“Mr. Tambourine Man” & Other Bob Dylan Classics, Sung Beautifully by Kids

New Zealander David Antony Clark grew up with the music of Bob Dylan, and, like many his age, felt sad that the youngun’s had no idea who that was. Instead of moaning, he decided to produce Kids Sing Bob Dylan, an 11-track CD of covers sung by the Starbugs, Clark’s children’s group.

Before you flinch, check the YouTube clip above. These kids can actually sing, right? The harmonies are there...I mean possibly cleaned up a bit with technology, I can’t say for sure.

Here’s “Forever Young,” from Dylan’s 1974 Planet Waves. An appropriate song for this quintet: Jessie Hillel, Rebecca Jenkins, Sarah Whitaker, Ben Anderson, and Roisin Anderson, all from Wellington, NZ, and raging in age from 7 to 15.




According to a Stuff.nz article on the release, Jessie Hillel said about the recording: "Hearing and listening to him was really fun. But you can do whatever you want to the songs, but at the same time I really wanted to have his standard because he did such a good job. I feel proud of myself, it's just so good."

Ben Anderson, age 12, was the only one with previous knowledge of Dylan: “"I'd heard about him a few times before, I was really excited. He's a really good singer, just the emotion that he puts into his songs, I was really excited to sing them. I was really nervous that I wouldn't live up to it, and do it right, but it got easier as the song went on."

Now, you might have noticed two things from a quick listen. One of the younger kids, Jessie Hillel, might be small, but she packs a voice from someone twice her age. (She handles the lower range in the harmonies.) The other thing: these videos are from 2011.

Where is Jessie now? Funny you ask:

In 2012 she made her way onto the finals of New Zealand’s Got Talent, and in 2016 she sang Puccini in Melbourne. She’s currently studying music in Melbourne and is in a jazz-fusion band called Jakal.

Sarah Whitaker also has her own music channel on YouTube.

Funny about kids--they grow up right in front of your eyes.

via Boing Boing

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

The Magic of Chess: Kids Share Their Uninhibited, Philosophical Insights about the Benefits of Chess

From the US Chess Federation and director Jenny Schweitzer comes the short documentary, The Magic of Chess. "Filmed at the 2019 Elementary Chess Championships at the Nashville Opryland resort, a group of children share their uninhibited, philosophical insights about the benefits of chess." Jenny Schweitzer added: “For me, as a mother of a child who simply loves the game, it was my intention to focus not on the competitive aspects of the chess world, but rather what a deep commitment to chess can potentially offer someone, young or old.” If this whets your appetite, explore some of our chess resources below.

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Itzhak Perlman Appears on Sesame Street and Poignantly Shows Kids How to Play the Violin and Push Through Life’s Limits (1981)

I always champion anything that will improve the lives of people with disabilities and put it on the front burner. - Itzhak Perlman

At its best, the Internet expands our horizons, introducing us to new interests and perspectives, forging connections and creating empathy.

The educational children's series Sesame Street was doing all that decades earlier.

Witness this brief clip from 1981, starring violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman and a six-year-old student from the Manhattan School of Music.

For many child—and perhaps adult—viewers, this excerpt presented their first significant encounter with classical musical and/or disability.




The little girl scampers up the steps to the stage as Perlman, who relies on crutches and a motorized scooter to get around, follows behind, heaving a sigh of relief as he lowers himself into his seat.

Already the point has been made that what is easy to the point of unconsciousness for some presents a challenge for others.

Then each takes a turn on their violin.

Perlman’s skills are, of course, unparalleled, and the young girl’s seem pretty exceptional, too, particularly to those of us who never managed to get the hang of an instrument. (She began lessons at 3, and told the Suzuki Association of the Americas that her Sesame Street appearance with Perlman was the “highlight of [her] professional career.”)

In the nearly 40 years since this episode first aired, public awareness of disability and accessibility has become more nuanced, a development Perlman discussed in a 2014 interview with the Wall Street Journal, below.

Having resented the way early features about him invariably showcased his disability, he found that he missed the opportunity to advocate for others when mentions dropped off.

Transparency coupled with celebrity provides him with a mighty platform. Here he is speaking in the East Room of the White House in 2015, on the day that President Obama honored him with the Medal of Freedom:

And his collaborations with Sesame Street have continued throughout the decadesincluding performances of "You Can Clean Almost Anything" (to the tune of Bach’s Partita for Solo Violin), "Put Down the Duckie," Pagliacci's Vesti la giubba (backing up Placido Flamingo), and Beethoven's Minuet in G, below.

Read more of Perlman’s thoughts on disability, and enroll in his Master Class here.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, January 6 when her monthly book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domaincelebrates Cape-Coddities by Roger Livingston Scaife (1920). Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Download Beautiful Free Posters Celebrating the Achievements of Living Female STEM Leaders

Remember the posters that decorated your childhood or teenaged bedroom?

