Future Reflections Winter 1987, Vol. 6 No. 1

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By Gaye Delaplane

(This Gannett News Service article appeared in the March 2, 1986 nbwa Des Modnes Register)

"Talking books" are not only growing in numbers - they're growing in popularity. Kids of all ages are discovering the fun of listening to a story unravel during a car ride or during a long snowy afternoon.

The other news is that these creative little cassettes now come in creative packages - wooden boxes, colorful tin cans and sturdy book-shaped holders. Kids 8 years old and older will like Audio Book Contractor's production of "Five Children and It," by Edith Nesbit (who wrote " The Railway Children)."

Flo Gibson, who has a wonderful voice, narrates this tale about five English children who find a sand fairy. But this ancient psammead (a furry, fat creature with snail-like eyes, bat's ears, and hands and feet like a monkey's) is no TinkerbelL The psammead is wise - especially when it starts granting the children's wishes. What happens when those wishes come true will provide some fun and some unusual adventures.

Gibson also narrates the followup story-"The Phoenix and the Carpet" -- which involves the same children, this time with a magical carpet, the mythical Phoenix, a reappearance of the psammead, and more wishes that come true with unexpected results.

The three-cassette edition of Edna Mason Kaula's "African Village Folktales," for example, starts off each story with a description of the people and location. The animal tales (read by Brock Peters and Diane Sands) come from 19 tribes, including Bushman, Pygmy, Chagga, and Amhara.

Each cassette includes a small map of Africa showing the tribal locales. "

Chinese Fairy Tales," read by Siobhan McKenna, has 10 stories, including "The Chinese Red Riding Hood," "The Tigers Teacher," and "The Sparrow and the Phoenix."

"The Twelve Labors of Heracles" (drawn from Padraic Colum's "The Golden Fleece") offers kids an exciting introduction to Greco-Roman mythology. Anthony Quayle relates "The Nemean Lion," The Hydra," The Bull of Minos," and nine other tales in a voice that captures the excitement.

And for sheer fun, give a listen to "Canned Laughter" from the Mind's Eye. This collection of riassic: radio shows includes Jack Benny, George Bums and Grade Allen, W.C. Fields, Groucho Marx, Will Rogers, and Mae West. And "Canned Laughter" comes in cans.

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