________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 21. . . .February 5, 2010.


Tell Me A Story 3: Women of Wonder.

Amy Friedman. Music by Laura Hall.
Los Angeles, CA: Friedman & Danziger Publications (kellsmom@gmail.com or www.MythsAndTales.com), 2009.
CD, 68 min., 3 sec. $14.95 (US).
ISBN 978-0-9790867-3-1.

Grades 3 and up / Ages 8 and up.

Review by Gail de Vos.




Long ago, in Stamboul, there lived a wealthy pasha who loved and admired his wife, Ozlem. Whenever he had a chance, he spoke of Ozlem's goodness. He bragged that she was the most compassionate woman in the world.

And this was true. Ozlem cared for everyone. Some days she baked sweet baklava and offered this to the poor workers whose hungry faces made her sad.

She often noticed in particular one young man. This was the chopdji, the dustman. He was a quiet fellow, always thorough in his work. One day Ozlem was watching the dustman clean the streets and she noticed tears welling his eyes.

Naturally her heart went out to him, and so she stepped outside and called to him. "Young man, can I help you?"

Startled, the dustman looked up. Merchants and pashas never spoke to him. He looked down and blushed, but Ozlem called again. "Tell me, please, what is wrong?"

The dustman stepped forward shyly and shook his head. "There's nothing anyone can do. Our Cadi, the judge, robbed me of all my money. But who would believe someone like me?"

But Ozlem was no fool. She had heard that the Cadi of Stamboul was a greedy man. And so she looked with kindness at the dustman and said, "Tell me your side of the story." (From “The Lady and the Judge: A Turkish Folktale.”)

These six tales of heroines are adapted from traditional folktales that originated in Great Britain, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Turkey, Siberia and the United States. In each story, a female character is confronted with a challenge that initially seems impossible to solve but is accomplished through creative and insightful means. Production values of the stories are impeccable, with original music composed by Laura Hall crafting a bridge between each of the tales as well as providing an overture for the entire listening experience. Each tale is adroitly read by one of contemporary stage and screen's most talented female performers, only one of which is a professional storyteller. And this is where the major problem with the cd surfaces.

     Most of the notes on both the cd packaging and the website focus on these performers and their film and television credits instead of the stories. There are no source notes for any of the tales, either on the cd or on the website, although the website includes the transcript for each of the tales. We are not given any idea of how author Amy Friedman adapted these tales or how authentic they are to the original culture from hence they came. Items based on folklore that do not provide source notes should be only used as supplementary materials.

     So while these stories may appeal to both female and male listeners, educators and librarians must use caution in utilizing these recordings because of the lack of this very elemental background matter. The cd was the Winner of 2009 Parents Choice Gold Medal and 2009 NAPPA Gold Medal for storytelling.

Recommended with reservations.

Gail de Vos teaches at the School of Library and Information Studies for the University of Alberta and is the author of eight books on storytelling and folklore.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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