Saturday, September 27, 2008

Birds in shoes

I love Jim Dale. I think I've said that more than once in this blog. But I think it might be time to take a lengthy vacation from Jim. As I listened to him read the one-hour production of The Shoe Bird, I didn't hear Antonio the parrot, Gloria the goose, or Mickey the mockingbird. I heard Dumbledore, Mrs. Weasley and Dobby the house elf. Sigh.

Based on a short story by the wonderful Eudora Welty, The Shoe Bird tells of the day that Antonio the parrot -- resident of a shoe store -- heard some kid say "Shoes are for the birds." He invites all his feathered friends to come get some shoes and a bit of trouble ensues. This is a fancy production -- with orchestra and children's chorus along with the illustrious Mr. Dale. I'm not even sure that it qualifies as an audiobook, but as its intended audience is not teenagers, it's not something that I have to deal with. Evidently, the Seattle Symphony has already performed this, and another performance -- featuring Jim Dale -- is scheduled for November 1.

The performance on CD was quite delightful to listen to. Dale was expansive and creative (although all his characterizations sound like retreads to me), the young singers sounded lovely and beautifully rehearsed. It's a funny little story, and the whole thing reminded me of Leonard Bernstein and Peter and the Wolf, which was a staple of my audio childhood. And since I can still remember the sound of the oboe as the duck and Bernstein's husky and confiding narration, it certainly can't hurt any child today to have a similar experience. Perhaps the Children's Notable Recordings committee will vote it onto their list.

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