Of course you do.

Whether aspirational or inspirational, these images are amazingly potent.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit what hung over my bed, especially in light of a certain CGI adaptation…

No such worries with a set of eight free downloadable posters honoring eight female trailblazers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

These should prove evergreen.


Commissioned by Nevertheless, a podcast that celebrates women whose advancements in STEM fields have shaped—and continue to shape—education and learning, each poster is accompanied with a brief biographical sketch of the subject.

Nevertheless has taken care that the featured achievers are drawn from a wide cultural and racial pool.

No shame if you’re unfamiliar with some of these extraordinary women. Their names may not possess the same degree of household recognition as Marie Curie, but they will once they’re hanging over your daughter’s (or son’s) bed.

It’s worth noting that with the exception of the undersung mother of DNA Helix Rosalind Franklin, these are living role models. They are:

Astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison

Robotics pioneer Dr. Cynthia Breazeal

Mathematician Gladys West

Tech innovator Juliana Rotich

Pharmaceutical chemist Tu Youyou

Biopharmacist and women rights advocate Maria da Penha

Biotechnologist Dr. Hayat Sindi

Kudos, too, to Nevertheless for including biographies of the eight female illustrators charged with bringing the STEM luminaries to aesthetically cohesive graphic life: Lidia Tomashevskaya,Thandiwe TshabalalaCamila RosaXu HuiKarina PerezJoana NevesGeneva B, and Juliette Brocal

Listen to Nevertheless’ episode on STEM Role Models here.

Download Nevertheless’ free posters in English here. You can also download zipped folders containing all eight posters translated into Brazilian PortugueseFrenchFrench CanadianGermanItalianSpanish, and Simplified Chinese.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, January 6 when her monthly book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domaincelebrates Cape-Coddities (1920) by Roger Livingston Scaife. Follow her @AyunHalliday

Interactive Periodic Table of Elements Shows How the Elements Get Used in Making Everyday Things

“The discovery of the periodic system for classifying the elements represents the culmination of a number of scientific developments, rather than a sudden brainstorm on the part of one individual,” writes Eric Scerri at Scientific American. And yet, while several scientists over the course of the nineteenth century invented systems for classifying the elements, “ask most chemists who discovered the periodic table and you will almost certainly get the answer Dmitri Mendeleev,” notes the Royal Society of Chemistry.  That’s for good reason, since the basis of the table we know today came from the design Mendeleev created in 1869.

This past March saw the 150th anniversary of his achievement, which has hardly remained a historical artifact. Every generation has its table. Mendeleev’s rudimentary beginnings have taken on new shape and have been supplemented with annotations and illustrations in eye-catching color in textbooks and on classroom walls around the world. It’s only fitting, then, that the 21st century has its digital versions of the table, like the interactive design by Boeing software engineer Keith Enevoldsen.




The Interactive Periodic Table of the Elements, in Pictures and Words, adapts itself to different learning styles while providing students of chemistry, of all ages and levels, instant facts about each of the elements it illustrates. Click on Palladium, for example, and you’ll learn about its role in pollution control. The non-corroding hard metal absorbs hydrogen and is used in labware, electric contacts, and dentistry. Rhenium, we learn, is a dense metal used in rocket engines, heater coils, and electric contacts, among other things.

Other “seemingly obscure” elements we may never have heard of, like Gallium and Tantalum, influence our daily lives “quite a bit, it turns out,” as Lacy Cooke writes at Inhabit, serving as components in LEDs and mobile phones. We gather such facts at a glance, as well as the other endlessly useful functions of the table. Enevoldsen further adapts his designs for home or classroom use with printable PDFs, including a version with only words and a simplified table with only pictures. Beginning students may be thrilled to find print-your-own elements cards, as well as other periodic-table-related visual aids like Atomic Orbitals, a color-coded chart that “shows what atoms look like.”

The groupings on the periodic chart so familiar to us today came about when Mendeleev “realized that, by putting [the elements] in order of increasing atomic weight, certain types of element regularly occurred,” the Royal Society points out. But his “real genius… was to leave gaps for undiscovered elements. He even predicted the properties of five of these elements and their compounds.” Enevoldsen’s interactive table makes for an easy format to update. When new elements are named, he adds them to his charts immediately.

Periodic tables like Enevoldsen’s may only barely resemble Mendeleev’s spare original, but the Russian chemist’s classification system still provides the organizing principles by which we understand the fundamental elements that make up the material world. View and download PDF copies of all of these highly informative, and up-to-date periodic tables here. Or purchase posters/prints here.

via Inhabit

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Novel Adaptation

The human imagination can be an extraordinary coping device in times of trouble, a tiny window providing mental escape from whatever cell fate has consigned us to.

