Monday, November 02, 2009

Woke Up This Mornin' : One Shoe Blues by Sandra Boynton, Starring B.B. King


Yeah, we've all been there. Those up in the mornin', can't get my poor self together blues.

And who better to sing them for us than B.B. King, the quintessential bluesman himself.

If B.B. and Lucille can't tell it like it is, who can?

That's what Sandra Boynton, Li'l Queenie of the board books, must have figured when she turned to old-fashioned film to make her newest multimedia production, One Shoe Blues.

Drawing on the soulful hit song from her book and CD combo from 2007, Blue Moo: 17 Jukebox Hits From Way Back Never,(see my post here) Boynton fashioned a spin-off, a story board book and DVD, filming the illustrious bluesman himself performing the hit song, "One Shoe Blues" from the CD which accompanied the earlier book.

Film making requires more than just cutting the record--it requires sets, costumes, lighting, sound technicians, gaffers, and even the stereotypical corps of back-up singers, in the form of Momsock, "renowned actress and jazz legend," and the bluesy " Overeager Singing Sock Puppets."

The result is a sweet and swingin' fifteen-minute film in which all concerned help B.B. locate his missing green sneaker. Kids, of course, will spot it right away, but the fun of the search will keep them laughing through this stylish film in which the famous blues brother turns in a decidedly nuanced performance. B.B. admits that he had never in his long life in show biz performed with a sock puppet, but he carries it off with the good humor and grace he's always shown in the spotlight.

For her part, Boynton deadpans with her best faux film school seriosity,

"As the film director I feel that I have the responsibility to comment on the significance of the work.

My vision was... loss... and redemption... and sock puppets."

Uh huh. B.B. was no problem, "a fine actor," the director reports, but the sock puppets were "kinda high maintenance." (Watch the book/DVD trailer here.)

It's Boynton at her best, creating a product that is both childlike and sophisticated, and above all appealing to the preschool set. Where else can you share the universal experience of looking for your missing shoe, introduce blues to tots, and, um, sneak in the fun of Sesame-Street style characters to boot? There is even sheet music--words, notation, and guitar chords appended--for those in the mood to be singin' the blues themselves.

It's hot, it's blue, and it's just for you--One Shoe Blues, (Workman, 2009), kid-vid that parents can love, too.

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