Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Listening to the holidays

I probably should have posted this a couple months ago, but here are a few short audiobooks I enjoyed last year – and am listening to again this year – with holiday-themed stories.

Halloween is already past, but one of my favorite spooky movies to watch with the kids is the 1949 Disney version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow narrated by Bing Crosby.  My 6th grade teacher, Mr. Spjute, probably showed it to us five or six times, and I still enjoy watching it each year.  Written by Washington Irving in 1820, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has Ichabod Crane, the superstitious new school teacher in the little hamlet of Sleepy Hollow, falling for the lovely Katrina Van Tassel, while making an enemy of the dashing local hero, Brom Bones.  As he returns home late one night from a harvest party, he runs into the ghostly Headless Horseman.  Even though the book is short, it's not the easiest to read simply because it's written in a narrative style (ie. someone telling a story) and contains no dialogue.  But read by Tom Mison – the Ichabod of the television series – it's a very enjoyable listen (especially for all the women who think he's sooo handsome).

Christmas Eve, 1914 by Charles Olivier is a very nice dramatization of the so-called "Christmas Truce" in the early part of WWI.  It's portrayed through a letter written after the war by an officer but with the live-action-memories happening at the same time.  The focus of the story is on the lead-up to the actual "cease-fire," the different personalities in the British trenches, and the awful waste of life in war.  I thought the audio version did a great job of heightening the tension that must have been felt when the enemy approached with the request for a cease-fire.  I don't know that it's meant to be historically accurate – with the planned British offensive for Christmas day and all – but it was very nicely acted out and worth listening to.

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is another favorite for the holidays, and I've enjoyed getting together with friends and family in years past to read it on a Sunday afternoon and evening.  It's the well-known story of Ebenezer Scrooge, the miserly old man who has a change of heart when visited by several ghosts on Christmas Eve.  Tim Curry (who – interestingly enough! – played Pennywise in Stephen King's It) reads this version.  His voice is sometimes a little too rummy and muddled to be understood perfectly, but he does a very good job of reading this timeless story. 

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