Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Book Case

In the immortal words of Kip, Napoleon Dynamite's brother, "You know I love technology". Without it I could not be writing to you right now. But I think sometimes we get so excited about technology and its convenience that we forget how special it was sometimes just to wait for something.

For example: waiting for that one night in December when Charlie Brown's Christmas Special would be on TV, and we'd all gather around the set to see it that ONE TIME. If you missed it, you'd have to wait a whole year! That's what made it so special! Ditto for that yearly showing of "The Wizard of Oz."
Or waiting the half hour for my Swanson TV dinner to be ready to eat. Yum. The anticipation was half of what made it so delicious when it finally came out. You just can't microwave fried chicken and mashed potatoes properly.

But there are other technological "advances" that I'm cautious about. The privacy issue, for one. When I was a teen, there were many times I just wanted to be alone. Today's kids are NEVER alone...someone always has access to them through their cell phone or computer. They never have the excuse that "My father was waiting for a call so I couldn't use the phone, that's why I didn't call you last night." It seems sometimes they don't even know what privacy IS. But lately I have noticed my daughter turning off her phone more often...maybe the need for solace has finally appeared.

There's one technological development that we have so far resisted in the Pancoast family: The Kindle or other e-book reader. I know, I can carry around a million books in your purse and take it to the pool or beach or blah blah blah. Well, guess what? I carry around a paperback in my purse, and when I finish it, I replace it with another. I keep a book or two of short stories in the car at all times, too. If I had a million books in my e-reader I may not ever finish any of them!

Also, I'm really attached to my book cases. I still remember the year my brother and I both got book cases for our rooms for Christmas. It was one of my favorite gifts ever. I used to love rearranging my books in that bookcase.
The first pieces of real furniture my husband and I purchased after getting married were a big bookcase and a smaller one from This End Up. You could take away my sofa, coffee table, even my bed...but I'm never giving up those book cases. I like looking at them and seeing the books I've read, some I've had since childhood.....the ones that are too dear to me to give to the annual library book sale. There are a milion happy memories of the places I've been and the stories I've been part of while reading those addition to the memories of where I was in my life when I read them.
When I broke my ankle and was housebound a couple of years ago I went kind of crazy rearranging those books over and over. And I re-read more than a few of them. If I'd gotten all of those books on an e-reader, all of that fun would be gone.

I've already lost the joy of reading the liner notes and staring at the artwork on album covers. It doesn't help that I can barely read the small print on a CD insert...since beginning to download music we don't even get that anymore. (in fact, I've been wondering why I'm spending so much time designing my new CD cover when most people who buy it will probably get it by downloading!)

I can't bear the thought of losing my books, too.

So keep your e-reader; I'll keep my Mystery Guild membership, thank you very much!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


My brand new CD, WEIRD THINGS ARE EVERYWHERE, will be going on sale to the general public on my website on November 9 and shortly thereafter on and on

Pre-order it now and it will ship to you in late October, before anyone else has it!
is a road trip with Judy that takes you across the United States, with stops along the way to visit interesting sites related to children's literature. It's jam-packed with geographical and historical facts, and lots and lots of WEIRD THINGS, along with brand new songs!
Reading Our Way Across the U.S.A.
Bum de Bo
Superman Can
Take Me to Your Reader
Once Upon a Time
The Dog Did It
I Can't Go Surfin'
A Little Bit of Elvis
Weird Things are Everywhere
Where I Live

Special Note to Teachers and Home Schooling Parents: This CD is filled with fun songs and information that will enhance your US Geography, Literacy, History and Music programs. Your students will ask to hear it over and over again....and they'll be learning while having fun!

Pre-order today by sending check or money order in the amount of $15 (includes shipping and handling) to:
Judy Pancoast
43 Pinehill Avenue
Manchester, NH 03102
Pre-order today and enjoy WEIRD THINGS ARE EVERYWHERE before anyone else can buy it!

For those of you who prefer to buy online, a PayPal link will be available on my website soon. Watch here for news on that!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hip to be Square

I just reviewed my posts from the last couple of years and I can't find a post where I wrote about this particular topic, although it's been on my mind for quite some time.

I have noticed a trend in children's music...and in other aspects of parenting. It's this media hype that parents must be "hip" and raise their children with all things "hip."....hip music, hip books, hip clothing...blah, blah, blah. There are tons of articles and blogs on "hip parenting."

What exactly does "hip" mean in 2009?

I posed this question to a bunch of other children's musicians in a networking group in which I participate, and there were as many different answers as there were people. In general it seems to be that "hip" parents feel that they are on the cutting edge of pop culture, and wouldn't be caught dead providing their children with anything that might be considered "traditional" or "un-cool." Here's a quote from an editorial in the Toronto Globe that better explains what I mean:

Alternaparenting, it seems, is all about putting your kid in the right T-shirt. And not cutting you kid's hair (because Kate Hudson and Chris Robinson didn't). And furnishing the baby's room with a rocking Eames chair (even though it's uncomfortable)

Anyhow, I began to wonder about this trend when my music was rejected by a radio program for kids. This particular programmer was looking for music that was "hipper" than my stuff. Then it happened again with a reviewer, someone who writes a prominent online column about children's music. He said he preferred music with a more "raw" sound. HUH?

