Category Archives: Actors

Mose the Fireman by Eric Metaxas


Mose the Fireman Book Cover

Blog 2 Info

Genre:  Adventure / New York / Firefighters / Tall Tale
Year Published: 1993
Year Read:  2009

Publisher: Rabbit Ears Books

Series: American Heroes and Legends

Blog 1 Introduction logo“Mose the Fireman” is a brilliant story from Rabbit Ears Productions about how New York’s greatest fireman, Moses “Mose” Humphrey single  handily saves New York city from fires everywhere. Michael Keaton’s New York accented narration along with Walter Becker and John Beasley’s jazzy music and Everett Peck’s scratchy yet hilarious illustrations make “Mose the Fireman” a worthy video for children to watch for many years.

Blog 3 SummaryMoses Humphrey was born in 1809, the same year that Abraham Lincoln was born and one winter, there was an enormous fire in New York and it spread all over the city. While the firemen were putting out the fire, there was suddenly a huge explosion from one of the buildings as the top half of one of the buildings was blasted to pieces and the pieces of the top half of the building fell into the East River. The firemen thought that everyone who was trapped in the building was given up for dead until one of the fireman from engine number  forty heard a cry in a busted hog head. When the firemen went to inspect the hog head, they found a small red-headed baby inside the hog head and the firemen of engine number forty decided to adopt the child and they named him Moses, but everyone called him Mose.

Blog 4 ProsMichael Keaton’s narration is brilliant and creative as he uses a New York accent to narrate the story, giving the story a spirited feel of the city of New York. Also, Michael Keaton sounds extremely rough yet smooth when he is narrating this story, making the characters, mainly Mose, somewhat tough guys while they save the town at the same time. Walter Becker and John Beasley’s music is jazzy and truly captures the spirit of New York. The music is also frenetic during the action scenes, making the scenes stand out very well as there is some tension added towards the music and yet the music is still jazzy enough to make people dance through the dramatic scenes rather than wait  in anticipation about what is going to happen next in the scene. Everett Peck’s illustrations are scratchy yet hilarious at the same time, giving a rough feel to the story. The illustration that is the true highlight of the story is the illustration of Mose himself as he has a squared chin and is extremely muscular and yet has a friendly  smile on his face throughout the video, making him somewhat a tough character who loves to help people wherever he goes.

Blog 6 Overall

“Mose the Fireman” is a great story for children who love to read stories about the world of firefighting and who also love to read about various tall tales in America . I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since some of Michael Keaton’s narration might be a bit too hard for smaller children to understand.

017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond1994 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award (audio)

017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond1994 Parenting Magazine Video Magic Award (Top 10 Videos of 1994)
5 stars

Also reviewed at: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

Anansi by Brian Gleeson


Anansi Book CoverBlog 2 Info

Genre:  Comedy / Jamaica / Animals / Morals / Trickery
Year Published: 1991
Year Read:  1993

Publisher: Rabbit Ears Books

Series: We All Have Tales

Blog 1 Introduction logoI have seen many videos from Rabbit Ears Productions and my favorite ones were “The Fool and the Flying Ship” and “The Fisherman and his Wife.” But now, I have stumbled upon another video from the Rabbit Ears series that has also become a favorite of mine and that video is “Anansi.” “Anansi” has become one of my favorite Rabbit Ears videos because of its Jamaican theme story and Denzel Washington’s dazzling narration. Unlike, most Rabbit Ears stories, “Anansi” has two stories combined into one story.

Blog 4 Pros“Anansi” is full of positive  elements that I would like to point out. One of those positive elements is Denzel Washington’s narration. Denzel Washington does a terrific job at narrating this story as he speaks with a fluent Jamaican accent making the audience believe that he is really from Jamaica. Probably one of the most memorable quotes  spoken by Denzel Washington was when Anansi was telling the other animals he will not eat anything until the eighth day which he brilliantly states, “Me eat on the eighth day!” Another positive element in this story was the music done by UB40. UB40 provides the perfect Jamaican score to match  the laid back mood of the story. One great example of UB40’s masterful skills in making Jamaican music was when they start to pace up the beat when Anansi is dancing around trying to get the hot beans off his head and when they create a sharp beat of saws and hammers when reacting the scene where the African-Americans were being sold to slavery in the beginning of the story. The last positive element that I would like to point out is in Steven Guarnaccia’s illustrations. Steven Guarnaccia’s illustrations are jagged yet creative in making the glorious drawings of Anansi and his animal friends. My favorite illustration by Steven Guarnaccia was of Anansi the spider himself as he was portrayed as a Jamaican spider with black dreadlocks and a yellow and orange Hawaiian T-shirt.

Blog 6 Overall

“Anansi” is a classic among both adults and children because the children will enjoy the colorful drawings done by Steven Guarnaccia and the masterful storytelling by Denzel Washington. Parents would also enjoy this story because they may have been big fans of Denzel Washington and would not be disappointed for his performance in this short  story. Since, there is nothing inappropriate in this story, “Anansi” is a perfect video to watch for the entire family. However, due to lack of animation in this video, some kids who are more familiar with action may find this video a tad bit boring, but Denzel Washington’s narration, UB40’s music and Steven Guarnaccia’s illustrations will keep the kids interested.

