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The Story Tree: Tales to Read Aloud (with CD) Review by Tammy Walker

Hugh Lupton
Barefoot Books
2067 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02140

My children, like most, love a good story. Daddy has instilled a curiosity in their hearts for the "what happens next" as he creates stories for them based on their specific interests. We often allow them to listen to books on CD before going to bed. Some are hits. Some are misses. An interesting storyteller usually determines the merit of the tale, not merely the words themselves. Hugh Lupton has a wonderfully engaging cadence that draws my little ones in--slow, careful, and deep voiced.

Mr. Lupton has pulled together playful tales from a variety of cultures and sources and has retold them in his own voice. Some he remembers from memory, some are taken from such notable sources as Grimm's Fairy Tales. Some will be very familiar, such as "The Little Red Hen," and "The Three Billy Goats Gruff." Others may be new to your young listeners.

"The Blue Coat" tells the tale of a poor and yet crafty mother who takes her son's beloved tattered blue coat and "reinvents" it several times until it is nothing but a blue button. This story has been very popular with British storytellers.

"The Magic Porridge Pot," taken from Grimm's Fairy Tales, reveals the chaos that can ensue when one has more than one actually needs. A generous young girl inherits a pot that can produce all the porridge she and her hungry mother want. When the girl leaves, her mother demands the pot to produce without understanding how to make it stop. Doesn't every child dream of swimming in her favorite food?

"Monkey-See, Monkey-Do" pulls from the cliché that a monkey is the quintessential follower. A hat peddler gets into a bit of mischief when a bunch of monkeys steal his hats. They copy everything he does, yet are unwilling to give him back his merchandise. Finally throwing his own hat down in protest, he is surprised to see the monkeys do the same, and he gets his hats back!

"The Sweetest Song" has a valuable lesson for little ones who are inclined to leave their parents' supervision. A little girl endangers herself by leaving the protection of her front yard. A wolf spots his chance for a tasty meal but is, fortunately, thwarted by the child's cunning. This story is found in a compilation of Black folktales.

The poor greedy rooster in "Little Lord Feather-Frock" (a Russian tale) is bound for danger. He just cannot control his urges and continually finds himself outwitted by Old Foxy. Rooster's loyal friends continue to rescue him until he gets himself in one pinch too many.

For families who enjoy tall tales, fairy tales, or just an enjoyable story, this collection will be a valuable resource. Instead of popping in a half-hour video, why not boost your little ones' imaginations with these artful stories on CD? The playful illustrations in the accompanying book will keep them engaged as well.

Product review by Tammy Walker, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2008