Tuesday, October 28, 2014

[AUDIOBOOK REVIEW] Rabbit Ears Treasury of Storybook Classics Volume 1: Pecos Bill and Puss in Boots

Title:  Rabbit Ears Treasury of Storybook Classics Volume 1:  Pecos Bill and Puss in Boots

Author:  Rabbit Ears

Genre:  Tall Tale / Fairy Tale / France / Humor / Animals

Year Published: 2007

Year Read: 2011

Series: Rabbit Ears Treasury: Storybook Classics #1

Publisher:  Listening Library (Audio)

Source:  Purchased

Content Rating:  Ages 5+ (Some Crude Humor)

Buy or Add on:  Amazon  //  Goodreads

 Imagine two of your favorite celebrities (Robin Williams and Tracey Ullman in this case) narrating stories that are targeted towards children.  That is a fantastic thought is it not?  That is what I thought whenever I listen to any of these classic “Rabbit Ears Treasury” audio CD series and this small collection which is called “Rabbit Ears Treasury of Storybook Classics Volume 1: Pecos Bill and Puss in Boots” is definitely an audio CD that is right up my alley!

I have pretty much already summarized both of these stories through their book counterparts, so I will just briefly summarize each story:

Pecos Bill
Told by: Robin Williams
Music by: Ry Cooder

Join the wild and rollicking adventures of America’s number one cowboy, Pecos Bill! Listen to the stories of how Pecos Bill created the first cattle drive, meet up with a sassy yet beautiful cowgirl and managed to wrestle with a cyclone single-handedly!

Puss in Boots
Told by: Tracey Ullman
Music by: Jean-Luc Ponty

When the youngest son of a miller wanted to eat Puss in Boots, Puss in Boots tries to help the youngest son win the hand of the king’s daughter and get a kingdom in order to save his hide!
 Be amazed! Be very, very amazed at what two small stories can pack into an hour!

These two tales that are considered the more hilarious and modernized versions of the classic fairy tales are pure epic classics! 

My favorite of the two stories is probably “Pecos Bill” because Robin Williams has always been one hilarious actor and his narration of this ancient tall tale really brought this story to life!  I really loved the spectacular adventures that Pecos Bill endures such as lassoing a cyclone in the west!  Ry Cooder’s music is simply magical and fits the playful mood of the story perfectly as it gives the story a more energetic feel.  In the second story, “Puss in Boots,” Tracey Ullman is just as hilarious in her narration as Robin Williams was in narrating “Pecos Bill.”  I always have a thing for actors portraying certain accents fluently and Tracey Ullman portrayed both a French accent and a British accent within this story with such clarity that I actually imagined myself living during those times.

Jean-Luc Ponty’s music is extremely graceful and it fits the somewhat sophisticated mood of this story perfectly as the music is mainly composed of violin musical pieces.
There is only one small and tiny problem with this audio CD and it is that there is no book to accompany it.  For those of you who have grown up with the Rabbit Ears stories during the 80s and 90s, you might remember that there used to be a little something called books and cassettes where the books are sold along with the tape cassettes that contain the stories being narrated by the celebrities.  So, you might be a bit disappointed that there are no books accompanying these audio CDs because, if you wanted to share these stories with your children or with your friends, then it might be a bit difficult to show them how the story goes without the book being accompanied with the audio CD.

Overall, “Rabbit Ears Treasury of Storybook Classics Volume 1: Pecos Bill and Puss in Boots” is definitely one collection of classic stories that you certainly do not want to miss and it will definitely remain with many children for years to come!

Now before I close up this review, I would like to ask you all a question:

Question: Have you heard of Rabbit Ears Productions before?

If you had heard of this company before, relate your favorite stories or your experiences with this series or if you have not heard of this series before, go ahead and check out this fantastic series!

[BOOK REVIEW] John Henry by Brad Kessler

Title:  John Henry

Author:  Brad Kessler

Artist:  Barry Jackson

Genre:  Tall Tale / African-American / Railroads / Humor

Year Published: 1992

Year Read: 1992

Series: American Heroes and Legends

Publisher: Rabbit Ears Books

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 5+ (Death)

