News & Reviews

Fabulous family-friendly music for kids

By:   AXS Contributor Jul 14, 2014

With the recent rise in kids music, there is an abundance of artists who create songs that children love and parents find not just tolerable, but genuinely enjoyable. And one fascinating facet of this plethora of family-focused fare is that the music is fully independent. It is not funded by a label or a corporation, it’s homegrown, handcrafted and car-trunk distributed creations of care. Here are five kindie artists worthy of your attention who are making kids music that the entire family will enjoy.

…Don’t be fooled by the painfully cute clam puns on the cover of Happy As Clamsbecause Lena has a sinister wit that would make Montgomery Burns quiver with delight. Think edgy Carol Burnett for kids. If you really ponder the possible meanings lurking in some of her lyrics, it might make you put your hand to your mouth and exclaim, “Oh my!” But that’s exactly what makes her so Clam-tastic! She’s a viciously inventive creator with a brilliant mind that’s leaps and bounds ahead of the curve. Just one listen to “I Love ‘U’” will prove even Nashville’s top songwriters pale in comparison to her mastery of the craft.


Happy as Clams CD Review Giveaway

on Macaroni Kid, Babylon, NY

Friday, September 27, 2013

Happy As Clams was just chosen as a Parents Choice Awards® Winner! Songs by Lena features Lena, local momusician who is setting the bar high for eclectic children’s music. Her music is original, her husband is in the band and from the moment you turn the CD on you feel like in you’re in a musical, which is one of the reasons my little actress seemed to be so drawn to it. I also love that Lena’s site gives parents some ideas on how you can make the song into more than just a silly dance. With Summer over you and your family can continue the season indoors!

BWW CD REVIEWS: HAPPY AS CLAMS is Fun For the Whole Family

by Brittany Goldfield Rodrigues

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lena Pennino-Smith of Long Island, New York and her “clamily” bring you HAPPY AS CLAMS, an album that preaches kid-friendly messages in a fun and silly way. On the album, Lena is joined by her performer husband Brian Smith as well as 20 Long Island singers and musicians. Lena’s voice is smooth, soft, sweet, and perfect for this kind of album, which is geared towards young kids and their parents.

This record is fun for the whole family with it’s silly and quirky nature. The tracks all teach valuable lessons. Lena addresses hygiene with “Hugh Stinkfoot,” family with “I Love ‘U’,” and manners in “Grabby the Crabby.” HAPPY AS CLAMS is as punny and adorable as its tagline: It’s time to “shellebrate” with your preschoolers and the whole “clamily.” While most music for children is corny and slightly dumbed down, Lena’s music is the opposite. HAPPY AS CLAMS is clever, witty, and acknowledges the intelligence of young children. Also, parents will enjoy the track “Cup of Jo-Jo” because, quite frankly, who doesn’t love a good song about coffee? Any track about caffeine is sure to reel parents in. HAPPY AS CLAMS has songs for both kids and their parents to enjoy.

This album is definitely perfect for long car rides with youngsters who just refuse to sit still. The album even comes with interactive game ideas that incorporate movement while listening to the songs. The songs are the perfect amount of silly and offbeat, and they are sure to entice any child who listens.

Go on a roadtrip with your little ones, pop this in, and you are guaranteed a fun time.

HAPPY AS CLAMS is currently available for purchase online at iTunes and Amazon.

Read more about BWW CD REVIEWS: HAPPY AS CLAMS is Fun For the Whole Family by


Music to make the kids “Happy as Clams”

by Andrea Moore Paldy

June 20, 2013

If you’re looking for a complement to those Music Together tunes, or maybe a little break from Raffie and Laurie Berkner, then you’ll definitely want to check out Lena Pennino’s debut album, “Happy as Clams.

When Lena and her husband, Brian Smith, performed at North Shore Montessori earlier this month, their audience of preschoolers and elementary school-aged children laughed themselves silly as they tried to brush imaginary crabs from their shoulders during the “Grabby the Crabby” song.

And when I heard, “Mama going slow-slow, she wants her Jo-Jo,” the first bluesy verse from the song “Cup of Jo-Jo,” I hopped on board too.

Lena’s eclectic collection of original children’s songs features different musical styles, funny lyrics and memorable characters like her bickering happy clams, Grabby the Crabby, and the infamous pirate Hugh Stinkfoot.

“When I write songs, the story is first. To me, it doesn’t matter what genre, as long as it serves to propel the story forward,” says Lena, a journalist who has written for Suffolk Life newspapers, The Long Island Catholic and currently works part-time editing the Massapequa Post, Amityville Record and Babylon Beacon.

Lena says music and theater have always been in her blood.  In fact, she met her husband, a middle school math teacher, during a children’s theater production of “Peter Pan.” She was a pirate and he was Captain Hook. (“Once Upon a Time” viewers, I know what you’re thinking.)

Though she describes her early attempts at songwriting as “kind of terrible,” when her 2 1/2-year-old son was born, the songs just started coming. Her first song, “Lullabye-Bye,” is the second to last song on the “Happy as Clams” album.

“My husband and I spent many nights pushing the stroller, walking around the house,” and singing that song, Lena recollects. And what parent can’t relate to nights of walking the floors trying to get a baby to succumb to sleep?

Lena, who lives in Babylon, says it takes her about two weeks to write a song from start to finish, though she tends to work on more than one song at a time. Usually, she says, the title of the song comes first and then the words. She develops the melody either on guitar or the piano and charges her husband Brian, who still directs and performs in the Long Island theater world, with coming up with the more intricate musical flourishes.

At first the songs were meant for friends and family, but, she says, “When I realized that the album might be for other people, I started writing differently.”

As she explains it, she started thinking more about her audience and how her songs could be performed for her audience.  “To me, if you have a beautiful song and they’re not involved in any way, then there is not a point. Everything we try to do, we try to give the kids a role,” she says.

Though you may not see Lena performing for the next couple of months due to the new “clamily” member who arrived earlier this week, you can still get her music on iTunes, Google Play, or purchase her CD through her website or CD Baby Music Store.

Here’s hoping the new arrival inspires her musical mommy to produce another album soon!



My 5 and 2 year olds love this cd. They know all of the song and it is the first thing they ask for as soon as we get in the car. My husband and I not get sick of listening to it either, which can happen after listening to a childrens cd on a long car ride. My 5 yeard old also has it on her Ipod and we hear her singing around the house to all the songs! It is a great cd and I highly recommed it.

-Anonymous  (Posted October 25, 2013)


I bought this CD for my son who is 2 years old. He is completely in love with it and never gets tired of it. And I am happy to say I dont either as it is great songs that adults can enjoy also. The songs are fresh and fun and keep you singing along. Perfect for car trips. Highly recommend the purchase.

-Anonymous (Posted September 6, 2013)

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