Archive for the ‘Audio’ Category

Rilla meets the Raisins

June 6, 2011 @ 7:59 pm | Filed under: Audio

Last night Scott and I stood in the hall, listening to the belly laughs coming from inside the bedroom shared by Rose, Beanie, and Rilla. They were listening to our Jay O’Callahan story CD, evidently for the first time in a long while, because it seemed the tales were all new to Rilla. Her peals of laughter enchanted us; we couldn’t tear ourselves away. Later, I tweeted about it and I was going to include a link to my O’Callahan post—I knew I’d written one years ago—as a frame of reference.

That post is actually as much about the wonderful Jim Weiss, whom we adore, as it is about Jay O’Callahan. Here’s the O’Callahan part:

I first encountered his work the summer before my sophomore year in college, when I was a camp counselor at a theater camp in Missoula, Montana. One of the girls brought a story tape with her and I remember the girls—this was the high-school bunk, not the younger set I was in charge of—laughing their heads off over a story about two children who encounter the King of the Raisins in a strange underworld. Half-remembered phrases from the story were still haunting me almost twenty years later when I began this blog. I posted a plea with a vague description of the story—

The raisins are amiable enough despite their aversion to the strange wiggling things at the end of the children’s arms—

“What you got there, worms?”

“No, they’re fingers! See?”

(Sound of raisins screaming.) “Ahhhh! Horrible, horrible! But I like you anyway.”

And a short while later, the marvelous Lesley Austin of Small Meadow Press chimed in with the answer I’d been seeking so many years: the storyteller we were looking for was named Jay O’Callahan. I Googled accordingly, and there he was. The Raisins story is on his Little Heroes CD. To this day it remains a family favorite. Sing it with me: Raisins, raisins, all we are is raisins; big one, small ones, short ones, tall ones…

And now the wheel’s gone round again and it’s Rilla’s turn to be swept away by O’Callahan whimsy. (She’s already a big Jim Weiss fan.) As for me, the story tape I want to listen to is a recording of those belly laughs from last night.

From the In-Box: Best Jim Weiss CDs for Young Children

September 27, 2008 @ 4:32 pm | Filed under: Audio

A sweet reader named Jennifer writes:

I wanted to ask if you had any recommendations for the best Jim Weiss story CDs for littler ones (and/or O’Callahan—you’ve mentioned him a couple times I think?). We checked out Weiss’s Just So Stories from our library, and my oldest is loving it (as am I!), but many of the others look like they might be a bit past her comprehension right now, and certainly past her younger sisters’. Their attention for this one is spotty. We’ll be driving 10 hours next month to my best friends’ weddings, and I’d like some story CDs for the car. I’m just not sure what would best hold my girls’ attention! As I said, my oldest is 4.5, then my twins are 3, and the baby is nearly 18 months, but of course she wouldn’t really be listening anyway.

Unfortunately, Jennifer wrote me in July, so I’m responding way too late to be of help with that road trip. Sorry about that, Jennifer—I hope the weddings were fun and the drive went well!

As Jennifer had observed in my archives, we are huuuuge Jim Weiss fans here in the Bonny Glen. We even got to hang out with Jim and his wonderful wife Randi a couple of times at homeschooling conventions and once at their home in Virginia. But we were fans long before we met the Weisses in person: I remember buying our first Jim Weiss story CDs back in New York, when Jane was a wee thing. The night we had dinner at their house, my girls were utterly starstruck because Jim was a superstar in their universe. Listening to them chatter in the backseat all the way home, I was overcome with a fit of giggles—they sounded just like my high-school friend Caryn and I must have sounded when we used to gush about Duran Duran.

(If I’d been invited to dinner at John Taylor’s house in 1985, I might not have survived to tell the tale.)

Anyway. The best Jim Weiss for very small children would be, I’d say:

Uncle Wiggly

Tell Me a Story (that one’s a folk and fairy tale collection—includes stories like The Little Red Hen and Rumplestiltskin)

• the one with The Twelve Dancing Princesses, what’s it called?  :::::hollers to children:::: Ah, yes: Best Loved Stories in Song and Dance

• and the Stone Soup one, um, Fairytale Favorites, I think is the name.
I can think of others (my girls loved the Shakespeare CD from the time they were tiny), but a list that goes on forever isn’t of much use to anyone, so I’ll stop with these.

We actually haven’t heard some of Jim’s most recent CDs, sob—that’s what we get for moving out of Virginia. Jim and Randi were kind enough to let my kids raid their shelves when we visited, and gracious enough to be pleased with a stack of my books in return.

