Jun 22, 2012
Audio Book Review: The Heart Shaped Tree
Author: Max Tell
Publisher: Max Tell Productions
Source: review copy from author
The Heart Shaped Tree is a recording of two stories and a song, all performed by author and storyteller Max Tell. When I popped the disc into my player, my first thought was "What are these tracks called?" There's no labeling on the disc itself (or in iTunes), which was a little disconcerting right at first. However, my rapidly-arriving second thought was, "Wow, this guy's voice is amazing!" Not just the timbre and crystal-clear enunciation, but his pacing and timing, which vividly demonstrate that silence is as important as sound. Then I caught myself daydreaming about other audiobooks I'd love to hear him narrate and had to rewind so I wouldn't miss the content.
Track 1 - The Heart Shaped Tree
The title track is the story of two kids who form a friendship despite their family's feud (Romeo and Juliet without the naughty bits). It has a really interesting Grimm's fairy tale feel to it, and is so clearly described that it's oddly visual - I could picture the action with great clarity. Tell also uses sound effects (tongue clicking and hissing) that kids will love to join in with, and the musical accompaniment underscores the emotion of each scene.
Track 2 - A song about books
This one reminded me of old-fashioned ballads and folk songs, if they happened to be about books. The part I liked best was the contrast between the minor key (my favorite) and the occasional, totally unexpected funny bits in the lyrics.
Track 3 - A funny story about bad handwriting
In fact, the main character is the only kid in town whose writing is legible. In contrast to "The Heart Shaped Tree", this story is comedic, with lots of word play, repetition, and rhyme in dialogue. While listening to it, I was struck by how different Max Tell's voice sounded as he performed it, relative to the sound of Track 1. There's a wonderful synergy between the tone of the story and the tone of his voice. Great fun!
Appropriate for kids as young as six, I recommend The Heart Shaped Tree for your next family road trip!
For more information on Max Tell, his concerts, and his CDs, visit his website. You can preview audio clips of his work for free.