Songs in the Shade of the Flamboyant Tree: Book/CD

 French Creole Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes Are a Cultural Treat


Songs in the Shade of the Flamboyant Tree is an amazing collection of nursery rhymes and songs gathered from parents who grew up in Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Reunion Island.  I was excited to share this book and listen to the accompanying CD with my children as a way to explore the world with them and open their eyes to new cultures.

The book is full of colorful paintings done by Laurent Corvaisier. The colors are bold and each rhyme (written as an English translation of the words) is numbered so that you can easily follow along with the songs on the CD.  Even without listening to the CD you could read the rhymes (which don’t often rhyme once translated into English) and enjoy the pictures with your child.  However, I will say that some of the rhymes and songs contain aspects from Creole culture such as mysterious animals, devils, and characters with magical or evil powers that my children didn’t appreciate.  

My children (especially my son who was born to be a drummer) loved the variety of percussion instruments used in the music.  Some of the instruments used are the bamboo flute, accordion, banjo, piano, and a host of percussion instruments I was not familiar with such as the piker, ti bwa and bélé drum.  We definitely felt like we were in the Caribbean while listening to the music.

One of the nursery rhymes we enjoyed was Ti Train Longtemps (The Little Train of Yore, translated version):

    Tell me it you know what the train of old sounded like/

    La picapab’ picapab’ picapab’ all the way to Saint-Louis station/

    Tiou tiou tiou tiou!/

    It moved slowly, but it was still happy/

You can feel and hear the train though the beat and rhythm of the music!  Reading the background information on this song I learned about how the arrival of the train to Reunion greatly impacted daily life for the free people and the slaves.

This book and CD set is a great way to learn about another culture by experiencing it.  As you listen to the music you feel the desire to just get up and dance!  At the end of the book there are the words to each song in French Creole and English, as well as a very informative explanation of each piece.  

I appreciated the background information because it helped me understand the meaning behind the words which often seemed out of place in a children’s nursery rhyme, but which make so much sense when seen in the context of the Creole culture.

So if you’re interested in learning more about French Creole culture in a visual and auditory manner, this book and CD set is just what you need!

Songs in the Shade of the Flamboyant Tree: French Creole Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes

Chantal Grosleziat, Compiler; Laurent Corvaisier, Illustrator; Paul Mindy, Producer

$12.71 on

Manufacturer website:

 Appealed to My Children  4
 Appealed to Adults  4
 Would Listen to More Than Once  4
 Child Appropriate Content  5
 I Would Purchase This Product for My Family  yes
 I Would Purchase This Product as a Gift  yes
 Overall rating  4

All ratings on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

Meet the Reviewer!

Janice Richardson is an elementary

school teacher turned stay-at-home

mom of three energetic little ones,

ages 4, 2 and 5 months.  She enjoys

playing with her family, being outdoors,

and eating chocolate.  Janice blogs

about some of the activities she and her

children enjoy at

One of her goals is to someday visit

each of the 50 states and each continent.


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