017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond1991 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award

017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond1991 Parents’ Choice Gold Award

017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond1991 California Children’s Video Award

5 stars

Also reviewed at: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

Follow the Drinking Gourd by Bernardine Connelly


Follow the Drinking Gourd Book Cover

Blog 2 Info

Genre: Family / African American / Slavery / Drama / Racism
Year Published: 1992
Year Read:  1993

Publisher: Rabbit Ears Books

Series: American Heroes and Legends

Blog 1 Introduction logo
“Follow the Drinking Gourd” is another tender story from Rabbit Ears’ “American Heroes and Legends” series and it masterfully details the story of how a family of African-American slaves tried to escape slavery through the Underground Railroad.  This story is clearly one of Rabbit Ears’ best stories and also their most dramatic story ever created.

Blog 4 ProsMorgan Freeman’s tender narration is perfect for this story as he narrates with emotion and coolness about a family’s efforts to escape the hardships of the cotton plantation.  Morgan Freeman’s highlighted moment in this story comes when he makes a “FWAP!” sound effect when Mary’s mother covers her daughter’s mouth with her hand.  Taj Mahal’s guitar music is memorizing and perfect for the mood of this story, which is sad and tender as he expresses the family’s feelings about being slaves in a sorrowful guitar solo and when he sings the lyrics to the song “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” he sounds so dense and sad yet beautiful and peaceful.  Yvonne Buchanan’s illustrations are colorful and beautiful especially of the image of Mary herself as a light brown haired beauty who wears an old fashioned red checkered dress, as shown on the cover.

Blog 6 Overall“Follow the Drinking Gourd” is a true dramatic story about the Underground Railroad and it shows the bravery of the family in a positive light as they struggled to find the freedom that they longed for.  This story is a true masterpiece and is probably one of Rabbit Ears’ finest stories ever told and children ages five and up will truly appreciate this story of courage and wit.

017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond1993 Worldfest Houston Gold Award

017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond1993 Chicago International Children’s Film Festival Special Animation Jury Award

017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond1993 The New York Festivals Gold Medal
017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond1993 Parents’ Choice Silver Honors (video)

017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond1994 National Educational Film and Video Festival – Gold Apple

017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond1994 Parents’ Choice Gold Award (audio)

017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond1995 Grammy Award Nomination – Best Spoken Word Album for Children

5 stars

Also reviewed at: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

Story Discussions #5: Brer Rabbit and Boss Lion (1992)


Brer Rabbit and Boss Lion (1992)

Hey everybody! Welcome to “Story Discussions,” where we talk about various Rabbit Ears stories each week and you can talk about what you liked or hated about the Rabbit Ears story we will discuss for that week.
This week’s Rabbit Ears story we will be discussing this week is:

Brer Rabbit and Boss Lion (1992)

Narrated by: Danny Glover
Music by: Dr. John
Illustrated by: Bill Mayer

Out of the two versions of “Brer Rabbit” that I have seen Rabbit Ears Productions done, “Brer Rabbit and Boss Lion” is easily my most favorite version of this tale!  I loved the way that Danny Glover narrated this story as it was full of excitement and intensity and I think the highlight of Danny Glover’s narration was when he voiced Boss Lion and made him sound so menacing.  Dr. John’s music was really unique for this story as the blues sounding melodies made this story a treat to listen to and Bill Mayer’s exaggerated artwork of the characters really added a lot of humor to this tale!
So, what did you liked or hated about Danny Glover’s  narration on “Brer Rabbit and Boss Lion?”
Please feel free to answer below!

 

Brer Rabbit and the Wonderful Tar Baby by Eric Metaxas


Brer Rabbit and the Wonderful Tar Baby (1990)

Blog 2 Info

Genre:  Animal / African American / Trickery / Contraptions
Year Published: 1990
Year Read:  1993

Publisher: Rabbit Ears Books

Blog 1 Introduction logo

This is a Grammy-award nominated story that is masterfully done by the folks at Rabbit Ears. Danny Glover’s raspy yet calming narration and Taj Mahal’s solo guitar music helps complements the story of those two tricksters, Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox.

Blog 4 Pros
Danny Glover does a great job at narrating this story as he provides inflections throughout the story such as going deep when he does Brer Fox and going high-pitched when he does Brer Rabbit. Danny Glover’s narration is calm and energetic and makes this story great to listen to on the ears. Taj Mahal’s solo guitar music is excellent as the music greatly matches the story’s calm mood and southern roots.

Blog 5 Cons
Although, I found nothing inappropriate about this story, I felt that Henrik Drescher’s illustrations were a little awkward for this story. Since, the mood of the story is calm and sweet, Henrik Drescher’s illustrations are a bit wild and blunt and the illustrations usually take the attention away from the main story. I did not like how the contraption came to be as it looks like a black jug that has wobbly legs attached to it instead of an actual person, which is normally seen in the other versions of this story.

