Category Archives: reviews

Rabbit Ears Treasury of Animal Stories: How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin, How the Game Got His Hump, How the Leopard Got His Spots, The Monkey People


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Blog 2 Info

Title:  Rabbit Ears Treasury of Animal Stories: How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin, How the Game Got His Hump, How the Leopard Got His Spots, The Monkey People

Author:  Rabbit Ears

Genre:  Animals / Folktale / Manners / Respect / Africa / Colombia
Year Published: 2007

Year Read: 2009

Series: Rabbit Ears Treasury

Publisher:  Listening Library (Audio)

Source:  Purchased

Content Rating:  Ages 7+ (Some Rude Behavior)

Blog 1 Introduction logo

Rhino

“Rabbit Ears Treasury of Animal Stories” is one of the first audio CDs released from Rabbit Ears Entertainment (or Rabbit Ears Productions as I fondly love to call it) and this audio CD features four stories called “How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin,” “How the Camel Got His Hump,” “The Monkey People” and “How the Leopard Got His Spots.” Each story is narrated by a famous celebrity during the 80s and 90s and it will be an instant treat for anyone who is a huge fan of Rabbit Ears stories!

Blog 3 Summary
Since I have already reviewed some of these stories on separate reviews, I will just briefly summarize each story:

How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin
Told by: Jack Nicholson
Music by: Bobby McFerrin

When a rude rhinoceros eats the Parsee Man’s delicious cake, the Parsee Man starts to take revenge on the rude rhinoceros.

How the Camel Got His Hump
Told by: Jack Nicholson
Music by: Bobby McFerrin

When an arrogant camel refuses to do his share of work, it is up to the Djinn of all Deserts to set the camel straight.

Monkey

The Monkey People
Told by: Raul Julia
Music by: Lee Ritenour

When an old man comes to a village full of lazy people and shows them monkeys cut out of leaves doing all the chores, the people learn the hard way about the importance of hard work.

How the Leopard Got His Spots
Told by: Danny Glover
Music by: Ladysmith Black Mambazo

When all the animals moved to the forest to hide from the Leopard and the Ethiopian, the Leopard and the Ethiopian must learn to camouflage themselves in order to eat to survive!

Blog 4 Pros
Oh my goodness! Imagine my surprise when I first heard about this animal series coming out on audio CD! I was so excited about listening to Jack Nicholson, Danny Glover and Raul Julia narrating these fantastic tales that I remembered from my youth! Each story was extremely interesting to the next story and the narrators and the musicians have both done an excellent job at narrating and providing appropriate music to each story. Out of all four stories featured on this audio CD, my favorites were “How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin” and “How the Camel Got His Hump” which were both narrated by Jack Nicholson and both had music by Bobby McFerrin. In both stories “How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin” and “How the Camel Got His Hump,” Jack Nicholson narrates both stories in an extremely silky voice that soothes you to the bone as you hear him narrate these stories and anyone who has seen Jack Nicholson in “The Shining,” will definitely be surprised at how calm he sounds in narrating these stories! Bobby McFerrin is truly magnificent in providing music for each story as he mainly uses his voice to create music for each story which brings so much creativity to the stories. Another story that I enjoyed on this disc was “How the Leopard Got His Spots” as I loved the way that Danny Glover narrates this story in an African accent which brings creativity to this story and Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s music is truly wonderful as they vocally sing in African tones.

Blog 5 Cons
Again, there is no book to go with this audio CD; however the narration and the music provided in this audio CD will help many fans still love this audio CD. 

Blog 6 Overall
All in all, “Rabbit Ears Treasury of Animal Stories” is a true treat for fans of the fantastic Rabbit Ears series and who love Jack Nicholson, Danny Glover and Raul Julia and I am sure that many children and adults will love this audio CD for many years to come! I would recommend this audio CD to children ages seven and up since the “Just So Stories” might be too complicated for younger children to understand.

5 stars
Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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Thumbelina by Hans Christian Andersen


Thumbelina (1989)

 

Blog 2 Info

Genre:  Denmark / Fairy Tale / Family / Romance
Year Published: 1989
Year Read:  1994

Publisher: Rabbit Ears Books

Blog 1 Introduction logo“Thumbelina” is one of the most cherished stories in the Rabbit Ears Storybook Classics series and is surely a classic in its own right. Kelly McGillis’ tender narration, along with Mark Isham’s memorizing music and David Johnson’s exquisite drawings, combine to make “Thumbelina” one of the tenderest stories in Rabbit Ears history.

Blog 4 Pros

Kelly McGillis’ narration is extremely tender as she makes this story extremely touching and soothing to watch and she also greatly expresses Thumbelina’s sorrow of being married to the mole in a sorrowful tone which brought life to that scene. Another great aspect of Kelly McGillis’ narration is that she provides a wide variety of vocal talents like Robin Williams when she uses a high-pitched voice to voice the field mouse and a croaking voice when she voices the toad. Mark Isham’s music is extremely soothing and memorizing to listen to and the scene where Mark Isham’s music takes center stage is in the scene where Thumbelina finds the flower angels’ kingdom as Mark Isham accompanies this scene with soothing guitar sounds. David Johnson’s illustrations are extremely beautiful and light toned especially when he illustrates Thumbelina as an extremely beautiful girl with blond hair wrapped up in a braided ponytail and who wears a blue overall dress. Also, the scene where there is an image of the white marble palace by the lake is extremely breathtaking as you can see the reflection of the palace in the lake.

