Two Trickster Tales from Russia, retold by Sophie Masson

‘How dare you steal my…’ the bear roared, then stopped, and sniffed the air. he snatched the porridge and gulped it all down. he licked the bowl and licked his lips. ‘Little girl,’ he growled, ‘you will stay and cook for me, or I will crack your skull like an egg!’
There was nothing Masha could do but stay.

When Masha is kept captive by a greedy, but not-too-smart bear, she has to bide her time until an opportunity arises for escape. On the other hand, when a beautiful, but easily fooled, rooster is preyed on by a cunning fox, he needs the help of his wilier friends to get him out of trouble.

Two Trickster Tales from Russia, as the title suggests, offers two retold folktales from Russia. With a lovely blend of traditional tale, well paced narrative and humour, coupled with a mix of colour and black and white illustrations, the book gives young readers a taste of stories from another time and culture.

Available in paperback format, Two Trickster Tales from Russia is the first title from new Australian publisher Christmas Press, and is also available in Audiobook format, with the reading complemented by music and sound effects which help to bring the tales to life.

A quality production Two Trickster Tales from Russia is delightful.


Two Trickster Tales final draft cover

Two Trickster Tales from Russia, by Sophie Masson, illustrated by David Allan
Christmas Press, 2013
ISBN 9780992283803

A Book for Kids, by CJ Dennis

First published in 1921, C. J. Dennis’ A Book for Kidswas dedicated to ‘good children over four and under eighty four’ and continues to offer much for children of all ages. This audiobook version, read by well known Aussie actor Colin Friels, brings the familiar stories and poems from this long-enjoyed book to life.

Including well known and loved verses such as Hist!, The Triantiwontigongolope and Our Cow as well as the familiar series of poems about various occupations including The Teacher, The Sailor and The Baker, kids and adults alike will laugh aloud, whether the poems are new to them or already familiar.

This would be a valuable addition to classroom collections, but will be equally enjoyed for private listening.

A Book for Kids, by C. J. Dennis, read by Colin Friels
ABC Audiobooks, 2006

Audiobook Review: Life's Like a Crocodile, by Rolf Heimann

What if a snail decided to seek a starring role on television – in a snail pellet advertisement? Or what if a cabbage managed to trick a rabbit into not eating it for dinner? This collection of stories by funny Australian author Rolf Heimann tells these tales and more, in a fun offering for children aged 7 to 10.

Read in this audiobook version by Anna Steen, the eighteen stories are each brief (the longest takes 7 minutes but most are less than 4), making them suitable for short listening spells of one story at a time, although they are just as appropriate for listening to in a longer sitting of several stories.

This would be a wonderful offering for the classroom, but will be enjoyed for private listening, too.

Life’s Like a Crocodile, by Rolf Heimann, read by Anna Steen
ABC Audio, 2006

You can buy this CD online at Fishpond.

Audiobook Review: Don't Pat the Wombat! by Elizabeth Honey

When grade six gets to go on a camp to a pioneering village, Mark and his mates are rapt. No school and no parents for a whole week. But, best of all, they get to escape from the teacher they call the Bomb, who has it in for Jonah, one of Mark’s mates. But when one of the teachers on camp falls ill, guess who they send as replacement? With the Bomb there, the whole camp could be ruined.

Don’t Pat the Wombat is a fun story which deals with serious issues of friendship, victimisation and adult alcoholism, but in author Elizabeth Honey’s hands, these serious issues are dealt with using humour and loads of interest, to engage readers without trivialising the issues.

This audio book version is read by Damon Herriman, whose reading brings the first person narration of Mark to life, and gives life to the character and his tale.

Good stuff.

Don’t Pat the Wombat!, text by Elizabeth Honey, reading by Damon Herriman
ABC Audio, 2006

Audio Book Review: The Rainbow Wand, by Emily Rodda

Jessie’s heart lurched. She remembered Tasha’s silver fairy wings. Her grandmother’s voice echoed in her mind.
‘There are Doors to the Realm all over the world, Jessie. But only people who believe in magic can find them.’
“Tasha found the Door!” Jessie heard herself saying. “She’s gone into the Realm!”

Jessie has always enjoyed her adventures in the Fairy Realm, travelling through the door at the bottom of her grandmother’s garden, but when another human child, four year old Tasha, accidentally enters the Realm, Jessie knows she could be in trouble. She must find Tasha and return her home before anything goes wrong.

Meanwhile, she must also stop her sticky beak next door neighbour, Mrs Tweedie, from finding out too much about the Realm. Has Mrs Tweedie sent Tasha in deliberately and what can Jessie do about it?

The Rainbow Wand is the fourth and final title in the second series of the Fairy Realm series. There are plenty of fairies and other magical creatures, as well as adventure and mystery. This audio book version is beautifully read by Lucy Bell. This is a story well suited to reading aloud and with a running time of just under two hours would suit a car trip or plane journey.


