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Individual Cassettes

boris.jpg (14508 bytes)To hear a fable read by Boris Karloff, go to Internet Archives and listen.

1967 Aesop's Fables. Read by Boris Karloff. Directed by Howard Sackler. NY: Caedmon. $5 at the Puzzle Box, Dec., '86. One extra copy.

Twenty-one fables on each side. Karloff's reading is sensitive but surprisingly low-keyed. The texts, whose author I cannot identify, seem classic, pithy, well expressed. This tape is clearer than the 78 rpm record of the same production.


1983 Aesop's Fables. Made for use with Ten Best-Loved Aesop's Fables and My Big FunThinker Book of Fun with Fables. Speaker not acknowledged. Made in Hong Kong. FunThinkers. Compton, CA: Educational Insights. Gift of Kathryn Thomas.

Excellent voices. Clever interviews and discussions before and after the ten fables. Very well integrated with the print material. Artistically alert; for example, finger-snapping music introduces the story in which the fox's tail gets snapped off. The fox has a French accent with crow but a British accent when he loses his tail. The crow comes back and pecks at the fox after the story of the lost cheese. The tortoise is slow in speech, too. Ms. Hare says "Watch me next time!"

1984 The Best of Aesop & Other Classic Fables. Marshall Cavendish Ltd. London: Barge Studios. For use with book (1985) of same title.

Great readers, great sound effects. This tape follows the booklet verbatim. The only drawback for use in a presentation lies in the readers' British accents.

1984 The Kingdom Lost and Found. A fable for everyone. Read by Jack Carney. 28 minutes. ©Mary Terese Donze, ASC. Privately produced. Gift of the author, Jan., '01.

Prince Leaf of Filc in Norway in an emotion-laden tale seeks, in peril of his life, the person who can make unbreakable bubbles. He finds the woodcutter/magician who can do it. King Olaf, sullen since he lost Queen Ingebord, tries to break them and soon becomes obsessed with them as they double in number every day. They smash, heat, and bury them--to no avail. When Leaf revisits the woodcutter to ask him to stop the bubble menace, the woodcutter first tempts him with the chance to settle elsewhere as a prince. When Leaf insists on helping his father, the woodcutter gives him the solution. Saying "I love you" sincerely breaks the bubbles and rekindles humane feelings in the kingdom.

1984? Aesop's Fables. Dramatized on cassette with actors, music and sound effects. Waldentapes: Stanford, CT.

Thirty minutes of well done stories. Good varied sound effects. Well read. Maybe twenty stories. The translation seems to be that of Joseph Jacobs. I like these!

1984? City Mouse, Country Mouse And Two More Tales from Aesop. Clover Patch Collection. A Scholastic Classic. Providence, RI: Entertainment Software Corp.

LM. BC. Three-minute presentations not terribly well done. Apparently Jacobs' translation adapted. The voices of the mice seem to be fast-forwarded tapes. Nice music and good narrator.

1984? Cuentos Inolvidables #17. Grupo de Teatro "Los Campanilleros". Madrid: Discos Mercurio.

Delightful Spanish renditions of GA, TH, GGE (but with a hen) with music and fine voices. Picking up the Spanish on the first hop may not be easy!

1985 More Aesop Fables. Produced and adapted by John Hohmann. Designed by Janet Albrecht. Illustrations by Dominick Giustino. Storytelling by Carl Grapentine. NY: Beanstalk Productions. $3.99 at a toy store in Chicago, April, '88.

Second in a series following The Wisdom of Aesop. The same in effect.

1985 The Wisdom of Aesop. Produced and adapted by John Hohmann. Designed by Janet Albrecht. Illustrations by Dominick Giustino. Storytelling by Carl Grapentine. NY: Beanstalk Productions. $3.99 at a toy store in Chicago, April, '88.

Rather blasé by comparison with other tapes. Two voices, limited sound effects, especially of animals in the forest or barnyard. Not exceptionally well done.

