Celebrating the Timeless Art of Spinning Tales


If you want a family break from TV and movies, get comfy, close your eyes and let these master storytellers stir the imagination:

Rainbow Tales and Rainbow Tales 2. Rounder Records. Each: 74 minutes. CD: $15; cassette: $9.50. Ages 6 to adult. (800) 443-4727. “Long ago when the world was new . . .,” “Listen my children . . .,” “Once upon a time. . . .”

The art of tale-spinning is celebrated on these two collections of myths, magic and historical and everyday slice-of-life stories for listeners of all ages. Humorous and evocative, drawn from a variety of cultural traditions, the tales are told by a host of world-class storytellers, among them Garrison Keillor, Jay O’Callahan, Donald Davis, Jackie Torrence, Carmen Agra Deedy and Kentucky’s Roadside Theatre.

Among “Rainbow Tales’ ” 14 selections are J.J. Reneaux’s wry reminiscence of a Cajun childhood, O’Callahan’s rich transformation of Super Bowl Sunday into a little girl’s “Super Sundae” adventure and Len Cabral’s “Nho Lobo,” a comic trickster tale from the Cape Verdean Islands.


“Rainbow Tales 2,” serving up another 14 stories, includes vintage Keillor in “Meeting Donny Hart at the Bus Stop,” Ramona King’s delightfully West Indies-flavored “Leopard’s Birthday Bop” and Jay Silverheels’ dramatic telling of “Coyote and the Frost Giant.”

The Classic Pooh Treasury, Volume 3. Kid-Tel. 3 1/4 hours. Boxed set, three audiocassettes, 3 hardcover books: $20. (800) 328-6640. If you’re already familiar with British actor Peter Dennis’ remarkable gift for bringing A.A. Milne’s creations to life or if you’re a Milne fan who has yet to discover that pleasure, this latest addition to the “Classic Pooh” series--the 10 unabridged stories from “The House at Pooh Corner"--is a must.

On stage and on recordings, Dennis, with the blessings of the Milne estate, has made Milne’s world something of a life’s work and his intelligent and whimsical readings, meant for adults and children alike, are captivating.

When We Were Very Young. Kid-Tel. 1 hour. Audiocassette and sticker book: $8. (800) 328-6640. Dennis performs 20 of Milne’s unabridged poems, including “If I Were King,” “Halfway Down (the Stairs),” “Teddy Bear” and “Buckingham Palace.” Another keeper.