John Henry (Rabbit Ears: A Classic Tale (Spotlight))

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9781591977643: John Henry (Rabbit Ears: A Classic Tale (Spotlight))

A version of the great American folktale chronicles the colorful exploits of African-American folk hero John Henry, the steel-driving man, in a lively audio edition featuring music by B. B. King. Read by Denzel Washington.

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From AudioFile:

[Editor's note: The following is a combined review with THE BLUE JACKAL & THE FOOLISH LION, TWO GREEDY BEARS, and WILEY AND THE HAIRY MAN.] -- One of the joys of folktales is that the heroes and heroines come in all shapes and sizes. Those who live by their wits are a remarkable group of characters. This collection of folktales includes memorable examples. In Two Greedy Bears, Mirra Ginsburg retells the Hungarian tale of two affable bear cubs who exist in a state of one-upmanship and who are ultimately tricked out of their cheese by the sly and crafty fox. Their voices are childlike and boastful, and the listener can just picture the cubs posturing and pouting as they try to outdo each other. Their answers in unison to the fox are spectacular, but the fox is triumphant in his final bite. The Karadi tales offer two resourceful animals from Indian folklore. First a young hare, questioning, eager, and crafty, outsmarts the pompous lion who feeds on all the animals of the jungle. Then, a jackal falls in with a pot of blue dye and comes out the wiser, eventually. That a mother and son combination outwit the strange and scary creature of the Southern swamps is the triumph of Wiley and the Hairy Man. Wiley's mother is confident and cunning as she helps her son devise three ways to trick the Hairy Man, and this confidence echoes in Wiley's voice as he faces his nemesis. And the voice of the Hairy Man is just scary enough! There's no doubt that the hero is of exceptional size and capability in John Henry. Denzel Washington is friendly, conversational, and colloquial as he shares this tall tale. Who but John Henry could "bust out of his baby shoes" or drive steel "like it was going out of style"? Since John Henry "couldn't hammer without singing," Washington does, too! Listening to each of these folktales brings great pleasure and the suggestion to use wit and wisdom in our own lives. While listening, be sure to savor the exceptional artwork of Molly Bang in Wiley and the Hairy Man and B.B. King's musical accompaniment to John Henry. A.R. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine

From School Library Journal:

Grade 1-3?John Henry appears in yet another retelling that seeks to add to the accomplishments of this American hero. This version repeats the traditional story of the baby born with a hammer in his hand, son of sharecroppers or former slaves, and ally of labor. He is pitted, man versus metal, against the new-fangled steam drill, and beats the machine. However, Kessler's reliance on a folksy, down-home approach with a dialect full of apocopes ("Now ain't no history books gonna tell you about John Henry, 'cause he was just too plain big for them books") makes the text somewhat confusing. Jackson's illustrations, although bright and colorful, lack consistency and sometimes make the steel-driving man appear downright silly. There are panoramas of the landscape, precipitous trestles, and lines of railroad ties that help give breadth to the monumental task of building a railroad, but all together there is a lack of the quiet dignity that the story of John Henry demands. Stick with Julius Lester's version, the now classic and ever-strong one by Ezra Jack Keats, or Terry Small's retelling in verse. Each adds something that the Kessler/Jackson offering lacks.? Harriett Fargnoli, Great Neck Library, NY
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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