1986 Aesop's Fables. Look Listen 'N Play audio and visual set. Playtime. Usborne Publishing. (Text of Carol Watson from Aesop's Fables and Animal Stories, 1982, unacknowledged.) For use with filmstrip. About 15 minutes. $.77 at Kay-Bee, Council Bluffs, March, '91. One extra.

Six fables of the ten in the printed version (TH, "The Crow and the Jug," AD, TMCM, LM, GA). Good voices and sound effects, satisfactory background music. Some small changes in the versions, including interchanging the sexes of the ant and the grasshopper. The two sides of the tape seem identical.

1986 Aesop's Fables. Read by Gordon Fairclough et al. For use with Collected Tales from Aesop's Fables. Manufactured in Taiwan. Gallery Books: Smith Publishers: Victoria House Publishing. Extra copy with Collected Tales from Aesop's Fables published by Joshua Morris Publishing for a combined price of $ 1.99 from Hope Gilmore, Jackson NJ , through eBay, August, '05.  

Fine collection. Good readers. Some use of unison voices. Piano, organ, drum, clattering dishes. Follows book verbatim. "The Raven and the Cheese" may be best for audio-visual use. I apparently found my first copy of the cassette independent of the book.  The second copy came pasted to the back of the Morris book.

1986 Tales from Aesop. Reader not acknowledged. Recorded to accompany booklet of the same name by J.P. Miller. NY: Random House. $4.95 with booklet at Children's Bookstore, Chicago, Sept., '91.

Two sides, one for listening and one for reading along; the difference seems to be page-turning signals in the latter. One good voice with nicely varied orchestral background, including the frog's explosion. The tape exactly reproduces the book's seven stories: TH, GGE, DS, BW, OF, MSA, and CP.

1986/87/88 One-Minute Bedtime Stories. "Shari Lewis tells her." Music composed and arranged by Stormy Sacks with Lan O'Kun. NY: Caedmon. $7.95 at Turtle Park Toys, DC, Dec., '92.

Uses all the stories of the 1982 Doubleday book (see comments there), often in abbreviated form. Adds one fable, GA, in which the grasshopper is eating his violin when the ants finally take him inside and feed him. Also adds: "Brer Fox," "Little Red Riding Hood," "The Princess and the Island," and "The Ugly Duckling." The brief time allowed each tale hurts the other stories, but the fables are well done.

1987 Aesop's Fables in Song. Ralph Martell. Hollywood, CA: Ralmar Enterprises. May, '91.

Ten delightful songs to accompany the book of the same name. Martell's voice is not as good as his music and lyrics. Nice variety of contemporary rhythms. Some sing-along possibilities.

1987 juliette et les fables de la fontaine vol 1. Hélčne Ray. Illustration de Karine Georgel. Paperbound. Paris: tire lire poche: magnard jeunesse: magnard. $5 from Seizethebid on ebay, Dec., '03.

Here a cassette-tape and a book go well together. Juliette describes experiences in school around learning four fables of La Fontaine. With good musical background, she offers explanations of various turns in each of these: MM, FC, "Le Laboureur et ses Enfants," and FG. Georgel's art work is both plentiful and good. There are full and partial-page line drawings and colored illustrations. The reading is excellent on the cassette; it is done by Martine Regnier. The packaging -- a plastic and paper box -- for both book and tape is all but destroyed. I will keep the tape and book together.

1987 Modern Fables. 44 minutes on one side. Read and prepared by Bernard Jackson and Susie Quintenella. 309-7. The Peoples Publishing Group, Inc. Unknown source.

There are regular references to pages to be read while one listens to the tape. I have tried a couple of the stories, and I find them good. They deal with humans--specifically children--rather than animals. They remain short enough to be good fables. In the first story on Side A, "The Little Guy," little Jimmy is only a football fan. Jimmy does a Heimlich maneuver on the choking Alfred, the football player, and so saves him. He thus repays a favor. "Size doesn't always count." "Such Good Friends" at the start of Side B is about a schoolboy thief Lee and his friend Eric. Of course only the latter is caught. "You will be judged by the friends you keep." The introduction makes the point that the morals used here are those Aesop used.

