Singer Lisa Loeb drew on past musical experience Friday when she performed for elementary students in Glen Ellyn.
The tunes she sang weren't from the 1990s, when her song "Stay" topped the charts, but from an even earlier time -- her days in summer camp.
Loeb said she loved singalongs during the summer camps she attended as a child in Texas. So she tried to capture that spirit in her new book: "Lisa Loeb's Silly Sing-Along: The Disappointing Pancake and Other Zany Songs."
Students at Churchill School in Glen Ellyn had read the singalong book, listened to "The Disappointing Pancake" and Loeb's other children's songs, and were full of questions for the singer during an afternoon assembly.
"We want to know especially about 'The Disappointing Pancake' because a lot of Churchill students thought that was really creative," said Janis Pfister, literacy specialist, who questioned Loeb between songs on students' behalf.
Loeb said inspiration came from her enjoyment of songs about inanimate objects launching into long journeys, such as the "On Top of Spaghetti" spoof on the folk tune "On Top of Old Smokey."
Loeb's pancake begins its journey on her breakfast-for-dinner plate one evening. But it's hard as a rock, and trying to cut the pancake sends it rolling out of the house and into an adventure.
"The pancake wasn't very good at breakfast, but it actually swooped in and saved the day in a lot of different situations," Loeb said.
It turned into a catcher's mitt and helped out during a baseball game. It served as a spare tire when a biker popped a flat. It even became a sombrero in Spain.
And one of the song's lyrics says the pancake is a lot like everyday people -- talented at some things even if challenged at others.
Pfister also asked students' questions about Loeb's age when she wrote her first song ("Fried Eggs" at age 14), and how she has such a nice voice (lessons from a voice coach and vocal warm-up exercises).
And what about Loeb's favorite childhood memory?
"I used to love going to the library with my friend," Loeb said. "We would find all these books we liked, like "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle."
After Loeb's performance, one class of fifth grade students performed their own take on one of her songs, complete with signs and movements.
Then, fifth graders Shiriah Acolatse and Jerico Malunay, both 10, of Glendale Heights, got to join Loeb onstage and thank her for her Friday afternoon performance. Shariah gave Loeb a tye-dyed Churchill T-shirt as a way to remember the school and its students.