Friday, February 10, 2012


One day not so long ago, I was in the library looking for something new to read.   There was a book, a perfect square - which I always find attractive - with an equally attractive bear on the cover.

The title of the book is: Me.

The author: Philip Waechter.

A quick flip revealed the right word to picture ratio for my wee one, and *plop* it went into the rapidly filling library bag.

A few days later, I fished it out of the pile and began reading.  It's hard to get a good idea of the book from the first few pages.  Is it all egotistical mantras?  Is this bear full-of-himself or what?  But the last few pages are so sweet, so lovely, so true that this fun little book is now on my all-time-favorites list.  I want to buy a copy for everyone I really, truly love in the world.

So I have a new label for this kind of book - birth to death.  Because I challenge anyone of any age to read about this fantastic bear and not fall in love.   Or at least remember who it is in the world that you do love - and perhaps fall in love with them again.

This one might be worth another try at video posting!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Recommended Reading, Inspired by Apple Brains.

Be sure to read my interview with Apple Brains here.

But perhaps you are feeling inspired to help your children (of all ages) learn more about the food they eat, food preparation, and eating healthy.  Here are some books to help!

First, for adults, I highly recommend the book Apple Brains mention in the interview: The Fruit Hunters by Adam Leith Gollner is a fun and informative read.  I need to mention again, THIS IS FOR ADULTS ONLY.  Fruits, as it turns out, are quite sexy.

For the littlest babies, try:
Fruit by Sara Anderson
and of course the incomparable the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

For toddlers, try:
Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett
and Rah, Rah, Radishes! by April Pulley Sayre

For preschoolers and early-school aged children, try:
How Did That Get In My Lunchbox? By Chris Butterworth
and Apples, Cherries, Red Raspberries by  Brian P. Cleary

As I said at the end of the interview, Apple Brains Video coming soon.  Also, a video of my wee Brussel Sprout rocking out to the music.

Interview: Apple Brains

Mrs. O:  Congratulations on your wonderful album and the great reviews it has received! Tell me, how long have you been performing?  And did you play an instrument as a child?

Apple Brains:  I've been making music my whole life.  I started with piano lessons at age five, then played oboe in the school band, and also started playing guitar at around ten or eleven.  Drums came next when I was fifteen or so.  I suppose I've never stuck to one instrument and really tried to master it, but instead am most interested in song writing, and try to develop the skills necessary to experiment with different instruments.  I've played in lots of rock and roll bands, and Apple Brains has been performing for about 3 years, with varying intensity.

Mrs. O: That’s so funny.  I played the oboe as a child too.  What a funny coincidence!  So, I have read that you were a "Nutrition Musician" for the LA school system.  How did that come to be?

Apple Brains: That was a serendipitous thing.  I had a roommate at the time who worked in nutrition, for a federal program called Nutrition Network (now known as Network for a Healthy California), and they were looking to diversify their approach to education with kids.  He told me they were looking for a musician. I had never done children's music at the time, but a lot of my solo music was very playful, and along with my personality it really just made sense.  So I altered some songs I had to make them about nutrition, went in for an audition, and got the job. Once in the door the pressure was on to write songs fast, so that's how I started developing what became Apple Brains. 

Mrs. O:  My daughter's favorite song is "Apple x3" - it must really get the crowd going at concerts!  Not to focus on the negative, because the deliciousness of an apple cannot be questioned, but I wonder, as you make reference in the song:  Have you ever gotten an apple with worms?

Apple Brains: I have gotten an apple with a worm!  Well, at least with what was a worm....  I've bitten into apples that have rotting worm holes that seem too gross to just be apple...  yuck!

Mrs. O:  My two favorites are "Water - the loveliest beverage" and "Frutero."  How did you come to that wonderful association with water?  After a nice cold glass of it, or gazing out upon the lakes of Vermont?  And for Frutero, you have incorporated an awesome, Latin influence, what other musical influences feature strongly on this album?