1987? El Ratón de Ciudad y el Ratón de Campo. Peralt Montagut Editions. Made in Spain by Gema, S.L. Gift of Vera Ruotolo, March, '03.

This fine rendition of TMCM lasts about four and a half minutes. It is distributed with a book of the same title done by Peralt Montagut Editions: Imajen. As I mention there, the guest is not just from the city but from the court. The country mouse offers better fare than in most versions. A dog, a cat, and servants menace. There are three voices here. The tape follows the book's text carefully.

1987?  Le Rat de ville, Le Rat des champs. Printed in Spain. Distributed with a 1987? book of the same title. Made in Spain by Gema, S.L. ©Peralt Montagut Editions. Together $9.95 at europa books, Chicago, March, '95.

The front cover of the cassette has "Camps" rather than "Champs." Good sound effects. The court mouse seems to be female, to judge from the voice, though the text and pictures present two males. About four minutes, the same on each side of the cassette. Note that I also have a German version, listed under 1988.

1988  Die Stadtmaus und die Feldmaus. Made in Spain. Distributed with the 1987? book of the same name. ©Peralt Montagut Verlag. Together $9.95 at europa books, Chicago, March, '95.

A good four-minute version, the same on both sides, featuring a musical introduction, sound effects, and various voices. A confusion arises for me when one of the readers changes the text's male to female (Freund to Freundin) during the reading. The mice are pictured as male, I believe, and the English treats them both as male. Here both mouse-voices sound female, and it seems that this reference makes the country-mouse into a female. Part of the problem is that German mice are female, as the title indicates.

1988 Five Famous Aesop's Fables. Adapted by Louis Untermeyer. Voices and Music by Marshall Izen. Directed by Jim Timmens. Produced by Arthur Shimkin. Previously released by Children's Records of America and Columbia Book & Record Library. A Benanty Entertainment Group, Inc., Product. NY: Children's Communications Corp. $4.50 in Oakland, Summer, '89. 11:35.

Includes FG, TH, MM, FC, and BW. The tape seems the same on both sides. One voice and music. Brief introduction at the beginning and brief moral at the end of each.

1988 [Korean]. (Aesop's Fables). For use with two volumes of Aesop's Fables published 1990 and 1989, respectively, by Mun Gong Sa in Seoul. Bibliographical information on cassette in Hangu. $2.10 on street near Eastgate in Seoul, June, '90.

Good orchestral music backs up spirited and varied reading in Korean, complete with good animal voices.

1989 Bedtime Stories: Fables. The Purple Balloon Players. New Rochelle, NY: Great American Audio Corp. $9.99 for a set of three tapes (including folktales and fantasy) at Kay-Bee, Dec., '93.

Good sound effects behind six stories so elaborated that they may no longer be fables. "Skywind" features the task of separating rice from sand. "Stone Soup" is, as always, a delight. "Kantchil and the Deep Hole" is about a very small deer in Indonesia. Kantchil falls into the deep hole and reads from a "magic" leaf that (1) the world ends today, (2) only those in the deep hole will be saved, and (3) anyone who sneezes must be thrown out of the hole. "How the Leopard Got Its Spots" is about a boy forgetting his magic yam and stealing it back from the animals. His mother and other clothes-dyeing women ward off the leopard with dye-covered sticks. "The Stone Cutter" wishes he were something stronger: the sun, a cloud... "The Little White Bone" finds the animals at the dawn of the world arguing over who should be the big chief. An old man produces the bone and asks which hand it is in. A little mouse wins the game and makes people the guardians of the earth our mother. There is "Go to Sleep" music at the beginning and end of each side.

1989 Frederick and His Friends. Leo Lionni. A Knopf Book and Cassette Classic. Music by Blane and DeRosa Productions. Tape manufactured in Singapore. NY: Dragonfly Books: Alfred A. Knopf. Part of a set of four books and a tape. $2 at Heartwood, Charlottesville, VA, April, '92.