Fairy Realm: The Rainbow Wand, by Emily Rodda, read by Lucy Bell
ABC Audio, 2006

Audiobook Review: Clancy of the Overflow, read by Colin Friels

Banjo Paterson is one of Australia’s best loved and best known poets. His poems provide a rich portrait of rural life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. And there is no better way to enjoy these poems than to hear them read aloud.

On Clancy of the Overflow, well-known award-winning actor Colin Friels reads unabridged versions of 13 of Paterson’s finest poems – including the title poem, Clancy of the Overflow, The Man From Snow River and The Man From Ironbark. Friels’ voice and delivery are perfect for Paterson’s work, being strong and unashamedly Australian, yet clear and resonant.

This is fine listening for audiences of all ages, from ten to adult, and could be used for classroom situations as well as for private listening.


Clancy of the overflow And More Classic Favourites from Banjo Paterson, read by Colin Friels
ABC Audio, 2005

African Folk Tales, By Simon M'zungu

Some audiobooks are recording of books being read aloud. Others are performances in their own right. African Folk Tales, new from ABC Audio, is definitely a performance.

Written and told by Simon M’zungu, the four tales on the CD are retellings of traditional African folktales and are interspersed with traditional songs.

The stories on offer include The Wise Judgement of Gava the Jackal, How Kamba the Tortoise Cracked His Shell, Toga the Zebra Meets Mambo Shumba, the King Lion and Tsuro and Gudo Attend Each Other’s Parties. Each tale focusses on a different animal character and delivers a moral or lesson.

This CD would be an excellent tool for classroom use – especially for units on folktales, storytelling or cultural diversity. It also makes entertaining private listening.

African Folktales, written and told by Simon M’zungu
ABC Audio, 2004

Audiobook Review: The Farmyard Box

Children love animal stories and this new four CD offering from ABC Audio features plenty of animal tales, perfect for young listeners aged 4 to 8.

The Farmyard Box contains three separate titles. Pigs ‘a Plenty features 40 minutes of stories and rhymes about – you guessed it – pigs, including traditional tales and rhymes such as The Three Litte Pigs and This Little Pig Went to Market, as well as picture book texts by David McPhail, Martin Waddell and Pat Hutchins.

Farmyard Fun, the second title, includes seven animal tales, again mixing the traditional with more contemporary tales. Stories include Bear and Chook, by Lisa Shanahan and Nighty Night, by Margaret Wild.

The final title in the set is Pony Tales. This two CD offering features the stories by Sheryn Dee, from the junior novels of the same name. There are eight stories in all, sharing the adventures of young Jessie and her horse Magic.

All three titles include lively voice talent (readers include Anna Steen, Andrew McFarlane and Terry Bader) as well as musical breaks. The reading and story selection make the CDs easy and enjoyable to listen to.

The set would be suitable for classroom use but would be just as good for private listening. It would also be perfect for car travel.

A fun set.

The Farmyard Box, by Various Authors
ABC Audio, 2004

Eugenie Sandler P.I., by David McRobbie

Eugenie Sandler just wants to be a normal teenager. Tired of moving and hiding regularly when her father’s work as a private investigator becomes tricky, Eugenie longs for the chance to stay in one place long enough to make some friends and perhaps even have a boyfriend. All that seems pretty unlikely when Eugenie’s father disappears mysteriously. Suddenly Eugenie’s life is even more haphazard than she could ever have imagined.

As she searches for her father, Eugenie realises that she is being followed. Someone is trying to capture her, possibly even to kill her. And, as she tries to unravel the truth, she realises that there is a mystery in her past which could have devastating consequences for her future.

Eugenie Sandler P.I. is a novelisation of a television series which screened on ABC television in 2001. It has a balance of mystery, soul-searching and light romance which will be very appealing for teenagers. The voice of Rachael Blake as reader is clear and appropriate for the subject matter and target audience. Available on 5 audio tapes, Eugenie Sandler P.I. runs for 5 hours and thirty minutes.

Eugenie Sandler P.I., by David McRobbie, read by Rachael Blake
ABC Audio, 2002

Children's AudioBook Review: Bandaid, by Kym Lardner

Kym Lardner entertains 30 000 primary school children in Australian every year. Now, for those children who can’t get to one of his performances, or who have seen him but want more, ABC Audio presents a live recording of his work.

Bandaid, recorded with a live audience, is great fun. Lardner combines tales of his childhood with silly songs and sound effects for 40 minutes of non-stop giggles.

It is refreshing in these days of constant visual stimulation, to see young listeners laughing and enjoying an audio tape presentation so much.

Bandaids is suitable for classroom listening, but is just as appropriate for private enjoyment for primary school aged children.

Bandaid and Other Stories for Giggling, by Kym Lardner
ABC Audio 2002