Narrator: Neil Gaiman
Published by Harper Audio on August 31st 2004
Length: 48 mins
Genres: Fantasy, Kiddie Books
Four of beloved author Neil Gaiman's delightfully scary, strange, and hilarious children's tales read by the author, now available unabridged. This collection includes: The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish: An unforgettable story that will take readers on a journey into the murky mind of a young boy and the perils of striking a bargain. The Wolves in the Walls: Lucy is sure there are wolves living in the walls of their house -- and, as everybody says, if the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over. Her family doesn't believe her. Then one day, the wolves come out. Cinnamon: This charming fable of an exotic princess who refuses to speak currently exists only on Neil's official website and has never been published in print or any other format. Crazy Hair: Bonnie tries to comb the narrator's crazy hair -- where gorillas leap and tigers stalk -- and is in for a surprise in this delightful rhyming tale.
The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish *3 stars*
The unnamed narrator, who is only a child, finds himself in a world of trouble when he trades his dad to his friend Nathan for two goldfish. They were marvelous goldfish, and his dad was wasn’t very exciting anyways, but his mother took issue and sent him off to get his dad back. Once he gets to Nathan’s house he finds that Nathan also thought his dad uninteresting and didn’t actually have him anymore because he had been traded to another friend for an electric guitar. The pattern continued.
A very odd story at face-value but is essentially a sententious story of the hazards of trading and I suppose a lesson in ownership. Will children be able to understand this? I suppose it depends on the age but if it was one of my children reading this, my guess would be their brains would quickly begin to concoct ways on how they could trade me for some goldfish.
The Wolves in the Walls *3.5 stars*
When Lucy started hearing noises in the walls that hustled and bustled, crinkled and crackled and knew that there were most certainly wolves inside the walls. Her mother tried to silence her fears by telling her it was more than likely just mice because it certainly couldn’t be wolves because once the wolves come out, it’s all over. But Lucy knew it couldn’t possibly be mice.
Once the wolves come out it’s up to Lucy to save her family. ‘The Wolves in the Walls’ is a tale I believe kids would identify with because of the ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ nature of it all and the adults dismissal of her beliefs as simply a case of an overactive imagination. Despite the obvious embellishments to enhance the entertainment of the story I found this to be a cute lesson for kids on learning how to trust your instincts and face your fears.
Cinnamon *4 stars*
Cinnamon was a princess and was not only blind but did not speak. Her father’s concern increases until he offers many riches to anyone who could get his daughter to finally speak. Many come and many fail but when a man-eating tiger arrives at the palace no one believes he would be of any help to Cinnamon, other than a help to his appetite.
The night the tiger had with Cinnamon was spent telling her of the land outside of the palace and inevitably spurred her interest and curiosity. Rich in symbolism yet simple in scope, Cinnamon is a perfect lesson in seeing past riches, experiencing new things and finding the true value of life itself.
Bonnie’s encounters a stranger that has hair that is so incredibly crazy that there is a honest-to-goodness jungle inside of it. Bonnie insists that it’s definitely manageable and just needs a good brushing. As she begins to brush, something entirely unexpected occurs.
Neil Gaiman clearly wrote this story about himself. Crazy Hair is a bizarre imagining of what takes place within hair that is crazy and beyond control. The rhyming rhythm puts a smile on your face and would likely be a fantastic read-aloud to any child.
All four of these stories were the whimsical sort of tales full of symbolism and life lessons that I’ve come to expect from Gaiman. I enjoyed Crazy Hair the most because of the wonderful rhyming style but Cinnamon was the best overall for its fantastic message. Would love to check all of these out someday to be able to appreciate the artwork of Dave McKean.