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Trapped in Aesop's Fables! (Audio Drama CD) Review by Karen Waide

LifeHouse Theater On-The-Air

We were given the opportunity to receive the audio drama CD titled Trapped in Aesop's Fables from LifeHouse Theater On-The-Air. This hour long adventure is an original adaptation by George Christison and Sarah Christison. It was perfect for listening to in the van on our varied journeys around our rural community. We love listening to audio dramas, and I was so glad that I was introduced to these new-to-us stories.

As our story begins, we meet Henry.  Henry is a rambunctious and impulsive young man who doesn't think twice about using his father's tools without permission, or leaving bent nails all over the driveway.  He is working on a homemade half pipe when we first meet him, and, despite his father's shouted warnings when he pulls into the driveway, attempting a stunt on his skateboard.

The stunt does not go well, and Henry gets a lecture about listening.  His dad doesn't stay mad after dishing out the appropriate punishment, and he asks Henry to help him carry in an old trunk that his aunt no longer has room for in her house because she tends to collect too many things.  The trunk is locked, and Henry has specific instructions to NOT pry open the lock and look inside.

The lock is quite rusty, however, and while Henry is pushing the trunk into a corner of the garage, it comes open on its own.  Henry, hoping to find treasure, looks inside.  After all, his father only told him not to pry the lock open.  He never said anything about looking inside.  Inside are lots of really old books, and a warning.

Henry doesn't heed the warning, and he gets sucked inside one of the books.  Inside he meets Aesop.  Aesop is the author of over 300 stories which we still recite today.  Aesop tells Henry that, in order to return home, He must learn 5 “Life Lessons” throughout the stories.  A reluctant Henry touches the book Aesop is holding and finds himself drawn into the first story, “The Ant and the Grasshopper.”

There are 5 different fables Henry will have to live through, stories where he actually becomes a character, living the tale and the lesson. In addition to “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” Henry will find himself a part of “The Tortoise and the Hare,” “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” “The Goose and the Golden Eggs,” and “The Milkmaid and Her Pail.”

At first he isn't quite sure how to go about learning these life lessons. In fact, things aren't looking so good for poor Henry as he lives the life of the irresponsible grasshopper. Of course, at first he was having a grand old time, especially after he learned that he could hop and fly. But, he didn't understand the important lesson the ant demonstrates, and almost dies in the cold of the winter. He came up with several different “lessons,” but none of them was the LIFE lesson that was the main idea behind the fable.

After failing his first try, Henry goes into the remaining stories better prepared, and learns to be more discerning. He becomes the hare, the boy who cries wolf, a gander, and the father of the milkmaid. In the first three stories, he is the main “character.” In the final two tales he learns the lesson from the perspective of a character not quite as central to the tale. Even though he failed in the first task, he succeeds in his ultimate goal as he learns two life lessons in one of the other stories. He is returned home, a much wiser and responsible young man, to his father's great surprise.

Our family really enjoyed this audio drama. It was fun discovering which characters Henry became in each story. But more importantly, this story was a fun way for children to learn these life lessons. Children will hear these fables from an inside point of view, and really get to know what is being taught.

According to the back of the CD case, this audio drama is “suitable for the young and young at heart.” All of our children were quiet and attentive while the CD was playing. Though I do think the lessons went over my 4 year old son's head, and possibly my 6 year old daughter's head as well. Our 8 and 9 year old daughters really seemed intrigued by the stories and seemed to understand what was being taught.

A warning, especially for parents with younger children, the story of “The Goose and the Golden Eggs” becomes quite intense and there is no softening up the fact that the goose is violently killed so the greedy farmer can try to get more golden eggs.

This is a great CD for teaching children some important life lessons. I actually wish this was made into a series, and more of Aesop's many fables could be explored. Especially because Henry was told, now that he had succeeded in his task, he was able to come into the book at any time without the fear of being trapped there.

Trapped in Aesop's Fables can be purchased for $19.99 from their website. Also available on the website is a down-loadable curriculum guide. This guide contains a brief history of the fable, questions about the story, answers to the questions, a theme verse, fun facts, and questions for further discussion.

- Product review by Karen Waide, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2017