Amy Friedman, Jillian Gilliland & Laura Hall,
Tell Me a Story
(Universal Press Syndicate, 2006)

For those of you with younger children, how often do you hear them say, "Tell me a story!" Probably every night as you put your child or children to bed, I would guess. While a parent will hopefully cherish these moments while they last, occasionally that parent might need a break. At such times, the audiobook Tell Me a Story might be just the thing to save you. With children's tales from around the world, this CD contains eight tracks ranging in length from just under 5 to more than 13 minutes. In all, there are more than 70 minutes worth of stories.

The first story on the CD is "A Sense of Theft." The story is set in an imaginary Jewish community. Zena is a poor woman who has been accused of a bizarre crime. The local baker, Mordecai, has charged Zena with being a thief of smells. Every day, she opens her window while Mordecai bakes. Yet, Zeno only to breathe in the delicious scents; she never buys any of Mordecai's goods. As such, he feels that she owes him. Zena is receiving pleasure from his hard work. How will she be judged? Will she be punished?

"Two Frogs from Japan" is a cute tale about a frog from Osaka and another from Kyoto. They both think the other's city would be worthy of a visit. Their paths cross at the top of a mountain from where you can see both cities depending upon which direction you are facing. Through a mistake, they end up thinking there is no difference in their homes, so why bother traveling far to experience a new locale. On the one hand, it makes the listener think that home is a place worth being. Unfortunately, it might kill a young adventurous spirit before it has a chance to grow.

"The Clever Girl" is based on a Czechoslovakian folktale. This is a great story for a young girl, letting her know that girls are just as smart, if not smarter in many cases, than the males that rule the world. Hannah is a farmer's daughter. She marries a young local magistrate who is known for solving issues by use of riddles. To settle disputes, this magistrate would often pose thoughtful questions to the parties involved. He would base his decisions upon their answers. While the magistrate might think he is the most clever person around, he has clearly met his match when Hannah enters his life.

While each story is told by a different actor, the audiobook as a whole was put together by three main individuals. Amy Friedman is the author. She has written more than 750 tales that could be used to produce quite a series of these CDs. Amy has been compiling these stories since 1992. Jillian Gilliland is the illustrator. Jillian has drawn the art work for at least 26 books, some of them winning her awards for her talents. Laura Hall, who has released music CDs for children, helped bring the stories to life by creating the music as well as adding sound effects as necessary.

I tuck two boys in bed at night. They are currently 5 years old and often ask me to read them a story at bedtime. They are both very visual, so they tend to prefer books with pictures. As I have only the CD inserts with pictures, they have so far not been too enamored with the stories presented here. I am hopeful that will change as they get a little older. I have quite enjoyed these audio stories. I think the various readers do a fairly good job. Plus, the extra music and behind the reading background noise adds another layer to the experience. If you have young ones, I think Tell Me a Story could be a nice addition to your child(ren)'s library.

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review by
Wil Owen

10 April 2010

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