Amy Friedman, Jillian Gilliland & Laura Hall,
Tell Me a Story 2: Animal Magic
(Universal Press, 2007)

Amy Friedman, Jillian Gilliland and Laura Hall are back with a second collection of children's tales from around the globe. This CD contains seven stories that range from just over 5 minutes to nearly 12 minutes in length. Together, they add up to more than an hour's worth of storytelling. Like the previous audiobook, every tale in :Animal Magic is told by a different actor. Music and background sound effects add extra layers to simply reading a story.

Friedman has been writing these stories for more than 17 years. She has collected over 750 tales in that time. Gilliland, an award-winning illustrator, provides the cover and artwork in the liner notes. Hall, who you might know as the piano player from the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, was in charge of the music and other sounds you will hear on the CD. The actors presented on the CD -- one for each story -- hail from around the world.

"The Tortoise & the Magic Drum" is a Nigerian tale about why turtles live in lakes and streams eating bugs and hiding from the world. Apparently, way back in the day, a Nigerian king owned a drum that provided an unending feast to its owner whenever that owner would beat upon the drum. However, the drum's joo-joo would be broken and the owner plagued with bad luck if that owner ever stepped on and broke a branch. Turtle acquires the drum from the king and enjoys its bounty for a time. But one day, he steps on a branch and the following bad joo-joo sends him hiding in lakes and streams.

"Kerplunk" is an amusing story from Australia. In some respects, this story is a little like "Chicken Little" in that the main character gets scared for the wrong reasons and ends up causing a lot of fear amongst the other animals in the area. In the end, the morale of the story is to pay more attention and figure out what is really happening before you run off scared as well as causing grief and havoc for no real reason.

"The Talking Cat" is almost as amusing as "Kerplunk." This French-Canadian story tells of an old woman and her cat. This lady lives very frugally and only has her quiet feline for companionship. One day, a gentleman arrives asking for food and shelter in exchange for doing chores. The old lady rejects his offer, but her cat speaks for the first time and tells her to trust the man. Shocked that her cat speaks, the old lady listens to what he says. Is everything as it appears or is there some trickery going on here?

Some children are fine with audio while many, like my own kids, prefer pictures. Since I do not have an accompanying book to go along with the CD, I am afraid that I enjoy these stories more than my 5-year-olds currently do. I am hopeful that this will change as they get older as these CDs offer a rich change of pace. I certainly would not want one of the Tell Me a Story audiobooks to take the place of my reading to my kids, but the occasional break would certainly be appreciated. I would think that many children (and most adults) would quite enjoy the tales told on Tell Me Story 2.

[ visit the author's website ]

review by
Wil Owen

5 June 2010

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