Top critical review
12 people found this helpful
Would not choose this for younger children! Going in the bin!!!
on 6 February 2014
Bought this to listen to in the car with my 8 year old and 5 year old twins based on other reviews - it was not what I expected! Quite bleak stories with old fashioned wording and lots of death and cunning. It does not say on the packaging what stories are included. On the first CD there are 3 stories - The Emperor's New Clothes, The Tinderbox and The Travelling Companions. The second has The Ugly Duckling, The Little Match Girl, The Swineherd, and Big Claus and Little Claus.
My twins listened to The Emperor's New Clothes and loved it so we were off to a great start.
In the Tinderbox a soldier meets an "ugly" witch that offers him all the gold and treasures he can carry from her store if he gets them himself, and also her tinderbox. Her manner to him is pleasant, she does not seem out to trick him, but she is a witch. He does this but refuses to give her her box as he is suspicious of why she should want it and not the treasures. After a brief discussion with her he decides the best thing to do is cut off her head with his sword. This seems to work for him as from this encounter he goes on to spend all the wealth and lives well (gives some to the poor) until he is poor again. Then he discovers that the tinderbox gives him anything he asks for. Including marriage to a princess. But before this we have the description of the near hanging of the hero (he was visiting the princess behind the back of the King and Queen), until he uses the tinderbox to rescue himself. My twins did not think this a very appealing story. it just seemed to be the soldier getting his own way and he is not an especially appealing character. Generated lots of questions about hanging people though!
The Travelling Companions starts with John (we assumed he was a child but he must be older) in a dark room, late at night alone, apart from his father who is dying. This then happens and you then learn that John is alone in the world and only owns the money in his pocket. He cries himself to sleep and has a dream about marrying a princess (who appears later in the story). After the burial, which is described, he sets out, alone, sleeping rough, and soon meets some strangers. He discovers there is a "dead man" in a coffin that they are planning to throw out of the coffin and leave lying on the ground outside a church because the dead man owes them money. John does not think this is right and pays the debt with all of the money he has - after putting the body right. He travels on and meets a stranger and they journey together and get on well. ... They eventually arrive at a palace. The princess there keeps having suitors hung or beheaded as they answer her questions incorrectly. His companion discovers the answers to the questions she poses and this not only saves the hero from death but he also manages to marry her. This part of the story involves beating the princess with a birch when she is flying to meet an ogre at night to make her back bleed (she is a Sorceress who they cure later). The ogre wants to eat the eyeballs of the hero if he gets the answers wrong. All very dramatic and a long part of the story. At the end of the story it turns out the companion is actually the dead man the boy paid not to be thrown out of his coffin and he has helped him by way of thanks. This story as you can imagine was the beginning of many discussions about what new words meant, why would the men want to do that etc etc. None of my girls liked this story but at the same time did not want to switch it off until they had heard all of it.
The second CD I have listened to while they were out. It has the Ugly Ducking, good I thought, a positive story they had heard before. But of course this version has a slightly different slant. Lots of comments about how ugly he is, he is picked on, bitten, kicked, etc because of this. Some ganders fly over and fall to the ground dead - they have been shot. There is a shooting party at the pond, but luckily the scary gun dog does not bite him he is so ugly. Also the part at the end when he sees some swans and the narrator tells us he is sure they are going to hack him to pieces because he is so ugly, but better that than his other hardships. He therefore swims towards them saying "Kill me! Kill me!". But it is okay he is a swan. When he is a beautiful swan everyone is kind to him and he is happy.
I had forgotten The Little Match Girl was about a little girl who freezing to death in the street alone at night - if she went home "her father would beat her" ... She is happy though as she sees a shooting star "Someone is dying" she thought. This is what her dead grandma had told her a shooting star meant, and sure enough that is what we soon learn has happened to her on news years eve!
The Swineherd is about a Prince in disguise as a herdsman who gets a princess to kiss him in exchange for amazing musical things she wants to buy off him. This is then found out and she and the prince are thrown out of the palace. He then dresses as a handsome prince and tells her he despises her and refuses to marry her as she had refused to even meet him when he had visited her and given her a rose and a nightingale, but she had kissed a swineherd.
Big Claus and Little Claus is a very long story ... have just listened to it. It involves the death of a horse, killed by big Claus because of an argument. This is the only horse of little Claus - he then "flays" the dead horse and he sets out on a journey to sell the skin. This involves a strange tale of a Farmers Wife having a meal with the Sexton while her husband is away. She hides the food and Sexton when her husband comes back with little Claus, who pretends the skin is a goblin who will magic the food (she has hidden) out of the oven for them and the devil (in the shape of the Sexton) out of the chest he had been hiding in. The Farmer gives him lots of money and the chest with the Sexton in it in exchange for what he thinks is the goblin. LC tricks the Sexton to give him lots of money for letting him out and not drowning him. He is rich when he gets home. He tells Big Claus he is rich from selling the horse's skin so Big Claus kills his 4 horses with an axe and flays them to sell their skins. But is chased out of the town as he asks so much for them. He decides to kill LC as a result. LC's grandmother had just died. He puts her in his bed to try to revive her and sits by the bed overnight. BC then appears and takes the axe to the grandmother thinking it is LC. LC is of course pleased it was not him and was glad she was already dead before the axeman arrived! He then puts her in the seat of his cart to make her look alive. Sends an Inn Keeper out to give her a drink. She does not answer. He gets cross and throws the drink at her, her body falls over. LC accuses him of killing her, and therefore bribes him to give him money and bury her for not telling anyone. BC cannot understand that LC is not dead. LC tells him he killed his grandmother, and he has sold her body for money. BC then kills his grandmother (with the axe) and takes the body to the "apothecary" for money. The apothecary thinks him mad and therefore lets him drive off. BC puts LC in a sack to drown him in the river. They stop at church on the way. LC tricks an old man to get in the sack instead of him to enable him to get to heaven sooner. LC then takes the cattle of the old man and drives them on their way. BC drowns the man in the sack and gets home to find LC back home with lots of cattle. He tells BC they were in the sea, so BC drowns himself in a big sack with a big stone in it, thinking he is going to get some cattle of his own ...Glad I didn't play this one when my daughters were at home.
Am afraid this is not what I was expecting and it is going in the bin! It's like the 10 o'clock news version of children's' stories! Would also add that the wording is quite old fashioned. The voice of the narrator is nice.
I THINK AMAZON SHOULD CHECK THE CONTENT OF CHILDREN'S CDS MORE CAREFULLY AND MAKE IT CLEAR TO PARENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!