Once a kid, always a kid
“Play the Zachary one, play the Zachary one,” my 4-year-old daughter Hannah shouts from the back seat.We’re driving back to Aspen from a long weekend in Denver and we’ve already heard the CD umpteen times. But to appease our increasingly rowdy kids – and to prolong the inevitable “When are we gonna be there?” questions – we slide the disc in again.”Hi there, Zachary. We’re really glad you could join us today. We’re going on a wonderful adventure, and you’re invited,” the jolly voice echoes through the car.And with this, Hannah and Zachary are indeed off on adventure.”It started with us making up silly songs and stories for our kids,” said Don Chaney, who along with Brian Keleher created “My Adventure Story,” a collection of short stories, music and poems for young children. “And after seeing how much they liked them, it dawned on us that maybe we could do this for other kids as well.”But unlike the volumes of generic CDs on the market, this collection is personalized. The disc’s label includes your child’s name – a real kick for Hannah, who is learning to read and delights in spelling her name over and over; and the CD tracks mention your child’s name more than 15 times – a gimmick that pulls in even 18-month-old Zachary.Also setting “My Adventure Story” apart from the average nursery rhyme compilation are its interactive and educational components. Chaney’s wife is a teacher who helped conceptualize the CD; Keleher’s wife was also instrumental in the CD’s creation.”She kept reminding us that we often underestimate children’s intelligence, even at a young age,” said Keleher, who has two sons, 2-year-old Patrick and 5-month-old Finn; Chaney’s son Ian is almost 3. “They really are little sponges.”Included on the all-original, 21-track CD – recorded primarily at the duo’s Carbondale studio with Keleher’s, Chaney’s and nearly a dozen other voices included – are lessons in counting in Spanish, German and French; two rounds of animal sounds to identify; segments on world instruments; and my kids’ favorite – Name That Sound.”Hello everyone, and welcome to Name That Sound …” begins the game-show host over canned audience applause. Seconds later, a dog barks. Contestant number one is asked to “name that sound.” A voice offers “bird.” The crowd lets out a sigh of disappointment. Contestant number two gives it a try: “Is it a cat?” she asks. Again, wrong answer.”It’s your turn, Zachary. Name that sound …” the announcer implores our back-seat listeners. “It’s a dog, Zachary. A dog. Zac, say it’s a dog,” big sister Hannah begs, as the game-show timer ding-dongs away.”Woof,” replies young Zachary with a proud, four-toothed grin.”You’re right, it’s a dog. Well done …” And with that, the CD carries Hannah and Zachary off on yet another adventure. Perhaps most refreshing to Barney-besieged parents, though, is the CD’s sheer entertainment value. Longtime local radio personalities who now have their own full-service ad agency, 24six Communications that specializes in radio marketing, Chaney and Keleher have a knack for engaging listeners. As their Web site (www.myadventurestory.com, where the CD is available for $21.95) states: “Neither Don nor Brian are willing to face adulthood like adults, so it’s not a surprise that they came up with My Adventure Story.””We love being silly,” said Keleher. “We love Jim Henson, Sesame Street … seriously, what’s better than that when you really think about it?”Truly, Mother Goose has never been so funny.”Welcome to ups and downs, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,” begins the British announcer following an Olympic-esque musical build-up. “The sky is blue and crisp and you couldn’t ask for a better day for candlestick jumping. Indeed, the jumpers have been warming up all morning and the newest sensation on the candlestick jumping circuit is Jack …” And thus begins the time-worn tale of Jack Be Nimble.”It’s funny stuff … it can be really hilarious,” agreed Chaney. “And we have a blast doing this.”Chaney’s and Keleher’s homespun tales, such as Crocodile Mittens (based on a true tale from Chaney’s childhood) and Koala Jack (inspired by Keleher’s Aussie wife), are equally entertaining. And while my husband and I would probably prefer to listen to “grown-up” music or NPR while road-tripping, I don’t see it happening. In fact, after close to four hours of “My Adventure Story” in the car in just one day, Hannah made sure we put “her” CD in the player at bedtime that night.”Now it’s my turn,” she said. “And I bet I can guess all the animal sounds.”I’m betting she’ll be counting to 10 in German, mimicking the Indian sitar and retelling the story of Earl the Elephant before she’s ready for her next “adventure story,” which just might be on the way.”We’ve got some other projects in the works,” said Keleher. “I’m not at liberty to say what they are, but keep an eye on the Web site …”I, for one, am curious about Chaney and Keleher’s next creation. And I know Hannah and Zachary feel the same.Jeanne McGovern’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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