This leaves me at odds. You see, no one has EVER accused me of being "hip," not even in the 70's, when I was a teen. Back then, of course, it was not "cool" to call someone "hip," because "hip" was an outdated term from the 60's, but I guess it's "hip" again in the 2000's.

Nope, I was decidedly un-cool. I liked The Carpenters, John Denver and Barry Manilow. I wore their t-shirts to school. I listened to bubblegum pop and watch "Dark Shadows" regularly. I never drank or did any kind of drugs, and I was in the chorus AND band in my high school. I was fat, had acne and fine, limp hair. I didn't get invited to the right parties and when I went to college in 1977 I was the one who got kicked out of the dorm room so my room-mates could have boys over.

I never underwent some big transformation, either. If you check this blog for last summer's posts, you will see that I was absolutely giddy about meeting David Cassidy. That's NOT "hip." In fact, it's so unhip that I found out that particular post was flagged on some hipster website and over 700 people came to my blog to check it out and laugh at me. I'm not exaggerating either. Just like back in high school!

But getting back to the issue of music.....since I am not "hip" and never have been, I don't know how to write "hip" music. I try to write music that sees things from a child's perspective. Amazingly, this comes pretty easily to me because (as my daughter often says) my emotional development seems to have stalled at age eight! However, I don't know how to write for "hip" kids. I write for kids who like to catch bugs in jars, stomp in puddles, and wouldn't know Juicy Couture Kids clothing from something on a Target sales rack. I think this is pretty much all kids, until their parents sway them in some other direction.

Unfortunately, and I'm going out on a dangerous limb saying this...I suspect that these very same "hip" little kids are going to turn into really obnoxious teens. And I don't want to be around when they do.

So, I guess I'm never going to be very successful on a large scale in the children's music biz since I'm so un-hip. My music is decidedly influenced by The Partridge Family and The Monkees and when I perform I don't wear striped tights and crazy hats. Believe me, no one would want to see that!

I hope that parents, whether they are hip or un-hip, will let their kids hear my music and decide for themselves whether or not they like it. On the other hand, with luck, maybe someday I'll be so "un-hip" that I'll be "hip!" Stranger things have happened......

Thursday, August 20, 2009

School Starts in two Weeks!!

I always dread the start of school. I have always enjoyed having my girls around and I miss them terribly when they go back to school. Because I'm self-employed and don't usually do a lot of concerts in September, I'm home a lot working on the business side of things. Sometimes it gets kind of lonely.

Plus, my summers are always jam packed with traveling, concerts, meeting new friends and lots of excitement. When it all comes to a crashing halt in September I can't help but feel down.

The first day that Louisa, my younger girl, began first grade, I taught our dog how to shake hands. Now Louisa is about to begin tenth grade, and my little doggie Buffy is still my main companion during the week.

Anyhow, I guess I'm just writing because I'm feeling my usual end-of-summer melancholy, and I wonder if anyone else feels this way. It's true what the old folks say, the years go by faster and faster with each passing one.........

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dying to tell you

..something so exciting that it is very hard for me to keep a lid on it. But I must. But be looking for a big announcement for me coming soon!
Beam me up, Scotty!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I just finished a show at a daycare, and there was a wonderful little boy, 7 years old, who was so full of happiness and life that he sprang right up and danced, surfed, sang, swam in jello and "bleahed" with an unabashed joy. It made me so happy to be the inspiration for that. But I have to admit that deep inside, I also felt a little sad....
Just about a week ago, I learned that the boy who was part of the inspiration for my song "The Jump Rope Queen," passed away last year at the age of 18. When I knew him back in 1996 he was the state jump rope champion among boys from first grade, and the jump rope queen was the state jump rope champion among girls from first grade, and the lovely coincidence is that they were both in the same class. They jumped rope with that same unabashed joy on the playground, and they were just happy little kids, full of life and promise. I couldn't help but make up a song about them.
Somewhere over the last 12 years something went drastically wrong, however. The young man became involved with illegal drugs, and passed away from an overdose. I keep asking myself over and over, "How does this happen? How do they go from joyful little children to troubled teens?" But if we knew the answer to that, and heeded its message, there would be no teen casualties from drugs, drinking or violence, and they would all grow up to fulfill the childhood promise. I worry about it constantly with my own children; I fear that no matter how many times my husband and I have talked to them about these things, somewhere they might fall into that pit. Oh, that we could be there to make everything right for them 24-hours a day, like we did when they were little!
My heart breaks for his family and friends.
I will always remember him as that joyful little boy, jumping rope like made on the playground, with everyone gathered round and cheering him on.