A Tribute to the Collection of the World's Best Children's Stories Published by Marshall Cavendish
On 12 April 1983, part 8 of Story Teller was published and the main picture on the front was Dot and the Kangaroo – a picture which promised lots of adventure ahead for us readers. The other two pictures were of The Selfish Giant, and Boffy and the Teacher Eater.
The colour theme of this issue was pink: caring, compassion and love. Pink gets its lust for action from red and white gives it an opportunity to achieve success and insight. I think this is very reflective of what Story Teller was for us. This issue had it all: action, success, mystery and love.
Stories in this issue:
What would Story Teller have been without its beautiful and haunting scores? In this issue we were treated to music from Don Harper, Joe Griffiths and Johnny Pearson amongst others. John Griffiths’ delicate notes playing through The Selfish Giant make it all the more moving as we listen and what an emotional story it is. Johnny Pearson, Richard Harvey and Keith Nichols contributed skilfully to Jester Minute – high flying adventure is the theme of this story and you really experience it as you hear the compositions of: Horn Pipe, mini terror 2 and Silent Tears. Prior to Story Teller Johnny Griffiths had been an arranger for Top of the Pops and was also the composer for music which featured in the BBC’s All Creatures Great and Small.
The readers who skilfully read for this issue were Carole Boyd, Joss Ackland and Nigel Lambert.
Nigel Lambert had read for the series many times before this edition but this was the first time to read for Carole Boyd and Joss Ackland. Carole read Dot and the Kangaroo and The Goose that laid the Golden Egg, while Joss read Oliphaunt, The Selfish Giant and The Creation of Man.
Carole trained at the Birmingham School of Speech and Drama, where she won the principal national prize for voice, and the Carleton Hobbs Award and is most famous for voicing the character Lynda Snell in BBC 4’s The Archers.
Joss is an English actor who has appeared in more than 130 film and television roles. He was the voice for Black Rabbit in the film Watership Down and appeared in the two-part TV serial Hogfather based on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.
This issue presented us with the stammering hero Jester Minute – by far one of my favourite characters in Story Teller. Jester Minute didn’t start out as a hero but by the end of the two parter he certainly was.
Oliphaunt was an interesting poem and the description is vivid – you would want this guy on your side. Interesting fact: Oliphant is the Dutch word for Elephant – perhaps the inspiration for Tolkien’s poem?
Dot and the Kangaroo was the new serial for this issue. The story was originally written by Ethel C. Pedley about a little girl named Dot who gets lost in the Australian outback and is eventually befriended by a kangaroo. Other than being a serial in Story Teller it was adapted into a stage production in 1924, and a film in 1977 – which I remember vividly. This story was one which sat in this series with great ease and comfort – plenty of adventures and intrigue.
The Selfish Giant was written in 1888 by Oscar Wilde and first appeared in his book: The Happy Prince and Other Tales. It contains five stories: “The Happy Prince”, “The Nightingale and the Rose”, “The Selfish Giant”, “The Devoted Friend”, and “The Remarkable Rocket”. Perhaps the sadness of the children who can no longer play in the giant’s garden is reflected in that of Wilde’s sons as their beloved father spent more time with his lovers than with them. It appears to be an allegory and to this end the little boy who comes to take the giant to paradise may represent Jesus taking his child home to Heaven.
The Goose that laid the Golden Egg is a familiar Aesop’s fable and was used to teach us all an important moral: don’t be greedy!!
Boffy and the Teacher Eater was written by Margaret Stuart Barry in 1973. It is the story of a boy genius: Boffy. He creates a teacher eater to gulp down all the unwanted staff at his school, it takes a furious father armed with a tin-opener to clear up the resulting disorder.
The Creation of Man is a well told Native American myth of creation and part of their oral tradition. Oral tradition is extremely important to Indian/Native American culture. If there was no oral tradition, there would be no story telling; therefore, no one would know these creation stories today.
Thank you Story Teller for being so diverse in your telling of stories.
Until next time, happy reading
Review by Graeme Johnston