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"The Night The Lights Went Out On Christmas"

Publisher's Weekly October 2015


The Griswoldian escalation of holiday decorating among competitive neighbors has an unexpected ripple effect in this rhyming fable inspired by a song from Paul’s holiday album, City of Silver Dreams. After years of trying to outdo each other with lights and inflatable lawn ornaments, the residents of Christmas Block create a visible-from-outer-space display that draws carloads of people “driving at their leisure./ They’d gawk and squawk and stare in shock,/ while their children had near seizures.” A blown fuse causes a global blackout, but the resulting celestial light display may prove the best decoration of all. Brundage’s increasingly flashy and jam-packed scenes match the over-the-top silliness of Paul’s song, before creating a stark contrast in later pages awash in nature’s inky blackness and astral shimmer. A free download of Paul’s tune is available. Ages 4–7. Illustrator’s agency: Shannon Associates. 

Singer & Songwriter Ellis Paul Visits G&P

Graham and Parks School March 30, 2015


As part of their study of American immigration, second and fourth graders at Graham and Parks were treated to a special performance by critically acclaimed acoustic singer-songwriter Ellis Paul. Paul shared his book The Hero in You which celebrates men and women who made significant contributions to American life. Originally from Boston, he has won 14 Boston Music Awards and was invited by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to pay tribute to his hero Woody Guthrie. This performance was made possible through an ongoing partnership with Folk New England (FNE). FNE works with Graham and Parks third graders to learn about the history of folk music in Cambridge, and with fourth graders to learn about the role that music has played in social change movements throughout American history.

Editor's Pick: "The Hero in You" by Ellis Paul

Nikki Klock February 2015


What do Rosa Parks, Benjamin Franklin, Chief Joseph, Woody Guthrie and Martha Graham have in common? All became heroes in their own way and in their own time, and all were once regular children with joys, sorrows, and a future full of opportunity and possibilities. Rosa Parks rose from a humble southern upbringing to sparking a revolution with the simple act of refusing to move on a bus. Woody Guthrie celebrated America through song and poetry, and became the voice of a generation who desperately needed hope. Singer songwriter Ellis Paul does the same for modern day children in his recent children’s book and accompanying CD, “The Hero in You” (Albert Whitman and Company, 2014). With original songs about the historical figures above and more, paired with Angela Padron’s illustrations, Paul inspires children to find their purpose and pursue their dreams by learning from those who have gone before.


“Everybody’s got a story,” he sings, “of all their troubles, all their glories . . . You can make the hero you are with your brains, your aim, and you battle scars . . . There’s no denying there’s a hero in you.”


Each song’s melody and instrumentals are matched cleverly to the hero described, and the tunes will leave kids and adults alike wonderstruck.

The Hero In You

Susan Roberts January 2015


The Hero in You includes a collection of thirteen songs about American heroes, written by award-winning songwriter Ellis Paul. Paul’s goal is to inspire kids to dream and reach for the better parts of themselves and reminds kids that the heroes were kids at one time, too. The book includes a CD with each song sung by Paul. Featuring a diverse cast, the book includes five females and eight males or four African Americans, one Native American and eight European Americans. The songs sung are the heart of the book and often include their philosophies, like, “He that is good for making excuses, is seldom good for anything else.” -Ben Franklin.  Providing the words to each song and pictures with child-appealing scenes, only enhances already well told stories written at a young child’s level. From little known heroes (Bly, Guthrie, O’Keeffe) to creative giants (Franklin, Edison, Einstein) the book instills a confidence that dreaming is important and can lead to great things.  This book and CD combination is a perfect way for teachers and parents to introduce American heroes to young listeners.

Ellis Paul's Hero in You

Teresa Pfeifer September 2014


K-Gr 4–Paul’s songs about 13 remarkable Americans comprise the text of this book and CD. The spreads 

include the words and several illustrations, with bubbles to fill in a few biographical details. The diverse 

group ranges from lesser-known individuals such as Nellie Bly and the White House chef for James 

Madison and “father of ice cream,” Augustus Jackson, to the likes of Woodie Guthrie and Rachel Carson. 