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Blog 6 Overall

“Thumbelina” is probably Rabbit Ears’ most beloved story and it will surely be an instant treat to children young and old. I would recommend this story to children ages three and older since it has nothing inappropriate for the children.

Blog 7 Awards * 1989 Grammy Award Nomination for Best Recording for Children

 

5 stars

Also reviewed at: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

Rumpelstiltskin by Christopher Noel


Rumpelstiltskin Book Cover

Blog 2 Info

Genre:  Fairy Tale / Germany / Audiobook / Family
Year Published: 1991
Year Read:  2006

Publisher: Rabbit Ears Books

Series: We All Have Tales

Blog 1 Introduction logo

Rabbit Ears Productions is widely known for their celebrity narrated stories. The production also many stories that were highlights of the 1990s. “Rumpelstiltskin” is a popular story from Rabbit Ears “We All Have Tales” series and is greatly enhanced by Kathleen Turner’s narration, Tangerine Dream’s haunting music and Peter Sis’s delicate drawings.

Blog 4 Pros

Kathleen Turner’s narration is extremely brilliant as she uses a somewhat menacing voice foreshadowing Rumpelstiltskin’s ulterior motives. Also, Turner does an excellent job at being brilliantly scary towards the end of the story when Rumpelstiltskin meets his demise. Tangerine Dream’s haunting music provided the perfect mysterious atmosphere to the appearance of the little man to enacting Rumpelstiltskin’s frightening dance number when the queen searches for him. Peter Sis’s drawings are delicate yet haunting, especially of the image of Rumpelstiltskin pulling off his mask, revealing a skeleton face.

Blog 5 Cons

Parents should know that younger viewers may be frightened by the theme of Rumpelstiltskin trying to take the child away from the queen. Since, many children are getting kidnapped in the world today; many young viewers may worry about being kidnapped by a little man. Also, since Rumpelstiltskin’s reasons for wanting the child is made unclear, children may fear that Rumpelstiltskin may hurt the baby boy.

Blog 6 Overall
“Rumpelstiltskin” is another Rabbit Ears story that is mysterious and haunting, just like “The Fisherman and his Wife,” and is full of engaging music and images that create a wondrous world full of mystery and enchantment. This is a great film for the whole family watch, but parents must warn their children about the theme of child-kidnapping before letting them watch this video.

5 stars

Also reviewed on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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

Finn McCoul by Brian Gleeson


Finn McCoul Book Cover

Blog 2 Info

Genre: Ireland / Giants / Folktale / Humor / Family

Year Published: 1991

Year Read: 2009

Publisher: Rabbit Ears Books

Series: We All Have Tales

Blog 1 Introduction logo

“Finn McCoul” is an Irish folktale from the creative company Rabbit Ears Productions and is about how Finn McCoul must face his nemesis Cuculin and only his wife, Una, knows how to handle the giant brute. “Finn McCoul” is a great tale about true cunning that many children will enjoy for many years.

Blog 3 Summary

When Finn McCoul was born, he was no bigger than a fire-breathing dragon, which was too small for a giant. King Coul, Finn’s father, was so displeased at the size of his son that he throws Finn over the castle wall and into the water. Luckily, King Coul’s mother sees Finn in the water and she saves him from drowning and she decides to raise the boy herself in the woods. Many years later, Finn grows up into a man and he decided to leave his grandmother to become a great hero. Eventually, Finn finds a giant woman named Una who was extremely beautiful and they got married and lived on top of a mountain in a castle.

However, the reason why Finn made his home on top of the mountain was because it was the only way to avoid Cuculin. Cuculin was a fearsome giant who once flatten a thunderbolt into a pancake and he would always show it to his foes to remind them of the beating they are about to receive from him. Cuculin tried to find Finn McCoul, but Finn would always run away from him before battle. One day, Finn was helping his friends build the causeway from Ireland to Scotland when he started gnawing on his thumb. Whenever Finn starts gnawing on his thumb, he immediately sees the future and he found out that Cuculin was coming after him and he decided to go straight home to Una. When Finn got home, he told Una about Cuculin and she tells Finn that she needs time to think about how to deal with Cuculin.

What is Una’s plan and can Finn defeat Cuculin?

Watch the rest of this video to find out!

Blog 4 Pros

Catherine O’Hara does a splendid job narrating this story especially as she uses an Irish accent so effectively to narrate this heroic Irish tale. Boys of the Lough’s music is beautiful and truly captures the true spirit of Irish music as the tunes are cheerful and old fashioned. Peter deSeve’s illustrations are beautiful and hilarious at the same time, especially during the scenes of Cuculin lifting up Finn’s house to make the wind move away from the house as he was instructed by Una to do so.

Blog 6 Overall

“Finn McCoul” is a wonderful tale from Ireland about how it is wise to be cunning whenever a bully threatens you and it will be an instant classic for children who love comedy and folktales. I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since there are some Irish names that might be too hard for smaller children to pronounce such as “Cuculin” and “Una.”

5 stars

Also reviewed at: Rabbit Ears Book Blog