As for Jay O’Callahan, whom Jennifer mentions in her email: we are mighty fond of him as well! Although we’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Jay in person. I first encountered his work the summer before my sophomore year in college, when I was a camp counselor at a theater camp in Missoula, Montana. One of the girls brought an O’Callahan story tape with her and I remember the girls—this was the high-school bunk, not the younger set I was in charge of—laughing their heads off over a story about two children who encounter the King of the Raisins in a strange underworld. Half-remembered phrases from the story were still haunting me almost twenty years later when I began this blog. I posted a plea with a vague description of the story—

The raisins are amiable enough despite their aversion to the strange wiggling things at the end of the children’s arms—

“What you got there, worms?”

“No, they’re fingers! See?”

(Sound of raisins screaming.) “Ahhhh! Horrible, horrible! But I like you anyway.”

And a short while later, the marvelous Lesley Austin of Small Meadow Press chimed in with the answer I’d been seeking so many years: the storyteller we were looking for was named Jay O’Callahan. I Googled accordingly, and there he was. The Raisins story is on his Little Heroes CD. To this day it remains a family favorite. Sing it with me: Raisins, raisins, all we are is raisins; big one, small ones, short ones, tall ones…

Feast Your Eyes and Ears

February 24, 2006 @ 3:45 am | Filed under: Art, Audio, Books, Clippings, Fun Learning Stuff, Poetry

A smorgasbord of links to share:

Hone your note-reading skills with this free online drill at MusicTheory.com. (Hat tip: MacBeth.)

Explore free art lessons at the Getty Museum (Hat tip: Tabatha Yeatts. Thanks for sending the link, Tabatha!)

Interested in Australia? Here’s a great list of picture books from Down Under!

The Headmistress treats us to several sites featuring free audio recordings of literature and children’s programming, including this terrific find: Librivox, at which site you may listen to a long list of unabridged classics including Pride and Prejudice, Pilgrim’s Progress, A Little Princess, Notes from the Underground, and Call of the Wild.

And speaking of audio, Farm School‘s Becky has the scoop on audio recordings of poetry.

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In Case You Missed This in May

December 14, 2005 @ 2:57 am | Filed under: Audio

A long while back I wrote about how extremely thrilled we were—thanks to the help of Lesley Austin—to reconnect with the work of a favorite storyteller, the great Jay O’Callahan. A fragment of his story, “Raisins,” had stuck in my head for some twenty years, and Lesley recognized it from Jay’s Little Heroes tape, which has been Beanie’s most frequent naptime request ever since I jubilantly ushered it into our home. If you’re still looking for a great gift for that little cousin, here you go…

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The Rabbit-Trailer’s Soundtrack

March 28, 2005 @ 9:16 pm | Filed under: Audio, Fun Learning Stuff, History, Music

Yesterday my kids pulled out a CD we used to listen to all the time: the soundtrack to Snoopy: The Musical. This was a play I loved as a teenager, when it was performed by some friends at a different high school. I had a crackly tape recording of a dress rehearsal which my sisters and I listened to ad nauseum. We had, after all, outgrown the soundtrack to Annie by then, and I had yet to discover the melodramatic satisfaction that is Les Miz.

So when Jane was five or six and I, for no particular reason, found myself humming one of the dear old Snoopy songs, I hunted around online and found a recording. Ah, the bliss of Google! My tiny girls loved the album, as I knew they would. A singing dog! A boy named Linus! A squeaky-voiced Sally belting out tongue-twisters!

Later, as the girls grew, they connected to Snoopy on different terms. One of our favorite songs on the album, “Clouds,” is like a theme song for homeschoolers. Charlie Brown and the gang are lying around looking at the sky, and someone asks Charlie Brown what he sees in the clouds.

“I see a—” he begins, but Sally cuts him off to sing that she sees: “A mermaid riding on a unicorn.” Peppermint Patty sees “an angel blowing on a big long horn.” Linus, ever my favorite, is a visionary. “I see Goliath, half a mile tall, waving at me….what do you see?”

Poor Charlie Brown. How can he get an answer in edgewise? Lucy sees a team of fifty milk-white horses; Patty sees a dinosaur; Linus sees Prometheus, waving; Snoopy, grandiose as always, sees the Civil War. The entire Civil War.

You could spend a year rabbit-trailing your way through this song. The Peanuts gang know their history, I’ll give ‘em that. (Although they seem to hit a bit of a roadblock when it comes to a certain American poet/storyteller, as evinced by their poor classroom performance in the hilarous song “Edgar Allen Poe,” elsewhere on the album.) When these kids gaze at the clouds, they see Caesar crossing the Rubicon, the Fall of Rome, and even all twelve apostles, waving at Linus.

