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The Magic Orange Tree and Other Haitian Folktales, Volume 1

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Audio CD, September 22, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In the 1970's, Diane Wolkstein traveled throughout Haiti and recorded a rich collection of Haitian folktales. With delightful musical accompaniment by Shirley Keller, Diane tells five of these stories so intimately we feel as if she is sitting directly in front of us, inviting us into the unique culture and imagination of the Haitian people. Haiti's recent tragedy has given rise to an incredible outpouring of good will and generosity throughout the world. And yet despite recent events many people are unfamiliar with Haiti's vibrant culture and artistic traditions. For nearly 40 years, Diane Wolkstein's ALA Notable book, The Magic Orange Tree and Other Haitian Folktales, has been a classic for those wanting to learn more about Haiti and their unique customs, stories, and songs. Traveling through the Haitian countryside, Wolkstein, herself a well-known storyteller, harvested a rich collection of over 400 tales which she winnowed down to twenty-seven stories. These stories not only have led generations of children and adults around the globe to experience the spirit of Haiti through their magical folktales, but Diane's work has proven so relevant to Haitian culture that many of these stories have been re-translated back into the original Creole. Now, for the first time on CD, Diane tells five of these stories so intimately, we feel as if she is sitting directly in front of us. Interspersed with songs, and featuring delightful musical accompaniments by Shirley Keller based on recordings she made in Haiti, this long-awaited CD could not have arrived at a more appropriate time. With 10% of all proceeds going to Partners in Health towards the rebuilding of Haiti, Diane invites the listener not only to 'stand with Haiti' but also to enjoy and learn from the resilience and wisdom of this proud culture-- a vibrant, vital culture which has enabled the Haitian people to thrive in the face of adversity.


For more than 30 years, the book version of the same name has been considered a classic for those wanting to learn more about Haiti's dynamic and resilient culture, and with the recent earthquake shaking the country's core, the CD could not be arriving at a better time. Songs are embedded in the stories and, along with various phrases, repeated periodically throughout. The CD as a whole takes on a tribal feel, and its simplicity of content and language is remarkably refreshing.It reminds us that perhaps it's not so bad to go back to the basics every now and then, allowing ourselves to enjoy a good story. --Bev Spritzer, Shalom Life

When Diane Wolkstein shares Haitian folk tales and songs from The Magic Orange Tree, she is giving us a rare glimpse into the heart of Haiti. Through her skillful telling we become participants, singing and clapping along with Owl, Donkey, Horse and Toad, Tipingee and her friends. As the stories unfold, we too experience joy, sorrow, triumph, and wisdom. The stories stay with you, like the echo of a song or the warmth of the late summer sun. --Naomi Baltuck, President, Seattle Storytelling Guild

With her melodic voice, total command of storytelling technique, and knowledge of the folk narrative of Haiti second to none, she provides a beautiful companion piece to her classic anthology and the definitive tribute to her adopted culture. --Caren S. Neile, Ph.D., Chairwoman, National Storytelling Network
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 22, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Roomful of Sky Records
  • ASIN: B003X8YPOI
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #429,415 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By P. ROBINSON on September 22, 2010
Format: Audio CD
These stories and songs are a gift from the Haitian people; they touch deeply and live within a rich and nuanced emotional landscape, possessed of much more heft than a typical story collection.

Wolkstein disappears into the stories until only the characters themselves remain alive for you: the young girl with the cruel step-mother, the donkey bride and groom who take on human form to outlast a dry season, the handsome owl shamed at his own appearance, the resourceful Tipingee, and the boastful horse and clever toad.

Ultimately, these new companions of the imagination linger long after the listening has ended. I'd recommend this collection to anyone, of any age, for whom growth and imagination remain important treasures to be cherished... and that should include just about everybody.

- Phil Robinson
"Paint the walls of your cage with a dream."
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