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Bentley | 24010 comments This book won the 2010 Audiobook of the year:

Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales  by Nelson Mandela Nelson MandelaNelson Mandela


In a unique effort to raise money for the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and Artists for New South Africa, 23 narrators recorded as many African Folktales hand-picked by Mandela for this collection. The narrators — ranging from Samuel L. Jackson to Whoopi Goldberg to Charlize Theron — are notable actors. Half the fun of listening to these tales is trying to guess who's reading. While some voices are more distinctive than others — kudos to Alan Rickman (perhaps best known now for his portrayal of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series) who uses his pebbly baritone and stop-go cadence to full, dark effect in "The Ring of the King" — all are entertaining. Also listen for "Fesito Goes to the Market", where Don Cheadle enunciates as loudly, clearly, and confidently as the best live storytellers, while giving each character a different attitude with a remarkable range of tones. Helen Mirren, too, gives a standout performance — reaching the point where strength and vulnerability collide — in the epic and bittersweet "The Mother Who Turned to Dust".

The stories themselves are classic morality tales, including kings and children, lions and hyenas, gold and magic. Some of the lessons are straightforward, others more cryptic, but each legend is its own full and colorful world. The stories, which average about 10 minutes each, are perfect for children — not that they're at all childish. The universal themes hit hard; the tales don't always end happily, but they're light and wondrous enough for children, while being deep enough for adults (or kids) who choose to look further. At under four hours, the collection is short, but there's enough here that you'll want to listen over and over again — it's sure to become a favorite bedtime ritual.

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