Apple Brains: Water really is the loveliest beverage!  I'm one of those people that loves ice cold water.  I'm always shocked to meet people who only like their water room temperature!  Also I think a part of my very real craving for fruit is its high water content.   You can just feel how needed that hydration is, and water just does it the best.  No need for any fancy packaged Water 2.0 beverages.  Water 1.0 is the loveliest of all!
As for musical influences, I'd have to say Sesame Street above everything else.  I love the arrangements of those songs, how playful they are in sound and content. The characters and voices are awesome.  Plus the musical style is more my speed.  It's 'acoustic' essentially.. I guess what i mean by that is not electronic as in drum machines etc., which is where so much kids music is nowadays.  I love electronic music, but it's not where my strength lies in what I'm gonna offer. Also they also don't dumb things down for kids.  I think that can be fine, and can be great for real specific educational lessons, but I also love a children's song that's more complex.  Kids can go there, we all know that.  I'm sure that's a conversation that comes up a lot with children's literature too.

Mrs. O:  Oh, I completely agree!  I love that Sesame Street (and you) do not dumb things down for children.  And the children’s literature that I enjoy the most also encourages children of all ages to learn new things by challenging them.   On that topic, this blog is primarily about books, so I was intrigued to read that The Fruit Hunters by Adam Leith Gollner was an influence.  What song did that book inspire?  What other things inspire you to write these songs?

Apple Brains: The Fruit Hunters inspired 'Ba-na-nas', which is a song about the astounding diversity of fruit all around the world, using bananas as an example.  Bananas are a staple fruit here in the US, but they don't grow here. The song asks the question, "what other fruits may there be out there that we don't know about because they aren't part of the global commercial fruit industry?"  It's a celebration of that diversity and a call for exploration.  Adam Leith Gollner's book uses fruit to celebrate those concepts as well.  It's a REALLY fun read, and will make you itch to go out and try all the fruits you can find!  He also expresses the magic of fruit; The wonderful sensuousness of its shapes, colors, flavors; all the ways fruit intrigues and captivates the imagination the world over.  I want to give kids this sense of wonder too.  It's one way of opening the artistic eye.  "Have you ever REALLY looked at a pomegranate? Have you ever eaten it slowly and REALLY experienced it's flavor?" 

Mrs. O: Okay, I just got that book at the library, now I cannot wait to “peel” into it!  (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)  We just got back from Kenya, and I was shocked to realize I didn’t know what a banana tree looks like!  Also, the bananas there are tiny, like one or two bites – one or two sweet delectable bites!  Now I will be looking out on our next trip for more indigenous fruits and I’ll report back!  Oh and speaking of pomegranates, there is nothing that makes me think of California more than a heavily-laden pomegranate tree!   Quick cautionary tale: Never try to feed a horse pomegranate seeds!

Mrs. O:  When you are in LA, what fruits and vegetables do you miss about Vermont?

Apple Brains: I miss the fresh apples and blueberries that you find at the local farm stand or in your own backyard or on a bush behind CVS!

Mrs. O:  I thought you might miss the fresh, seasonal fruits of the northeast – they are some of the best non-commercialized examples of fruit in our country.   I love visiting farmer’s markets while on vacation to remember what produce tasted like during my childhood.  Tell me, what is next for Apple Brains?  When does the Futero video come out and where can we see it?  And is there another album in the works?

Apple Brains: Apple Brains is getting busy playing a new slew of shows in 2012 in and around LA.  We will be recording a new album this summer, which will be very exciting.  I'm really looking forward to diving deep into the creation of that and seeing what comes out.  Anything could happen!  As for the Frutero video, it will be done within the month of February for sure.  We are actually running a Kickstarter campaign to help with funding, so please if you can check that out to get a taste of the video and help us financially to bring it to light.  I'm working on developing another video full of elementary school kids, so fingers crossed that that will work out as well.  The Frutero video will be on my website, facebook, youtube, vimeo, pretty much everywhere we can put it!  You can stay informed by liking Apple Brains on facebook ( as well as checking in at my website. Thanks so much and have a delicious day!

Mrs. O:                 You can find Apple Brains current album at:

Or check out their website at:

Or visit them on Facebook at:

I'll post a link to the new video when it's available.  And maybe one of my own in the meantime!