They represent an array of interests and careers: cooks, activists, musicians, artists, naturalists, 

scientists, dancers, inventors, peacemakers, and athletes. Paul’s message is overt: when we follow our 

hearts and are true to ourselves, our lives are often magnificent. He invites children to be themselves 

and find what it is they love. The songs and instrumentation are telling and appropriate for their subject 

and audience. A mournful flute is played at the start of Chief Joseph’s song, while Rachel Carson’s song 

is infused with birdsong and in keeping with the refrain, “She wandered, wondering, what could she 

bring/to give a voice to the silence of the spring.” While the simple cartoon illustrations provide 

information, along with the text, it is the music that really drives the emotional connection to these 

figures. It’s a celebration not to be missed.

Ellis Paul: The Hero in You

Arthur Wood April 2012

Ellis Paul’s first foray into children’s music DRAGONFLY RACES (2008)—it also worked for adults—picked up a Parents’ Choice Award Silver Medallion. I predict even greater success for his sophomore THE HERO IN YOU.


During the 1970s, as a teenager growing up in Maine, Paul recalls with fondness the pioneering Saturday morning ABC television children’s series Schoolhouse Rock! Employing animated musical shorts, the show covered a broad range of educational subjects. THE HERO IN YOU follows in those footsteps and paints portraits of men and women who made a significant impact on American life. By way of reference, I’ll include the dates of their birth/death.

The album title song, which launches this collection, introduces, nay, promotes the concept ‘YOU—the listener— can become a hero.’


Sound effects, pretty much throughout, allow the listener, young and old, to engage with the subject matter in each song, while the contributing players include album producer Flynn (electric & acoustic guitar, keyboards, loops, vocals), Michael Clem (bass, mandola, vocals) and Ellis’ young daughters.

The Hero in You

Lynne Heffley Spring 2012

The Hero in You is an inspired family album with execution to match. Singer-songwriter Ellis Paul offers a stirring, well-researched tribute to a wide array of American heroes, crafting vivid musical profiles of men and women whose words, actions, inventions and art made a profound difference to countless lives. Paul's eclectic selection includes some of the familiar names you might expect: Thomas Alva Edison, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein. Paul turns the latter's revolutionary mathematical equation E=mc2 into a memorable refrain.


Other choices are less expected: The tragic and heroic Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph; Nellie Bly, intrepid world traveler and investigative journalist before women had the vote; artist Georgia O'Keefe and groundbreaking dancer-choreographer Martha Graham. Rachel Carson, the environmental movement pioneer, is here. So are early African American entrepreneur and former White House chef Augustus Jackson and 20th century blues musician Mr. Tee Tot.


Paul connects his moving and celebratory biographical sketches with messages of positive reinforcement to young people to explore their own potential and follow their dreams. 

Album Review: Ellis Paul, "The Hero in You", 2012 Black Wolf Records

Holley Dey February 2012

It has been nearly a year since I watched Ellis Paul perform at Wilde Auditorium.   During a brief intermission his eyes scanned the audience, settling on a family of four that included two young sons.  Ellis offered to perform a song from his 2008 award winning family album, Dragonfly Races.  "Oh no,” said the mother, “they like the real stuff.”  There was a gentle indignation in his voice as Paul replied, “My children’s songs arethe real stuff."
And so they are.  Ellis Paul’s newly released family album, The Hero in You, is a collection of real songs about real people and their true stories from United States history. (January 2012, Black Wolf Records)  The lives of thirteen American heroes are set to music and presented with an audible sense of wonder and pride in their individual accomplishments.  The title track celebrates the potential hero in each of us.

The Dragonfly Races

Lynne Heffley Spring 2008

Noted folk singer-songwriter Ellis Paul serves up a deft, soulful acoustic mix of American folk and contemporary pop in songs that find magic in road trips, dragonflies, "The Star Inside the Apple" and swings and pinwheels - simple pleasures. Traditional folk themes of world peace and harmony resonate with immediacy, but are delivered with a gentle touch ("The Million Chameleon March," "The Little Red Rose").

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