fact that Casey strikes out.
The entrancing aspect of this CD is no accident as it is a direct attempt to revive the traditions of musical storytelling ala Peter and the Wolf. These new versions evolved from the Stories in Music program that began at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in 1976. To learn more about the series, Fatherville has an interview with Stephen Simon, who was the music director of the Washington Chamber Symphony for 25 years.
While there are other tracks on the CD, Seth seems most interested in the Casey at the Bat poem, which was first written by Harvard graduate Ernest Lawrence Thayer and published in the San Francisco Examiner in 1888, which you can read here. But I’m sure older kids will find the other musical tracks, as well as Bonnie’s explanation of the poem, equally compelling.