Old hare and tortoise race is a dead heat

21st February 2003 at 00:00
The Hare and the Tortoise. Early years CD. Wee Stories Theatre, pound;8.50. www.weestoriestheatre.org tel 0131 557 6107

Wee Stories Theatre has been a leader in children's theatre since its founding in 1995. Now, with the support of National Lottery funds, its first early years production, the successful The Hare and the Tortoise, has been turned into an enjoyable CD that nursery and infant teachers will find useful.

Virginia Radcliffe (Hare) and Deborah Arnott (Tortoise) play almost all the parts and make an excellent job of the characters. They certainly kept me enthralled through a dreich afternoon train trip from Dundee to Glasgow.

Aesop's fable has been expanded with a lot of byplay between Hare and Tortoise, a number of funny incidents - bairns will love the Bun Brothers and the Spooky Wood - and songs and chants to join in. All will delight under-fives.

Children appear as fans, spectators and cheerleaders, so there is a sensible interactive element.

The 71-minute CD is divided into short sections, with enough repetition built in so that teachers can choose to use the story over several days.

The last track is a 12-minute straight telling of the tale. A first-rate teacher's pack is available, with lyrics, activities and suggestions for follow-up work.

My only complaint is that Aesop's ending has been changed so that the race ends in a dead heat. I know the idea that everyone must be a winner is in fashion, but countless generations have been encouraged to persevere by the example of the Tortoise. An equal number of bright or swift youngsters have probably been reminded by the Hare not to rest on their laurels.

Sheena Wellington is a guest lecturer in traditional music

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