Great stories well read: "Frederick," "Swimmy," "Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse," and "Fish is Fish." Nice musical accompaniment.

1990 Aesop's Fables the Smothers Brothers Way. Words and Music by John McCarthy. Arranged and Produced by David Carroll. Smothers Brothers. Redway, CA: Music For Little People #2178. (Reproduced from 1965 original.) Gift of Linda Schlafer, April, 1992.

Identical, except for the split between the two sides, with the CD done at the same time by the same people. Again, the cassette format makes these delightful renditions even more available for use in the classroom or lecture situation. The stereo sound-balancing seems uneven at points. Seven fables are surrounded by an overture and a reprise and are interspersed with five "I'd better stay me" interludes. See comment on the original record above.

1990 The Grasshopper and the Ants. For use with 1971/77 booklet of same name. Burbank, CA: Walt Disney Educational Media Company. Walt Disney Productions. $5.95 with booklet at Stephenson's, Omaha, May, '91.

The tape features a preview of the story that looks through the first half of the pictures and breaks off before the resolution of the story. Good voices.

1991 "The Mice's Thanksgiving." The Broadway Local Theater. American Radio Company. Garrison Keillor narrator. November, 1991. Recorded by Rev. Edward W. Bodnar, S.J. 10:15.

A great rendition of TMCM. The voices and vocal effects are excellent. Some great wit. An uptown express sewer carries the mice during TV commercials! The "Voice of Reason" and the "country mouse" are especially good characters. Keillor is a great narrator. "It's not the city but me, isn't it?" "You're the mousiest guy I ever knew." A trap gets Randy, and with a punishing pun Keillor has him buried in a mausoleum.

1991  The Tiger and the Brahmin. Written by Brian Gleeson. Told by Ben Kingsley. Music by Ravi Shankar. Boxed for use with an accompanying book of the same title published in 1992. Rowayton, CT: Rabbit Ears Productions. $20 by mail from Elaine Woodford, Haddonfield, NJ, Oct., '97.

A lively tape to go with a very lively book. Both the voice and the music are strong. Kingsley adopts various voices well, especially for the jackal. Both the book and the tape are very well done. See also the compact disk and poster from the same project.

1991 Three Musical Fables. With music by John Rutter. The King's Singers, City of London Sinfonia, The Cambridge Singers.  Omaha: Collegium Records. Unknown source.

The three stories are "The Reluctant Dragon" with words by David Grant based on a story by Kenneth Grahame, "Brother Heinrich's Christmas" with story and music by John Rutter, and "The Wind in the Willows" with words by David Grant based on the book by Kenneth Grahame. The album is directed especially to Christmas. "Fable" here means "fairy tale." It is a real pleasure to hear both the excellent singing and the clear articulation by singers and readers. The whole production is tasteful, from text to performance. For a special treat, do not miss the sound of Toad's car in the third fable. I also have this item on compact disk.

1992  Jataka Tales. By Noor Inayat Khan. Read by Ellen Burstyn. Musical accompaniment composed by Allaudin Mathieu. From the book Twenty Jataka Tales, published by Inner Traditions International (1991). Berkeley, CA: Audio Literature. $10.95 at Bookdale's, July, '94.

See my comments on the book. Two of the last three tales there are dropped--"The End of the World" and "The Golden Goose"--so that eighteen of its twenty are read here. Burstyn reads well, and the musical background is both good and nicely varied.

1992  The Children's Aesop. Selected Fables Retold by Stephanie Calmenson. Read by Dudley Moore. Hollywood, CA: Soundelux Audio Publishing. Boxed with a book, bought by mail from The Mind's Eye for a total of $19.95, Jan., '95.

Well done! This may be the finest audio tape I have. Excellent reading backed up by good sound effects and excellent music. See my comments on the 1992 book. Moore sometimes (wisely) cuts a bit of material from Calmenson's version. Very lively reading. Just under an hour long.

1992 The Friendly Snowflake. A Fable of Faith, Love and Family. Written and read by M. Scott Peck. NY: Caedmon: HarperCollins Publishers. Gift of Linda Schlafer, Christmas, '93.

Jenny meets a friendly little snowflake named Harry. Big questions: Was it just an accident that Harry fell on her nose? Are big snowflakes a family? She learns that Harry may well be back next year. The tape comes with a snowflake ornament.

1993  Jean de La Fontaine: Oh! les belles fables! Dit par Albert Millaire. Musique de Alexandre Stanké. Grand Auteurs/petits lecteurs. Stanké livre & cassette. Canada: Les éditions internationales Alain Stanké. Tape and booklet for $15.95 Canadian at Coles, Montreal, Oct., '95.

A very nice set. I find the tape's reading and sound-effects stronger than the book's illustrations. Each side of the cassette presents eight fables. The first side takes seventeen minutes, while the second takes somewhat more than eighteen minutes. See my listing also of the book and of a compact disk that seem to have come out together..

1993?  La Souris de la Ville et la Souris de la Compagne; The City Mouse and the Country Mouse. (Dorothy Sword Bishop.) The Bilingual Fables. Soundtext. Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Company. $12.95 by mail with the 1978/93 book from The Mind's Eye, Feb., '95.

I ordered this one combination to get an idea of the series. I had known the books but had happened to miss this French/English version; I had not known of the tapes. The English side (about six and a half minutes) is good, but the French (about six minutes) is just wonderful! Good voice differentiation by the one speaker for the various voices and effects.

1994  Aesop's Fables. Tell Tale Theater Pop-Up Book and Audiocassette. Six classic tales narrated by Carl Reiner. Music by Marc Phillips. Made in Singapore. 22 minutes. Produced by Designimation, Philadelphia. Phladelphia: Running Press. Gift of Elizabeth Willems, Christmas, '94. Extra copy a gift of Mary Pat Ryan, Aug., '95.

An ingenious set. See my comments on the book of the same title and year. The tape's renditions are much more expansive than those in this book. (In fact, they are adaptations--for all but SW--of versions from Zorn's Aesop's Fables from Running Press in 1990.) Reiner's reading is excellent! BW is expanded and now includes some hyperbole; the wolf now eats the boy in one gulp! The tortoise has become female, and TMCM's dog has become a cat.

1994 Averse to Beasts:Twenty-Three Reasonless Rhymes. Written, Illustrated, and Read by Nick Bantock. Hardbound. Printed in Hong Kong. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. $5 from Sebastopol Antique Mall, June, '99.

This book comes together with a tape, which presents the twenty-three poems well in a live performance (at "The Trough" no less!) with introductory comments and sound effects. Bantock is well known for the "Griffin & Sabine" series, and this book is worthy of him. There are perhaps four fables here. In "Bad Manners," a turkey vulture schooled to culture still eats the waiter along with the meal! "Harvest Mouse" is something of an answer to Beatrix Potter, but it only reinforces the old fable wisdom that a mouse out in a field will be eaten by a hawk. "The Warrior's Way" is a satire on contemporary yuppie samurai. This one uses a sword to defeat a warrior-fly but cuts off his own nose in the process! "Old School Ties" has fun with "allege" and "alligator" but in the process shows--as I understand it--that judges might follow old school loyalties rather than process or evidence. One item ("The Wolf at the Door") parodies WL in applying it to urban human wolves. The other pieces have fun with words (e.g., "Hitch" and "Aero Dynamics"), with shapes (e.g., "Appendages"), and with fantasies (e.g., "Rabbit's Revenge"). Each poem is done on a left-page with an illustration facing on the right-page. Among the best illustrations are "Bad Manners," "Thick Soup," "Carnivorous," "Appendages," "Preparing My Giraffe for a Formal Occasion," and especially "Harvest Mouse."

1994  The Animals Could Talk. Aesop's Fables Musically Retold by Heather Forest. Accompanies booklet of the same title. Running time: 42:11. Little Rock: August House Audio. $12.95 with booklet from The Story Monkey, April, '96.

Very pleasing music and storytelling. Let me quote the cassette jacket: "This modern collection of ancient fables is presented in a ministrel style of storytelling, weaving original poetry, prose, and melody together to bring old tales to life for new listeners." The last song/tale transforms BF into a fine story proclaiming "You're beautiful as you are."

1995? Aesop's Fables Tape. Produced by Chad and Terri Sagafus, QMS Productions, Douch, MO. 4504. Salem, UT: The Story Teller, Independent Story Teller Distributors. Part of a set for $17.95 including materials to create a felt book. Sonoma County Fair, Nov., '97.

I have sampled the first few fables. They are actually songs, and are well done. Good audio quality, and a nice lilt to songs. I think children would enjoy them. Eight and seven fables respectively on the two sides of the tape.

1996 Unusual Aesop's Fables. Witty Tales of Ancient Wisdom. Told by Elizabeth Gibson. Music & sound by Pete Butler. 54 minutes. Carmichael, CA: E.J.R. Gibson – Publishing. $14 from Alibris, Dec., '00. One extra copy.

I can see why this effort was winner of a "Best Audio Tape" award. To judge from the first fable, the tape brings lively narration, good guitar background, and effective alternate voices. There are eight fables, with engaging new titles: "The Kind Ant," "The Fashionable Fox," "Max and His Trusty Ax," "The Most Beautiful Bird," "The Courageous King," "The Neighbors," "Penelope and Henrietta," and "TootleLee and TootleLou."

1997 Il-Fenek u L-Fekruna u hrejjef ohra. Maltese version of The Story of the Hare and the Tortoise and other tales. Test ta' Annamarija Ciarlo? (Original by Peter Holeinone, NA?) Purchased in a set with a hardbound book by the same title. Heart Productions, in conjunction with Klabb Kotba Maltin. Maltese Liri 4.50 from Books Plus, Sliema, Malta, June, '02.

This tape includes eighty minutes worth of stories on its two sides. There is a T of C inside the box. Will this tape ever find a listener who can understand its Maltese?

 2000 Aesop's Fables. Read by Anton Lesser. 79 minutes. Naxos Audio Books. NA 120714. Junior Classics. Selected and produced by Nicolas Soames. Edited by Sara Butcher. I found a German seal on this tape, but have no idea where I obtained it!

"Classic Literature with Classical Music." Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" is the accompaniment here. There is a booklet with a T of C and black-and-white drawings by Arthur Rackham. There are good sound effects, but Lesser does well on his own, for example, as a wolf devouring a lamb.

 2001 Aesop's Fables. Editor: Yu-A Vision. Seoul, Korea: EntersKorea. 7000 Won from Kyobo Books, Seoul, July, '04. 

This tape accompanies Story Books Step 1: Aesop's Fables.  They sold together for 7000 Won. There are two stories: TMCM and GGE. The country meal in TMCM features, according to the text, "only potatoes and corns" (6). The city meal is interrupted by a woman with a broom, who is flanked by a cat. "The Hen that lays Golden Eggs" starts "There are old man and woman" (18). They pray "Please make this hen lays a golden egg only once!" I have never seen this prayer before as part of the story. After the two stories are told and illustrated, there is a bilingual script for TMCM, including wives for the two mice, two kids, and a landlady. For a book produced by "native speakers" there are far too many mistakes here, like "Vegetable are put on the table" and "with a disappointment" (34). The script is followed by a chant (44) and a song (45). Finally, after a bilingual presentation of the text of the two stories, there are words (49-endpaper) and stickers (inserted) for key vocabulary in the two stories. The tape begins with the song by the two mice. The tape then follows the texts of the two stories exactly as they appear on 6-17 and 18-29, respectively. The tape offers the words on 49 through the endpaper for listeners to repeat with the children's voices on the tape. Next, a reader reads through the stories, and listeners are invited to repeat it with the children's voices on the tape. Listening to these repetitions almost drove me crazy! The tape ends with the chant (44).