Friday, February 17, 2012
The Heart Shaped Tree
Stories written and performed by Max Tell; Music and Accompaniment by Doug Banner; $14.99
Reviewed by Linda Goodman
This enchanting CD for children, brought to life by the silky-smooth, other-worldly voice of Max Tell and the impressive musical skills of Doug Banner, features life lessons learned by “upsetting the apple cart”.
The centerpiece of this album is the title story, The Heart Shaped Tree, set in a village where balls, stones, and children have minds of their own. Here exist two great houses, separated by barbed wire and hatred. As a young girl and a young boy bravely defy the bigotry (one house accuses the other of “unclean blood”) and embark upon a forbidden friendship nurtured at their secret tree, they come to realize that they are not so different. Of course, they are discovered and an angry crowd insists that the prescribed punishment, stoning, be carried out by the children’s own parents. From such ugliness, beauty of the soul and spirit is born, as innocent children teach the adults the true meaning of peace on earth.
The sound effects in The Heart Shaped Tree are quite effective. The tongue clucking of the House of Argu drips with disdain and the hissing of the House of Argy hints at danger. Having the voices of the different characters call to me from different computer speakers around my office was an interesting device, and one I had not experienced before.
Two bonus tracks are included on this album. Born Upon a Shelf is a catchy tune about the treasures found in books. The other bonus track, and my favorite, is Rodney Scribble, set in the town of Scribble, whose citizens take pride in their illegible penmanship. Enter Rodney Scribble, the great, great, great, great grandson of the town’s namesake and founder. Poor Rodney Scribble cannot scribble! He can only write. This story has elements reminiscent of Dr Seuss’s famous rhymes and Frank Baum’s Magical Monarch of Mo. Children will love joining in on the repeated mantra, “This kid can write! We’ll never sleep another night!”
Parents seeking stories that they can share with their children will delight in this album. Children will also enjoy listening to it on their own. I listened to it with my eight- year-old granddaughter, who insisted on taking it home with her. I chuckled at the first line of her thank you letter: “I cannot scribble. I can only write.”