Diarist and aspiring professional writer Anne Frank, who died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the age of 15, chafed at her now-universally-known confinement in the Secret Annex. She chafed at her mother’s authority and the seemingly effortless saintliness of her older sister. Documenting her daily physical and emotional reality offered temporary respite from it.




The liberating power of the creative mind is one of the aspects writer Ari Folman and illustrator David Polonsky sought to tease out when adapting Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl as a graphic novel.

The graphic novel format decreed that entire passages would be cut or condensed. Polonsky can use a single panel to show logistics it took Anne paragraphs to describe. The interpersonal conflicts she dwelt on are now conveyed by facial expressions and body language.

As with Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón’s 2010 Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biographythe diary’s small stage is expanded to give readers, particularly those unacquainted with the original text, a historical context for understanding the wider social implications of Anne’s tragedy.

But this graphic retelling is unique in that it traffics in magic realist visuals that should play well with 21st-century youth, who cut their teeth on CGI, fast-paced edits, and streaming teen-focused entertainments wherein characters are apt to break the fourth wall or break into song.

These are the readers to whom the project is most intentionally pitched. As Folman told Teen Vogue’s Emma Sarran Webster:

I truly believe that in a few years, when the very last survivors will have died, the angle that will be taken from the story will be that with every year, we are 10 years further away from the original. [...] There is a severe threat that the things we have to learn from it will not be taught and learned if we don’t find a new language for them. So any new language in my opinion is blessed, as long as it stays within the framework and reaches young audiences by means of their tools, which are now very visual.

Ergo, Kitty, Anne’s nickname for her diary, has been personified, emerging from the little plaid book’s pages like Peter Pan’s shadow, ear attentively cocked toward the secrets Anne whispers into it.

The melodramatic Mrs. van Daan’s prized fur coat has an anthropomorphized rabbit head collar, capable of joining in the dialogue.

Polonsky pays homage to artists Edvard Munch, whose “degenerative” work Hitler had removed from German museums, and Gustav Klimt, who painted many works that were confiscated from their Jewish owners by Nazi decree.

Young readers' modern sensibilities also guided Folman’s approach to the text. The spirit of the original is preserved, but certain phrasings have been given a 21st century update.

The snarky Secret Annex menus and diet tips he allows his heroine harken to the direct address of various meta teen comedies, as well as the blistering parody of the Sarajevo Survival Guide, a purported travel guide written during the Siege.

Noble goal of engaging the next generation aside, there are no doubt some purists who will view these innovations as imposition. Rest assured that Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation is sanctioned by Anne Frank Fonds, the charitable foundation established by Anne’s father, Otto.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, November 4 when her monthly book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain celebrates Louise Jordan Miln’s “Wooings and Weddings in Many Climes (1900). Follow her @AyunHalliday.

The Best of the Edward Gorey Envelope Art Contest

What a delight it must have been to have been one of Edward Gorey’s correspondents, or even a postal worker charged with handling his outgoing mail.

The late author and illustrator had a penchant for embellishing envelopes with the hairy beasts, poker-faced children, and cats who are the mainstays of his darkly humorous aesthetic.

(A number of these envelopes and some 60 postcards and sketches are included in Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey and Peter F. Neumeyerwhich documents the correspondence-based friendship between Gorey and the author with whom he collaborated on three children’s books, including the delightfully macabre Donald Has a Difficulty.)




The Edward Gorey House, a beloved Cape Cod residence turned museum, has been keeping the tradition alive with its annual Halloween Envelope Art Contest.

Competitors of all ages vie for the opportunity to have their winning (and runners up and “very-close-to-being-runners-up”) Gorey-inspired entries displayed in the Gorey House and its digital extensions.

2019’s theme is the highly evocative “Uncomfortable Creatures” … and depending on the speed with which you can execute a brilliant idea and deliver it to the post office, you may still have a shot—entries must be postmarked by Monday, October 21, with winners to be announced on Halloween.

In addition to Stef Kiihn Aschenbrenner’s winning envelope from the 2018 contest’s over-18 category (top), some of our favorites from past years are reproduced here. Our inky-black hearts are especially warmed to see the spirit of the master kindling the imaginations of the youngest entrants—special shout out to Daniel Miley, aged 4.

View five years’ worth of notable Halloween Envelope Contest entries on the Edward Gorey House website (20182017201620152014) or download the official entry form and race to the post office with your bid for 2019 glory.

Entries must be postmarked by Monday, October 21 and addressed to Edward Gorey House, 8 Strawberry Lane, Yarmouth Port, MA 02675 USA.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, November 4 when her monthly book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain celebrates Louise Jordan Miln’s “Wooings and Weddings in Many Climes (1900). Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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