The latest album from Grinspoon guitarist Pat Davern might not have the gritty rock sounds you expect, but it has won the heart of his two-year-old daughter, Francesca. With a star-studded line up of Aussie artists and a fabulous accompanying book this is a must-have for all who love a good story.
Becoming a parent can sometimes mean breaking from your favourite music as the repetitive, super happy world of children’s music descends. You wake up one day to realise you know every word to ‘Let it Go’ and you can recite the Wiggles’ albums by year of release. Alexander the Elephant in Zanzibar is about to change all that. Here are some amazing Australian artists like Megan Washington, Alex Lloyd, Pete Murray, Connie Mitchell from Sneaky Sound System, plus Alex and Fergus from Kingswood singing songs for children. Mind blown.
Alexander is a somewhat shy pink elephant covered in purple spots – fair to say he is a little bit different. He lives on the island of Zanzibar and loves to eat red ant sandwiches. Alongside his friends Miss Alicia Peabody, Crazy Uncle Gerald and Pedro the Parrot, he goes on adventures and discovers that being different is okay and you can always find courage when you have friends by your side.
The inspiration to create this children’s book and album came in part from being a parent, but also from Pat’s own father. “The idea was born from stories that my father used to tell his grandchildren, including my daughter,” Pat told Babyology.
“It was really born from a desire to do something for my father – he’s retired and he’s always been a successful guy, I felt like it would be good for him to give him a lease of life that he could be involved in, that we could do together. And he’s so proud of what I’ve done and he’s so happy, which makes me very happy.”
To bring the character of Alexander to life, Pat called on a few friends, including acclaimed illustrator Martin Chatterton. Pat says the two of them just clicked when talking of Alexander.
“He got it right away. In our first meeting when we talked about the illustrations and how we wanted the whole thing to come across, that evening he sent me through the cover which has stayed the way it is now with that initial Alexander character. He’s done an incredible job,” said Pat.
The imagery of Alexander the Elephant in Zanzibar uses photographic backgrounds, topped with a layer of muted colour scenery, and bold colours in the foreground that create a real sense of depth. The world that Alexander inhabits seems so real and exciting, and the accompanying album only enhances this.
The album is unlike anything I have heard in the world of Australian kids’ music. It is both a narration of the story (with voices done by the musicians) and a collection of brilliant songs by some of Australia’s best artists. You can get a taste in the video below.
“In America or England it’s quite common that well-known artists will do this kids’ stuff, but in Australia it doesn’t really happen. I think that’s why so many of the people that I wanted to got involved,” said Pat. And we are so glad they did! This is music ideal for rocking parents and a great education into quality music for our bubs.
As Pat told us, “You might be a Pete Murray fan or a Megan Washington fan and you can hear them doing something different in singing these songs.”
I just love the idea that when my young one grows she will already be familiar with the names and sounds of these musicians. Currently, my one-year-old is in love with the music of Alexander the Elephant and I have enjoyed listening to it over again because it is filled with the artists I love.
As Pat points out, “The book is really for early readers from four to seven years old. But with Francesca, my daughter who is two-and-a-half, she loves the album. She loves the songs, she loves the voices and the narration. They really are two pieces of the puzzle that go together.”
Alexander the Elephant in Zanzibar is nothing short of a smash hit combination. Homegrown talent collaborating to create something wonderful for our children and fun for us parents who still love to rock out. The album is available for download through iTunes, and you can purchase the book and album together from Alexander the Elephant for $39.95.