Review-Dirty Linen Magazine

Wee Folk
Stories and songs for the whole family

Ellis Paul
The Dragonfly Races
Black Wolf (2008)

It was only a matter of time before the reliably folky Mr. Paul turned his storytelling skills to the younger set. Daughters Ella and Sofia most likely served as primary motivators. There's nothing quite the equal of homegrown field testers for child-centered music. Paul covers a range of subject matter, including a bed tricked out as a car, a counterintuitive fairy tale, a car trip travelogue, a simple motivational tale, a tribute to swings, and an introduction to social justice and political protest. "Wabi-Sabi" honors the well-used items of daily life. Think junior version of Guy Clark's "Stuff That Works" to counteract consumerist influences to come. A couple of songs, notably "I Lost a Day to the Rain" and "9 Months to Fix the World" have an adult perspective that may not penetrate to younger sensibilities, but it's good to aim high as well as to appeal to mom and dad. It's difficult to pin down a targeted age group for the songs; the best approach may be to start playing it at age two or three and let the child grow into it.

The booklet of lyrics is full of Paul's accomplished artwork, which illustrates each song. The illustrations are incredibly detailed, whimsical, and evocative. Any children's book publisher would be thrilled to hire him on as an illustrator, but let's hope he keeps his day job.

•- Colleen Moore (Baltimore, MD)

updated: 8 years ago