Buy or Add on:  Amazon  //  Goodreads

 “John Henry” is a Grammy- nominated video by the folks from the famous Rabbit Ears Productions.  In this tale, America’s greatest tall tale hero, John Henry, faces his biggest challenge against the steam drill, which will decide the fate of all the hard working people in the future.  Denzel Washington’s energetic narration, along with B.B. King’s soulful and jazzy music and Barry Jackson’s exuberant illustrations, all combine to make “John Henry” an instant treat for children young and old.
Denzel Washington’s narration is energetic, especially when he sounds like he is in awe when he narrates John Henry’s spectacular spectacles, such as being born with a hammer in his hand.  The scene that I thought was Denzel Washington’s greatest performance was the scene where John Henry is telling the stranger off about the steam drill as he goes into detail about how a man has a big heart while a steam drill only has a cold and steel heart.  B.B. King’s music is simply soulful and jazzy, giving this story a soulful edge to the famous tall tale.  I especially love the song that B.B. King sings about John Henry being a natural man and carrying a hammer in his hand and I love how that song is repeated throughout the story, so that it can remind the audience about what type of person John Henry is.  Barry Jackson’s illustration are colorful and creative, especially of the image of John Henry himself as John Henry mainly wear a white t-shirt and blue jeans and is always looking happy and confident about himself, which sends a great message about the importance of being confident in the activities that you do.  I also love the image of the stranger as he is wearing a yellow suit and even has a gold tooth in his mouth, which indicates that he is a city slicker.
“John Henry” is probably one of Rabbit Ears finest stories ever created as it talks about the importance of self-confidence and determination in doing the activities that pleases you.  I would recommend this video to children ages five and up since I do not find anything inappropriate in this video.

~*Just a little heads up, this is the review for the video version of this tale, but because the video version is exactly the same as the book version of this tale, this review accounts for both the book and the video.*~

[BOOK REVIEW] Koi and the Kola Nuts by Brian Gleeson

Title:  Koi and the Kola Nuts

Author:  Brian Gleeson

Artist:  Reynold Ruffins

Genre:  Folktale / Africa / Respect / Royalty / Animals

Year Published: 1991

Year Read: 1999

Series: We All Have Tales

Publisher: Rabbit Ears Books

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 6+  (Themes of Cannibalism)

Buy on:  Amazon  //  Book Depository 

I have grown up with this story ever since I was a child and I still love it to this very day!  “Koi and the Kola Nuts” is an African folktale from the folks at Rabbit Ears and it is about how a young and proud chief’s son named Koi tries to journey to a land where it treats the son of a chief with respect while meeting several friends along the way.  With Whoopi Goldberg’s amazing narration, Herbie Hancock’s brilliant African styled music and Reynold Ruffins’ colorful illustrations, “Koi and the Kola Nuts” is a truly wonderful folktale that everyone will love for many years to come!
This story was simply amazing!  Whoopi Goldberg has done an excellent job at narrating this story as she brings a royal tone to the story, especially in voicing Chief Faliliki.  I also loved the way that Whoopi Goldberg voiced Koi as being a young boy who is proud yet kind-hearted at the same time as it really made me relate more to Koi’s situation to find a village that treats him better.  I also loved the way that Whoopi Goldberg brings humor to the story, especially during the scene where the villagers chant out this verse when Koi comes to town:

“He’s no son of a chief.
He’s merely a thief.
There’s nothing worse,
Than an ozu with a curse.
Let’s have a great big feast,
Or a little one at least.”

And when Whoopi Goldberg was literally laughing while saying this verse, it really made me love this scene even more!  Herbie Hancock’s music was beautifully mesmerizing as it has African sounds embedded throughout the music and it really made me fully appreciate the beauty of African music while at the same time, providing the story a calming feel. Probably the highlight of Herbie Hancock’s music was during the scene with the alligator where the music turns dark and deep and it greatly complemented with the frightening appearance of the alligator and moving smoothly with the underwater scene the alligator was in. Reynold Ruffins’ illustrations are extremely colorful and beautiful, especially of all the different animals that Koi encounters.  My favorite image from this story has to be where Koi meets the alligator and when the alligator licks its jaws to indicate his point of eating the Rainmaker’s dog, his tongue is pink and ridged which gives him a somewhat frightening expression.

Parents should know that there is a theme of cannibalism in this story as Koi is threatened many times throughout this story that he will be eaten by the villagers unless he can complete the tasks set out for him.  This might be extremely upsetting for younger children and parents might want to wait a few years before they show this story to their children.

Overall, “Koi and the Kola Nuts” is a brilliant story that both children and adults who are huge fans of African folktales will easily love for many years.  I would recommend this story to children ages six and up since the cannibalism theme might frighten smaller children.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Sunday Post Meme (3)

Hey everybody! I am participating in a book meme called the Sunday Post which is being hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer! The goal of this meme is to share news you have on various books and things you've read or received and also talk about what is coming up for your blog!  Book hauls can include library books, yard sale finds, arcs and bought books and you can share these finds with other book bloggers!

What's Happened Last Week? 

I have just completed one of my squares for the Bookish Bingo! Check out the first update! 

New Additions to the Blog!

I have created a new meme called "Recommend This! Wednesday!" Here, you can recommend books to various readers and you can join in the fun by going to the Recommend This! Wednesday page and leave your name and a link to your blog and your updates to this meme!

Blogosphere Fun!

Well, that’s the Sunday News for today and I will have more news for the various books I’ve read in the near future!

Posted on Sunday, October 26, 2014