Linus: “The Pyramid of Khufu!”

Sally: “You too?”

All but Charlie Brown: “Seven Wonders of the World…”

For our family, this is a song of reciprocal delights. Some of these cloud-tableaux are historical events the girls already knew about, and the idea of Snoopy beholding an entire war sculpted in cumulus is irresistibly funny. Some events are things my kids first encountered in the song. When, years later, we read about the Rubicon in A Child’s History of the World, there were gasps of delighted recognition from everyone including the then-two-year-old. Click, another connection is made.

So I was happy to hear the Peanuts gang belting away once more yesterday afternoon. It has been a couple of years since last they regaled us with their splendid visions. The girls have encountered more of the world, more of the past, and so they have more to connect with in the lyrics of Charlie Brown’s imaginative friends.

As for Charles, alas. The gang, having at long last exhausted the gamut of grand happenings to see in the heavens, demand of Charlie, “Well, what do you see?”

Says Charlie, glumly (and you probably remember the punchline from the Sunday funnies when you were a kid): “I was going to say a horsie and a ducky, but I changed my mind.”

(Cue hysterical laughter from little girls. Every. Single. Time.)

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The Temper of the Shrew

February 12, 2005 @ 12:01 pm | Filed under: Audio, Books, Fun Learning Stuff, Shakespeare, These People Crack Me Up

In the car today, Beanie launches into a story about “Bonny Kate.” She says it fast, one word: “Bonnykate.” It takes me a minute to figure out what she’s talking about; until she mentions Bianca, I am flummoxed.

“Bianca is the most beautiful,” she tells me. “Bonnykate gets mad. That’s why it’s called ‘The Temper of the Shrew.’ ”

Aha. Suddenly I understand. My four-year-old is narrating Shakespeare. Okay, she’s a little off on the title, but as her tale continues it is clear that she has a firm grasp of the plot. Thank you, Jim Weiss. His CD of stories from Shakespeare has been a favorite of the girls since before Beanie was born. This got me thinking about how many threads Jim’s fabulous storytelling CDs have woven into the tapestry of our life.

We discovered him in the Chinaberry catalog when Jane was a toddler, and many years (and many hours of enchanted listening) later, Scott and I had the great pleasure of meeting Jim and his wife Randy in person at a homeschooling conference. When we introduced the children to Jim, they were dazzled: he is a big star in their universe. It was Jim’s fluid voice that introduced them to Paul Bunyan, Scheherazade, Rip van Winkle, Theseus, Puck, and Percival. Much as I would like to take credit for the many literary allusions peppering my children’s talk, I have to admit that the plum goes to Jim and Randy Weiss.

I can always tell when the girls are listening to Jim’s retelling of the Archimedes story: it’s when a burst of laughter explodes into the post-bedtime hush of their room. Beanie will narrate that tale with gusto to anyone who’ll listen—after all, what small child can’t relate to a person so excited about an idea that he runs naked through the streets to share it?

Jim’s Sherlock Holmes stories inspired Jane, at age eight, to tackle the Arthur Conan Doyle originals. Rose requests The Jungle Book over and over again. All of them, at one time or another, have chattered away to me about the doings of Titania and Oberon and their crowd of fairy attendants…I recall a time when I was under orders to address Rose as “Peaseblossom,” thank you very much.

I’m pulling into the driveway, and Beanie is still going on about “Bonnykate-whose-weal-name-is-Katewina” and her hot temper. “When I’m a mommy I will name my daughter Bianca,” says Bean thoughtfully. “But I like Katewina best because she gets mad. That’s why it’s called the Temper of the Shrew. Oh, wait. Mommy, what does ‘taming’ mean?”

And another great discussion is launched. Thanks, Jim and Randy.

This Tickled My Funny Bone

February 3, 2005 @ 2:47 pm | Filed under: Audio, Fun Learning Stuff, History, These People Crack Me Up

Rose, who is obsessed with Ancient Greece these days, was sitting at the kitchen table when she heard Scott’s footsteps on the stairs.

“Listen!” she announced in a stage whisper. “Here comes the mighty Zeus!”

Speaking of Ancient Greece, here’s a website the girls have been enjoying. Thanks to the creative folks at Snaith Primary, we are following the adventures of two families, one in Athens, one in Sparta, during a war between the city-states in 430 B.C.

 

And of course no visit to Ancient Greece would be complete without some Jim Weiss stories on CD. Rose’s favorite tale is “Atalanta and the Golden Apples,” while Beanie is partial to the story of Hercules.