My memories of childhood are exceptionally vivid: I probably can’t tell you if I ate breakfast or not, but if you want to know who I sat next to in third grade, or every phone number of anybody I was friends with before I went to college, I got you. I only mention this because Sharon, Lois, & Bram feature heavily in my memories from about age 5 till about 10, and they made such an impact that some things, like the beloved-in-our-house “Skimmarink” song, never really went anywhere.
The Elephant Show apparently began airing in 1984, and – although I was five – it wasn’t even really my tv show, but my then 1-yr-old sister’s. (My shows before age five were the ‘Is this a fever dream or do other people remember them too’ Today’s Special & Pinwheel, and the more easily remembered by others Romper Room & Reading Rainbow.) My then youngest sister had some speech issues that would qualify her for services now, but back in the days of olde, when we were children, parents were pretty much on their own with kids until they were old enough to start school. Luckily, we were also in a huge boom time for educational television, and our mom – after the success of Sesame Street in helping my brother and I remember such essential things as how many ladybugs were at the ladybug picnic – took full advantage of all these shows. My lsister loved music, and The Elephant Show had – by far – the most amount of songs & singing. Before long, songs like “Who Stole The Cookies From the Cookie Jar” were just an everyday part of our family lexicon.
And the song that stuck around the most, that we’ve all sung to the kiddos that came along since then – including said younger sister’s two small children – is “Skimmarink,” the closing song for every episode of the show. Between the easily memorizable & charming lyrics, the accompanying hand gestures, and the fact that once you teach a kid something they like, they will then make you repeat it 10,000 times, “Skimmarink: is just as much a part of the songs of childhood in our family as the alphabet or “Happy Birthday”. So when I saw NetGalley was offering up digital copies of a new book based on the song, I snapped up a copy right quick.
And I’ve since bought two hardcover copies as well – one for our house & one for my sister’s – so her kids and I can read it to/with each other over our weekly FaceTimes. The book is written by “Sharon, Lois, & Bram w/Randi Hampson”, and – according to the author’s notes & acknowledgements – the original song was written by the late Lois Lilienstein, who ‘brought it from her family to ours,’ and the three musicians have been singing it together since their very first concert in 1978. Sharon Hampson (who seems to run the band’s TikTok w/her daughter, the aforementioned co-author, Randi Hampson, w/whom she continues to do live shows) & Bram Morrison then worked with illustrator Qin Leng to bring this playful & joyous version of the song to a whole new generation of kids.
The illustrations are colorful & fun, ranging from crowded & hectic to sweet & sincere, and crammed full of little hidden jokes & moments of absurdity. They also reflect a wide & diverse range of humans & animals – a lady in a wheelchair is singing the song right next to a lion on one page; an alligator scrambles past a smiling girl waving a pride flag on the next. And all of it just emits the same nonsensical happiness vibe of the original show. (All while adding a verse we either stopped singing at some point or was added specifically to the book, I’m not sure which.) It’s – once again – a family favorite, just in a whole new medium.
Here’s my favorite picture, by the way. 5 Stars
My original copy was provided by NetGalley for an honest review.