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December 30, 2010 Edition

Suhoís White Horse: a Mongolian legend, retold by Yuzo Otsuka, illustrated by Suekichi Akaba


This lovely and sad story is a legend about the creation of the morin khuur, the Mongolian horse-head fiddle. Suho is a young shepherd who lovingly raises an abandoned foal who grows up to be a magnificent horse and amazingly fast runner. When the local Governor holds a horse race to decide who will marry his daughter, Suho enters the race with his beloved horse and wins, only to be dismissed as too poor to marry into the Governorís family. Not only does he return home bloodied and bruised from a beating by the Governorís men, he returns without his horse, which the Governor has decided to keep. When the white horse runs away, the Governor orders his archers to shoot it, and by the time the white horse finds its way back to Suho, it is dying. Obeying a dream-version of the horse, Suho makes a fiddle from its body which soothes his broken heart and is still played in Mongolia today. The CD contains a reading of the story that is unfortunately dry, but the fiddle music, played by master morin khuur musician Li Bo, is a rare and exquisite glimpse into Mongolian culture.

Captain Abdulís Little Treasure, written and illustrated by Colin McNaughton


Captain Abdulís wife has left his small son with him for a week and he hasnít got a clue how to take care of him. Babies donít belong on a pirate ship! But his crew names the boy Little Treasure and everyone, from Spanish Omar to Khan the Really Nasty, take turns playing horsie, teaching him to tie knots and speak proper English (Oo-argh! Avast! Swossages!), and singing lullabyes. When Captain Abdulís wife returns and sweeps the boy away with her, life on the ship gets very dull. But not for long! Pop in the accompanying CD for a raucous reading of the story by British actor Andrew Sachs.

Hip Hop Speaks to Children, edited by Nikki Giovanni


This is poetry with a beat, and appropriately, the sources for this collection range from poets to musicians. Walter Dean Myers rubs shoulders with Tupac Shakur and Gwendolyn Brooks with Lauryn Hill in a glorious explosion of rhythm and word and meaning. The poems here are meant to be read aloud or even sung, and definitely shared and talked about. Themes include respect for self and others and visions of positive futures. When appropriate, some works have been abridged. The playful and vibrantly-colored illustrations add to the positive tone. The CD contains performances by the original artists (when possible) and when not, by those who have a great feel for the artistís work and words. Delightful to read aloud or to listen to, this is a collection that will introduce grandparents to their grandkidsí generation of artists and give the kids a new perspective on some of the ďold fogeyĒ writers.

Dooby Dooby Moo, by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin


The Duck is at it again! When he spies an ad for a talent show at the county fair, he enlists all his friends to practice their singing and dancing so they can win the grand prize: a trampoline! So, the cows sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, the sheep rehearse Home on the Range, the pigs work on their interpretive dance, Duck gives constructive criticism, and Farmer Brown tries to figure out what they are up to. At last, itís time for the fair and the animalsí big chance Ė is all their practicing going to pay off? The CD includes a reading of the story with and without page-turn signals, plus a chance to hear the farm animals rock out.

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