Cheri Moon is known for her distinctive brand of children’s music that emphasizes building and expanding a child’s social awareness. Under the name Snooknuk, she has collaborated with a diverse range of iconic contemporary artists such as Timbaland, Jimmy Douglass, Kevin Rudolf, and Danja. Moon also gained a name as a jingle writer, having contributed to advertising campaigns for McDonald’s, Burger King, Joe Boxer, and K-Mart, and is currently executive producer for the educational show Bug Bites on PBS.
With her first album ’’Once Upon a Day, a Little Less Tears”, which comprises of 15 tracks, Snooknuk has continued that streak of success this year with her second album, ‘’Once Upon a Day, A Lot More Funny’’.
The album’s cover stands out for its vivid color palette, and for being the first in the series to feature Moon herself. Taking the visual factor into consideration, Moon’s personality is made even more resonant from the start of the album. The first few tracks – “Ready for School,” “Hold My Hand to Cross the Road,” and “Listen Listen,” are bolstered by Moon’s signature tonality, which comes across as bubbly and cheery on the surface, with nuances of tranquility and grace in the same way. As the album progresses, each track helps children recognize the value of people – be they authority figures, family, or friends – as well as practical means of handling situations, whether positive or negative. Interestingly, the fourth track, “Patience,” succeeds with its ability to extend its message toward adults. Its hooky, pop-sensible factor seems to be immediately apparent, and even though there isn’t a direct focus on what patience is as a concept, it is something that all of us can feel, and subsequently understand instinctually. “Try Again,” which caps the album’s first side, is especially effective. Rather than deem failure as a longstanding hindrance, Moon normalizes failure as part of the human experience, and the basis for improvement.
While the album’s flipside tends to have a continuation of previously expressed themes, such as the importance of staying safe, and demonstrating kindness respect toward others, the latter angle seems to be more evident in the tenth track, “We’re All the Same.” I appreciate the pacing in which Moon moves to highlight a person’s unique features, from the subtler eye and hair color to the more visibly evident – body type and skin color, both of which a child may struggle to come to terms with as they grow. In doing so, she makes a point to say humans are unified by nature, and that there’s a special quality in their learning to embrace themselves. The penultimate track, “Don’t Cry,” expands on that notion of self-expression reminding children that it’s okay to seek help if something is troubling them and that emotional support from friends or family is nearby.
Overall, ‘’Once Upon a Day, a Lot More Funny’’ maintains the familiar elements that made Snooknuk’s previous album shine, and succeeds once again. Not only are most of the songs especially memorable this time around, but Moon’s sense of thematic direction, instrumental diversity, presentation, and even the production, are all noticeably improved. While not a regular fan of children’s music, I actually enjoyed this album quite a bit as a collection of standalone pop songs. After two volumes, Moon’s penchant for writing and singing, for both children and adults alike is clear here, and it will be interesting to see how she dives deeper into this craft on a future release, or perhaps, a new series entirely.