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The Tortoise and the Hare Review by Whitney Dunahee

Composed and conducted by Stephen Simon
Maestro Classics
PO Box 688
Falmouth, MA 02541

The Tortoise and the Hare from Maestro Classics is an audio CD featuring the classic tale re-created for narrator and orchestra. The set includes a CD with the main story plus bonus educational tracks and a 24-page program booklet. This is one of seven products in the Stories in Music series.

With a story adaptation by Bonnie Simon Ward, music by Stephen Simon, and beautiful recordings by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, this CD delivers a superb listening experience that is entertaining and enriching. With a running time of nearly 54 minutes, the CD is packed with goodies.

The first track is the familiar story of The Tortoise and the Hare. Narrated by Yadu, the story is set to fantastic music performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. My preschool and second-grade daughters were fascinated. The bonus tracks reveal behind-the-scenes information. We learned that the composer chose to use the deep voice of the contrabassoon to represent the lumbering tortoise. An irregular rhythm was used to simulate the uneven gait of the rabbit's two long and two short legs. Bonnie Ward Simon gives the listener background information on the history of the classic fable.

Also included are two tracks of the "Pretzel Vendor of Paris" song, which was composed by Stephen Simon for this story. One track includes vocals, while the other is accompaniment only. The included booklet has illustrations of orchestra instruments, information on tortoises and hares, a crossword puzzle, dot-to-dot, and more. It is a mini unit study!

Preschool and elementary-age children will benefit the most from The Tortoise and the Hare. However, everyone in the family can enjoy the beautiful music and entertaining tale. This product is a gem! I recommend it as a wonderful way to introduce music appreciation to your children.

Product review by Whitney Dunahee, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2010