Book-and-Cassette Live Oak Media 2001
CS ISBN 0874997437 $15.95 One cassettes
[Editor's Note: The Following is a combined review with MOLE MUSIC, MUFARO'S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHERS, and SPACE CASE.]--Listening to children's books you have read aloud yourself is an interesting experience; you appreciate the positives and negatives of each performance in light of your own. Ultimately, however, it is often the musical accompaniment that makes the most difference. MOLE MUSIC, written by David McPhail and performed by Jim Weiss, is a perfect selection for a read-along. Weiss's narration of McPhail's lovely story is slow and gentle, allowing the reader time to read along and enjoy the wonderful illustrations. The violin music in the background enhances the mood--from the screeching in the beginning to the soft, gentle melodies that entertain the world in the end. The illustrations, showing the double story above and below the ground, underscore the themes of practice, peace, and humility. Likewise, it is the music that makes the difference in the read-aloud version of MAMA DON'T ALLOW, by Thacher Hurd, performed by Tom Chapin. The wonderful jazzy introductory music sets the tone, and off we go. Chapin's friendly, easy-going voice invites us along, and the read-aloud format with background music makes it easier to narrate from the balloons on the pages. Chapin's alligator voices are excellent--a little sly, a little rough, and each one unique. Even good background music can't make up for an unimpressive narrator. In MUFARO'S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS, read by Robin Miles, the narration is almost too slow, building little momentum for the story. Miles's accent is interesting, although it's hard to tell if it's intended to be some African dialect. With little differentiation among the characters and a singsong quality to the narration, Steptoe's African retelling of a version of "Cinderella" becomes monotonous. And finally, music and sound effects can help improve a less than exceptional story line. In SPACE CASE, by Edward Marshall, the music adds to the Halloween mood, but it is the computer-simulated voice for the alien and the real kids' voices in this multicast performance that make it an enjoyable listening experience. The voices and musical accompaniment only help to enhance the whole experience and make it a solid choice for younger kids. W.L.S. (c) AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine [Published: FEB/ MAR 02]
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