Bonnie Greenberg



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From the Hearts of the People

The Wonder Child and Other Young Heroes
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Oppenheim Toy Award

  CD Review by Karrie Hagerty in the Tale Trader Magazine

As a child, I grew up listening to nursery rhymes and tall tales. I sat mesmerized by the storyteller at the local library's storyhour every Saturday afternoon. What I would like to know is where was Bonnie Greenberg when I was a child? Greenberg's mix of inspirational storytelling and goodhearted song brings us all back to the magical and innocent times of our childhood.

The Wonder Child and Other Young Heroes, brings six treasures from many cultures and shares inspiring lessons for life. Greenberg challenges us to look beyond the obvious and mundane events in our lives and revel in the small, seemingly insignificant gifts that remain constant, yet rarely unveiled.

The CD begins with a truth teaching about one person making a difference. The Starfish is a story about a little girl believing she can save stranded starfish by singlehandedly throwing them into the ocean. She was thought to be foolish by her grandmother, but believed by saving only one starfish, she had made a difference. This comment made her grandmother think and realize her small, eight-year-old granddaughter COULD make a difference in life no matter how small she was. I believe if we all shared in this philosophy we would all live in a happier place.

ìThe Wonder Childî is a wonderful Jewish fairy tale. The tale focuses on the grimness of jealousy and the beauty of truth and innocence. This tale reminded me a bit of the wicked witch of the forest and Snow White. Love and kindness blanket the evil, greed, and hatred of the jealous queen; a loving family is reunited. The King and The Wonder Childî live happily ever after.

The next story is derived from Chinese Folklore. I absolutely loved Min-Yo and the Moon Dragon. The moon is thought to be falling closer to Earth and the villagers are worried. A trip to visit the Moon Dragon is planned to plea for the salvation of Planet Earth. Min-Yo is summoned by the village to make the dangerous climb up the cobweb staircase to ask for the Moon Dragon's help, since she is dainty enough to climb the falling-down staircase. She brings gifts of treats and diamonds to gain the dragon's friendship and trust.
Little does Min-Yo know that all the Moon Dragon needs is love and respect from his neighbors on Earth. In fact, the abundance of diamonds was the start of all the misfortune.
The fourth story is an Israeli folktale, whose author, Rabbi Robert Samuels, is an influential part of Greenbergís work. The Little Heroes of Kfar Tabor is a tale of a community uniting to overcome an almost impossible obstacle. All the villagers want is a school for their children to learn and grow. However, due to erroneous laws placed by the Turks, that dream seemed just that, a dream. I was inspired by the will of the parents and children to make their dream a reality.
This tale reiterates the morals of teamwork and goodwill toward humankind.

A surprise awaited me on the fifth track of Greenberg's CD. She really does give us a great sense of cultural variation and lessons. Johnny Appleseed, an old American legend, has been around for generations. Johnny, a motherless child, decides to bring his knowledge and wealth of apple seeds to the whole country. He is a determined young boy with only one goal in life: to plant orchard upon orchard of apple trees. Apple trees are his only real love and the salvation in his life. Along the way, Johnny gains great respect and admiration from those he encounters. Greenberg brings us through the tale beautifully, which is sure to bring a tear to your eye.

If you have ever boasted the phrase, I might be small, but I'm mighty, you will be moved by the last tale on the CD, Devoleb. Greenberg challenges you by asking what "Devoleb" spelled backwards means. Okay, I will give you a minute to figure it out: time's up. Inspired by Greenberg's own son, David, Devoleb teaches us that whatever we put our minds to, we can do. We are taught in this inspiring tale to discover and mold our own special talents. Size is no hindrance in life; only ignorance is.

This CD is overflowing with lessons and morals we may tend to forget or dismiss later in life. Once you have listened to Bonnie Greenberg's classic storytelling, you will be more than reminded of the simpler and precious aspects of life. The hero and heroine are reborn through her storytelling and song. This collection of stories will rejuvenate the child in all of us and put a smile on our faces.

On the CD: From the Hearts of the People Vol. 1.

Speaks to the universal feelings, needs, and understandings that we all share...this is a moving and compelling story, full of heartbreak, terror, desperation, and hope....Greenberg tells with sincerity and clarity, often accompanying herself on the guitar as she sings the song of the Partisans or Yiddish, humor, and courage speak so clearly in these tales. The Second Story Review, Canada

Greenberg speaks exceptionally well, creating a frightened boy and a grown man as well as candlesticks with Yiddish accents. Between episodes, she sings songs from Israel, Eastern Europe, and Appalachia...libraries searching for ethnic history sources will welcome these stories. Booklist, American Library Association

We truly enjoyed your tape. Our granddaughter, a CIT is bringing it to camp with her to play for her group! Lonnie Carton in the Learning Center

I was very moved by the power of your story and your telling. I felt very grateful for my children to have heard it. Theresa Whittiker, musician, storyteller

It is wonderful to find a storyteller who is brave, warmhearted, spirited, and willing to do the long hard work of developing and polishing a story...truly rare. Your story continues to glow in my memory. Barbara Reed, founder Connecticut Storytelling Center

Listeners will be enthralled with both stories on this cassette. Teachers can use the stories to make history come alive, or to encourage students to learn about their own families. School Library Journal