Category Archives: reviews

Peachboy by Eric Metaxas


Peachboy (1991)Blog 2 Info

Genre: Japan / Monsters / Fantasy / Folktale

Year Published: 1991

Year Read: 2008

Publisher: Rabbit Ears Books

Series: We All Have Tales

Blog 1 Introduction logo

“Peachboy” is one of the classics from Rabbit Ears’ “We All Have Tales” series and is probably the most dramatic and heartwarming story out of the whole series since “East of the Sun West of the Moon.” With Sigourney Weaver’s tender narration, along with Ryuichi Sakamoto’s mesmerizing music and Jeffrey Smith’s beautiful illustrations, “Peachboy” is an instant classic that cannot be beat!

Blog 4 Pros

Sigourney Weaver’s narration is so tender and soothing that she helps reinforce the intensity of this story, especially during the scenes of the emotional loss for the parents who lost their children to the ogres. Ryuichi Sakamoto’s music brilliantly captures the Japanese influence of the story making this story dramatic. Jeffrey Smith’s illustrations are beautiful as they brilliantly capture the essence of the Japanese characters. The image that probably stood out the most would be the image of Momotaro himself as he has a small and distinguished looking mustache and wears a traditional green Japanese outfit with a red belt that makes him look more heroic.

Blog 5 Cons

Parents should know that the scene with the ogres might be a little scary to younger children. The ogres are drawn so realistically that smaller children will definitely be frightened and what will frighten children even more is the fact that these ogres had kidnapped many of the village’s children when they were young. This part of the story might scare young children as they will probably think that the ogres will kidnapped them at the middle of the night and parents should explain to their children that this is merely a fairy tale and that most of the creatures in this book (except the dog, pheasant and ape) are imaginary.

Blog 6 Overall

“Peachboy” is a fantastic tale from Japan about the true power of friendship and courage and children will easily watch this video over and over again. I would recommend this video to children ages five and up since the scenes with the ogres might be too scary for smaller children.

5 stars

Also reviewed at: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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Puss in Boots by Eric Metaxas


 

Puss in Boots Book Cover

Blog 2 Info

Genre:  France / Fairy Tale / Animals
Year Published: 1991
Year Read:  2009

Publisher:   Rabbit Ears Books

Series: We All Have Tales

Blog 1 Introduction logo“Puss in Boots” is another classic story from Rabbit Ears Productions about how a clever feline tries to make his master a prince in order to save his own life.  With Tracey Ullman’s hilarious narration, Jean Luc Ponty’s elegant music and Pierre Le-Tan’s beautiful illustrations, “Puss in Boots” will be an instant treat for children both young and old.

Blog 4 Pros

Tracey Ullman’s narration is hilarious and creative at the same time as she narrates this story with such energy.  Tracey Ullman effectively uses both a proper tone and a French accent to narrate this story as she narrates the story in a proper tone and she uses a French accent when she is voicing the characters.  One of my most favorite scenes in this video was when Puss in Boots was pretending to be dead and a rabbit approaches him and says:

“Oh!  Looks like that there kitty is dead!  I guess I’ll just help myself to some of that there lettuce he’s got in his bag.  Uh-huh! Yep!”

Jean Luc Ponty’s music is extremely elegant and modern at the same time as he uses an electronic keyboard to capture the modern day feel to the story while at the same time, he brings an elegant sound to the score to emphasize the fairy tale element feel to the story.  Pierre Le-Tan’s illustrations are beautiful as the images are extremely colorful and the characters in the story also look a bit hilarious since their heads are all the same oval shape, even Puss in Boots has the same shaped head as the human characters do.

Blog 5 ConsParents should know that the narration in this story might be a bit too hard to follow, especially when Tracey Ullman uses a French accent in voicing the characters and she tends to jumble her words a bit when she is speaking in a French accent.  Also, there is some advanced vocabulary in this video that younger children might not understand very well and parents should try to go over the words with their child so that way they would not be very confuse with the words.

Blog 6 Overall“Puss in Boots” is a hilarious and wonderful classic from Rabbit Ears that will have children rolling around laughing for a long time.  I would recommend this book to children ages six and up since there is some vocabulary that smaller children might have a hard time understanding and because the narration might be a bit too hard to understand since Tracey Ullman is barely understandable when she is speaking in a French accent

5 stars

Also reviewed at: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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

A Gingerbread Christmas by Tim Raglin and Eric Metaxas


 

A Gingerbread Christmas (1991)

 

Blog 2 Info

Genre:  Christmas / Food / Fantasy / Family
Year Published: 1991
Year Read:  2009

Publisher: Rabbit Ears Books

Blog 1 Introduction logo

“A Gingerbread Christmas” is one of the holiday classics featured in the Rabbit Ears collection and is about how two living gingerbreads, both of royalty, try to save Christmas in Gloomsburg after the Mayor cancels it. Susan Saint James’ energetic narration along with Van Dyke Parks’ charming music and John Spiers’ illustrations, “A Gingerbread Christmas” is one holiday classic that will never be forgotten.

Blog 4 Pros

Susan Saint James’ narration is both energetic and creative at the same time as she uses a New York accent for Hank and possibly an Italian accent for Ginger and Spice, which brings charm to her narration and the story. Van Dyke Parks’ music is charming and beautiful as it sounds like something you would normally hear in many Christmas specials on TV. Van Dyke Parks uses an acoustic keyboard to make the music sound dramatic and cute, which is perfect for the story. John Spiers’ illustrations are cute and creative, especially of the image of the Prince and Princess of Gingerbread, as they look stout and cheerful. Even though the colors are a bit washed out, they still give a comfortable feel to the story.

A Gingerbread Christmas

Blog 6 Overall

“A Gingerbread Christmas” is a cute holiday classic about the importance of celebrating the true meaning of Christmas and also getting into the Christmas spirit, no matter how busy one may be. I would recommend this book to children ages four and up since there is nothing inappropriate in this story.

 

5 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

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


Blog 2 InfoGenre: Tall Tale / Fairy Tale / France / Humor / Animals

Year Published: 2007

Year Read: 2011

Series: Rabbit Ears Treasury: Storybook Classics #1

Publisher: Listening Library (Audio)

Blog 1 Introduction logo

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!

Blog 3 SummaryI 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: RobinWilliams
Music by: Ry Cooder

Pecos Bill

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

Puss in Boots

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!

Blog 4 Pros
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.

Blog 5 Cons

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.

Blog 6 Overall

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!

5 stars

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

 

John Henry by Brad Kessler


John Henry (1992)

Blog 2 Info

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

Year Published: 1992

Year Read: 1992

Series: American Heroes and Legends

Publisher: Rabbit Ears Books

Blog 1 Introduction logo

“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.

Blog 4 Pros
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

Blog 6 Overall
“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.

Blog 7 Awards

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https://i0.wp.com/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 Parents’ Choice Gold Award (video)

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https://i0.wp.com/etc-mysitemyway.s3.amazonaws.com/icons/legacy-previews/icons/blue-chrome-rain-icons-symbols-shapes/017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond.png1994 Parents’ Choice Gold Award (audio)

https://i0.wp.com/etc-mysitemyway.s3.amazonaws.com/icons/legacy-previews/icons/blue-chrome-rain-icons-symbols-shapes/017784-blue-chrome-rain-icon-symbols-shapes-shapes-diamond.png1995 Grammy Award Nomination – Best Spoken Word Album for Children

 

5 stars

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog