Wednesday, March 14, 2018

796 (2018 #19). Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales

I purchased this audiobook for my university library's collection because it won Audie Awards in 2010 for Audiobook of the Year and for Multi-Voiced Performance.  I've grown to really like multi-voiced audiobooks, so I figured this audiobook would be a winner all the way around, especially since I was looking for something short before starting a longer book for an upcoming day with six hours of driving.

Unfortunately, I was somewhat disappointed in this book - mostly because of irritations in the audio quality.  The 22 folktales are read by various celebrities, and some readers are better than others.  A number of them have a very annoying quirk of letting their voices drop to a whisper in some parts and boom out in others, which doesn't always work well in an automobile when road noise competes.  I had the same issue with the musical interludes - while the songs are great for providing a taste of the different musical styles in Africa, some are played at ear-bursting volume. It's also difficult, with the package design, to read the names of some of the narrators and titles of some of the stories, because the listings are in small print and are placed BEHIND the plastic holders for the relevant CDs.

There is a PDF available on the third disc which has a map indicating where each tale originated.  There's also a brief description of each tale and its background, along with an illustration, followed by a section on the authors (which in the case of the traditional literature tales, would be retellers).  The PDF also has the website for the audiobook, which includes extensive biographies of each of the celebrity narrators, as well as some comprehension quizzes, discussion questions, and coloring pages that can be downloaded (since this is supposedly an audiobook for children, although I think it's more appropriate for older children and adults).  A second PDF has track listings, song lyrics (five of the interlude songs are played in full on the last CD), and a helpful glossary, while a third PDF has complete track information.

I was surprised to learn that five additional tales (which apparently are in the print version of this book) are available for download by separate purchase.  At $2.27 each at Audible, I passed.

My gripes aside -  there are some very good stories in this audiobook, and most of the celebrities read them with good emoting.  My favorite was "King Lion's Gifts," a pourquoi tale that explains why certain animals look or sound the way they do.  Never heard of the reader of this tale - Ricardo Chavira - but he was quite good, especially at expressing Lion's aggravation with the other animals.  There are also fables, myths, African versions of classic folktales, literary fairy tales, and a number of trickster stories on the three discs.

The celebrity narrators all donated their time, and the audiobook publisher (Hachette Audio) donated all its profits from its sales to ANSA (Artists for a New South Africa), which in turn donated 20% to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.  So, definitely worth a listen.

© Amanda Pape - 2018

[This audiobook was borrowed from and returned to my university library.]

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