Cabbage Soup, Princess Stories, and the Ballou Book Fair

It’s book fair time again at Ballou Senior High School! For those that haven’t heard of it, the community over at Guys Lit Wire has been working for a couple of years to build up a decent library for the kids at this inner city D.C. high school. The ALA recommends 11 books per child at school libraries; Ballou had less than one when Guys Lit Wire first hooked up with them. They’re now up to five books per kid, but there’s still a long way to go. They have a wish list over at Powell’s books, and lots of the books on the wish list are on sale. They are also fine with books in “standard used condition.” Buy your favorite teen books or buy what’s on sale – but please pause a moment to consider the horror of kids not allowed to feed a reading addiction and pick something out for them. Send them to:
Melissa Jackson, LIBRARIAN
Ballou Senior High School
3401 Fourth Street SE
Washington DC 20032
(202) 645-3400
From Chasing Ray: It’s very important that you get Melissa’s name and title in there – she is not the only Jackson (or Melissa) at the school and we want to make sure the books get to the library.
Read lots more about this at Guys Lit Wire and at Chasing Ray.

My daughter, at three and a half, is just getting old enough to ask for stories sometimes as well as music. Here is some of what we’ve tried.
Cabbage Soup
Cabbage Soup by Children’s Radio Theatre. It was not so long ago that my mother found this CD version of Cabbage Soup, which had been a favorite cassette when I was growing up in the 1980s. It has two stories on it. Cabbage Soup is a silly musical retelling of Rapunzel, while Beauty and the Beast is a straight-up radio drama of the original, both with full casts and soundtrack. In Cabbage Soup, the Rapunzel household is shared with a wise-cracking talking bear named Max, who occasionally interrupts the story to let the characters know that they are not following the story appropriately. The vegetables in the witch’s garden talk to Mr. Rapunzel; Mrs. Rapunzel’s craving is for cabbage soup, not rampion; the prince Rapunzel’s talking bird finds to rescue her wears thick glasses and hiking boots. It’s all punctuated with cute musical-style songs about the magical powers of cabbage soup and (from the witch) how tough it is being evil. I loved this so much as a child that I once inflicted the entire half hour on my birthday-party guests; my daughter listened to it endlessly for a couple of months and still asks for it frequently. The Beauty and the Beast retelling has only a couple of songs and much less to separate it from any other audio retelling, but my daughter seems to love it quite nearly as much, though it took us a few weeks of her asking for “Fairy on the Beach” to figure out what she wanted.

Princess StoriesBarefoot Books Presents Princess Stories retold Caitlin Mathews. Narrated by Margaret Wolfson.
I checked this one out from the library in a vain attempt to introduce some variety into my daughter’s audio fairy tale diet. This has seven stories from around the world, all featuring princesses. There are lovely harp and flute interludes between each of the stories. Here are the stories: the Princess and the Pea (Denmark), the Mountain Princess (Persian), the Princess Who Lost her Hair (Akamba), the Birdcage Husband (Central Asian), the Beggar Princess (Chinese), the Horned Snake’s Wife (Iroquois), and the Sleeping Beauty. I’ve been a fairy tale junkie since childhood – I read through nearly every anthology I could find at my childhood library – but only the first and last stories were familiar to me. There was a nice balance between more traditional princesses like the one in “Sleeping Beauty” and more active princesses like the one in “The Birdcage Princess”, who had to rescue her husband, as well as princesses who rescued themselves from bad husbands. The narrator has a rich voice that was very pleasant to listen to, though she didn’t do lots of voices for all the different characters. These are not necessarily gentle stories – the greedy husband in “The Beggar Princess” tries to murder her when he thinks he can find a better wife – but neither are they scarier than your average Disney fairy tale movie. Sadly, my daughter did not like them – I think the condensed amount of story-telling needed to fit seven fairly complicated tales onto one CD made them too hard for her to follow. I, however, enjoyed them very much, and think that she’ll be ready for them in a year or two, and at least up to age ten.

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About Katy K.

I'm a librarian and book worm who believes that children and adults deserve great books to read.
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