Blog 6 Overall
Overall, this is a great story that fans of the Brer Rabbit would greatly appreciate. Both Danny Glover and Taj Mahal make a great team at providing the southern theme for this story. However, the illustrations may need to be improved to match the mood of the story.

Blog 7 Awards

http://etc-mysitemyway.s3.amazonaws.com/icons/legacy-previews/icons/blue-chrome-rain-icons-symbols-shapes/017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond.png1991 Grammy Awards – Nomination Best Recording for Children

4 stars

Also reviewed at: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

Brer Rabbit and Boss Lion by Brad Kessler


Brer Rabbit and Boss Lion (1992)

Blog 2 Info

Genre:  Animals / Folktale / African American / Trickery
Year Published: 1992
Year Read:  1994

Publisher: Rabbit Ears Books

Blog 1 Introduction logoBrer Rabbit has remained to be one the most popular folktales in American history. Of all the stories about Brer Rabbit’s escapades that I have heard, “Brer Rabbit and Boss Lion” remains to be one of my most favorite escapades of Brer Rabbit. Rabbit Ears’ version of how Brer Rabbit outsmarts Boss Lion is probably one of the most memorable versions since Danny Glover’s narration and Dr. John’s music greatly enhance this story.

Blog 4 Pros

Danny Glover’s narration is a hoot as he energetically tells the story of how Brer Rabbit outsmarted the big, bad lion. His voice goes from high-pitch as he voices Brer Rabbit and Brer Pig, to a deeply threatening tone when he voices Boss Lion. My favorite part of Danny Glover’s narration was when he voices Brer Pig’s discomfort about feeding Boss Lion by sounding so high-pitched and whiny that it makes this situation funny, even though the audience knows he is going to be eaten. Dr. John’s gritty blues music greatly matches with the chaotic tone of the story as the folks of Brer Village struggled to deal with Boss Lion. Dr. John uses somewhat chilling saxophone music to perform the intense scenes with Boss Lion. Bill Mayer’s illustrations are pure genius as it is both humorous and intense at the same time. His images of Boss Lion are beautifully detailed as Boss Lion is seen with pimples all across his face and his excessive drooling and sharp teeth greatly emphasizes the ugliness of Boss Lion. Also, the image of Brer Rabbit is greatly appreciated as he wears blue jean overalls to portray his tough exterior.

Blog 5 Cons

Parents should know that the image of Boss Lion may scare younger children, as I described in the pros section. Also, even though this story is great, it has many dark themes such as Boss Lion eating up the folks of Brer Village and threatening to eat Brer Rabbit a great number of times. But, that is not as bad as certain movies where the main protagonist would usually get killed during the movie and Brer Rabbit does make it out of this situation alive. However, I do feel sorry for the other folks of Brer Village, such as, Brer Pig and Brer Goose, getting eaten by the vicious Boss Lion.

Blog 6 Overall

“Brer Rabbit and Boss Lion” is a great video for everyone because of its occasional dark humor, such as, Boss Lion eating Brer Pig before he used the milkshake Brer Pig brought him for shampoo.  Also, families would enjoy the way that Brer Rabbit outsmarted Boss Lion in his own game and came back to the village as a hero.  This video / book is an instant treat for both children and adults, but parents may want to make sure that their children can handle the intense scenes of Boss Lion.

Blog 7 Awards

http://etc-mysitemyway.s3.amazonaws.com/icons/legacy-previews/icons/blue-chrome-rain-icons-symbols-shapes/017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond.png1992 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Awards – Platinum Award Winner

http://etc-mysitemyway.s3.amazonaws.com/icons/legacy-previews/icons/blue-chrome-rain-icons-symbols-shapes/017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond.png1993 Grammy Awards – Nomination for Best Album for Children Spoken Word

http://etc-mysitemyway.s3.amazonaws.com/icons/legacy-previews/icons/blue-chrome-rain-icons-symbols-shapes/017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond.png1993 American Library Association – Notable Children’s Recording

5 stars

 

Also reviewed at: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

Story Discussions #4: The Fool and the Flying Ship (1991)


The Fool and the Flying Ship (1991)

Hey everybody! Welcome to “Story Discussions,” where we talk about various Rabbit Ears stories each week and you can talk about what you liked or hated about the Rabbit Ears story we will discuss for that week.
This week’s Rabbit Ears story we will be discussing this week is:

The Fool and the Flying Ship (1991)

Narrated by: Robin Williams
Music by: The Klezmer Conservatory Band
Illustrated by: Henrik Drescher

As everyone knows, “The Fool and the Flying Ship” is my all-time favorite story from Rabbit Ears and what I loved so much about this story was that the narration, the music and the illustrations all combine effortlessly to create one hilarious and wild take on the ancient Russian folktale!  Robin Williams was brilliant in narrating this story as he brought so much humor to the story and made the story fun to watch!  The Klezmer Conservatory Band’s music brings in a creative flair to the story and Henrik Drescher’s illustrations is the icing on the cake as they are bizarre yet creative at the same time and really brings in a unique spin on this ancient folktale!
So, what did you liked or hated about Robin Williams’ narration on “The Fool and the Flying Ship?”
Please feel free to answer below!