Now hear this!

7th November 1997 at 00:00
From down to Earth to out of this world: the top 10 tapes and tape-book sets

Bonechillers. Collins Pounds 5.99. Ages 7-11. Good, spine-tingling, nail-biting stuff weaves together hokum and adolescent drama in stories about youngsters at American schools with a creepy twist. Victoria Neumark (TES, June 13)

Percy's Friends. HarperCollins. Pounds 3.99. Also: The Badger's Bath. The Hedgehog's Balloon. The Treasure Hunt. By Nick Butterworth. HarperCollins book-tapes Pounds 5.99 each. Ages 3-6

Richard Briers sounds like melted butter on asparagus. He's the perfect teller for Nick Butterworth's cosy tales of Percy the chuckling park keeper. As Nick Butterworth's illustration skills are more accomplished than his narrative ones, the sets are a better bet. Victoria Neumark (TES, January 10)

Postman Pat and the Hole in the Road

Hodder book and tape Pounds 9.99. Ages 3-7

"There's a hole in the road and Postman Pat can't deliver his letter. Will PC Selby be able to help?" I think all of us Postman Pat fans will be able to answer that. No surprises with Pat, just lots of kind, innocent fun. Hodder's versions come with handsome, large hard-back books; Hippo has reissued the old stories with smaller books and tapes. Both sets have music, both are read by Ken Barrie, both will have huge and deserved sales. Victoria Neumark (TES, February 14)

She Classic Nursery Rhymes

Hodder Pounds 3.99. Ages up to 6

Fun sound-effects, an admirably non-patronising attitude and musical arrangements far removed from the normal boom-bang-a-bang approach. Several of the tracks sound distinctly Talking Heads-ish and the rhymes have a sense of drama. Susan Young (TES, January 17)

Star Wars

Reed Books Pounds 4.99. Ages 7-11

Not the film soundtrack, but a well turned-out abridgement guaranteed to amuse interplanetary warriors. The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi are available too. They come with read-along books which are quite within the comprehension of a seven-year-old, especially with the signal to turn the page. Victoria Neumark (TES, June 13)

The Best Treasury Stories

Hodder Pounds 5.99. Ages 4-8

Absorbing listening in a modern version of those collections of fairy stories that children used to be given at Christmas. Joan Aiken and Jenny Alexander offer magical tales of bears in the bathroom, brothers who turn into pigs and magical palm trees. Victoria Neumark (TES, February 14)

The Pied Piper of Hamelin and Other Poems

Naxos Books Pounds 7.99. Ages 8-13

A delightful compilation of balladsand ballad-imitations such as "The Pied Piper" and "Sir Patrick Spens", nonsense poems ("The Jumblies") and classics (Masefield's "Cargoes" and Shakespeare's "When Icicles Hang by the Wall"). The selection is fine, the reading - by Anton Lesser, Anne Harvey and Katinka Wolf - accomplished. A spine-tingling feast of words. Victoria Neumark (TES, November 8, 1996)

The Star That Fell

Ladybird Pounds 4.99. Ages 3-5

A star falls to Earth and is borrowed by various friends until a little girl notices that its shine is diminishing. The tape is enhanced immeasurably by the accompanying picture book with its exquisite illustrations. The B-side - The Boy Who Went to the Moon, an adventure, read charmingly by the late, great Jon Pertwee - is a real bonus. Jane Markwell (TES, October 25)

The Woven Path

HarperCollins Pounds 7.99. Ages 12-16

A classy horror tale, the first in the Wyrd Museum trilogy by Robin Jarvis. The Wyrd Museum is one of those simple ideas which can be indefinitely exploited. Enter it (at your peril, naturally) and you can be dragged back (or forwards) in time to confront an evil force and rescue a doomed victim. With prose like: "With a clap of thunder the flaming coils gaped wide and Neil was shooting into absolute blackness", who needs any other plot device? Victoria Neumark (TES, November 8)

Tony Robinson's Musical Tales

Hodder Pounds 7.99. Ages All

No book is required to appreciate the joys of this inspirational introduction to classical music and children will be captivated by its compelling mix of words and music that work together to produce such a theatrical result. Throughout the eight classics (which include The Firebird) the script bows to the power of the story and the music takes over seamlessly. A treat to be treasured by the whole family. Jane Markwell (TES, October 25)

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