New picks for your storytelling collection By Naomi Leithold

It's a cold, stormy weekend and getting out of a warm bed is a challenge. When my children were younger, these were the days we went to the library for new tapes and books. As we listened to our selections, while cuddling on the couch, the inclement weather seemed to disappear. For the winter days to come, here are my suggestions for new audio releases that are sure to bring a little warmth into your day.


LOVE YOU FOREVER: THE BEST OF ROBERT MUNSCH, performed by Robert Munsch, the Children's Group, 2003, $15.99 for CD, 1 hour; ages 3-9.

Listening to Munsch tell his stories is nothing like reading the stories or having another adult read to you. Munsch's roots as a storyteller shine through in this engaging recording. His storytelling career began, when as a daycare teacher, he would make up tales for his class at nap time. After listening to his energetic, humorous and interactive style, I can't believe that anyone fell asleep! But, I am certain that they did ask for a repeat performance, as your children are bound to do after listening to the first story on this delightful CD.

This recording includes 12 live performances of Munsch's much loved books: Paperbag Princess, Thomas' Snowsuit, Up, Up Down, We Share Everything!, Mortimer, Mmm, Cookies, Maria's Birthday, I Have to Go, Stephanie's Ponytail, Show and Tell, Purple, Green & Yellow, Love You Forever and the yet-to-be published Growl!

All of these stories are based on real children. Many of them Munsch came in contact with through his travels as an author. Munsch prefers to stay with families rather than in hotels when he tours.

Listeners will be instantly attracted to these child-friendly stories. Youngsters will easily relate to Munsch's ability to present the humorous angle of everyday situations, as in We Share Everything!, when kindergartners think that this rule includes their clothing. Munsch proves that he definitely understands this age group by his choice of child-friendly topics, such as being quiet after the lights are turned off. It won't be long before your child is joining in with the many repeats and trying to duplicate Munsch's exaggerated sounds. Even though the subject matter is aimed at young audiences, the whole family is sure to enjoy this highly entertaining recording.

"Love You Forever: The Best of Robert Munsch" can be purchased at major bookstores and online at

GROUNDHOG AT EVERGREEN ROAD, by Susan Korman, illustrated by Higgins Bond, narrated by Alexi Komisar, Trudy Corporation and The Smithsonian Institute, 2003, $35.95 for hardcover book, stuffed animal and audiocassette, $19.95 for book and audiocassette, 8 minutes; ages 4-9.

This tape and book set is part of Smithsonian's Backyard Collection that features familiar animals found in backyards across America. The authentic sound effects-birds chirping, dogs barking and sniffing, and doors closing-along with the colorful illustrations will make children feel as if they are witnessing the story unfold. Komisar's ability to accent the action with inflection and pacing also helps to bring the story to life.

From this simple tale children will learn about a groundhog's life above and below the ground. Interesting facts about this animal's development, his characteristics and predators are woven into the story. Children are bound to want to do further research on this marmot after listening to this audiocassette.

"Groundhog at Evergreen Road" can be purchased at major bookstores and online at

AMERICAN TALL TALES, told by Jim Weiss, Greathall Productions, 2003, $10.95 for audiocassette, $14.95 for CD, 1 hour; ages 7 and up.

Weiss' explanation of what a tall tale is, along with the four tales, "Paul Bunyan," "Johnny Appleseed," "Pecos Bill" and an original story, "The Fastest Draw in the West," are a wonderful way to introduce children to a story that is part of our American tradition. Children will get swept up as they listen to Weiss spin these stories, based on exaggerating the truth. With his rich, fun-filled descriptions, such as baby Paul Bunyan sleeping in a fishing boat cradle, children will be able to see the stories in their imaginations. The stories are given additional texture by Weiss' numerous character voices and polished telling voice.

Weiss' creativity shines through in his tale, "The Fastest Draw in the West." This feminist story finds Tall Tim from Tombstone in a shoot out with Dainty Diminutive Dana from Durango in order to settle an argument over who is the faster draw. Listeners are sure to chuckle as they listen to the many tongue twister character names in this story. This story can be used as an introduction to having children write their own tall tales or create a unique tongue twister.

"American Tall Tales" can be purchased at independent toy and book stores and online at


Naomi Leithold is an award-winning storyteller and early childhood educator. She lives in Skokie and has two boys, ages 12 and 15. Her Web site,, features story starters and other resources for young storytellers.



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