From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4—This little volume contains more than 50 short stories, each told in only one to three pages. An introduction explains that it was put together by a "Collector of Stories," and the title derives from the hushing of the crowd so that only one voice—that of the storyteller—can be heard. It is an impressive gathering of tales from all over the world. Many are familiar, such as "The Belling of the Cat," "The Good Samaritan," and "The Elephant and the Blind Men." Each one has been retold by McBratney, and they all take on an Aesop-fable quality with often humorous endings. A few of the morals might go over younger children's heads', but even so the selections could be enjoyed by the whole family. It is a book that can be dipped in and out of and would make for a good bedtime read-aloud. Each story contains a spare line drawing done in basic shapes and lines to depict animals, people, and objects; they add little to the text. This is not a particularly impressive volume, but it is worth having since it gathers together so many traditional tales concisely and in one place.—Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA
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An Irish writer best known for the picture book Guess How Much I Love You (1995), McBratney offers an attractive collection of 56 short, pithy traditional stories from around the world, including folktales, fables, and Biblical parables. Most are retold in two or three pages, and some are illustrated with small stylized ink drawings, which add a decorative touch and occasionally underscore a selection’s humor. The tales are well chosen, and the tellings are concise, nimble, and often amusing, but readers who would like to know about the stories’ sources will find no commentary or notes to identify them. Apart from that regrettable limitation, this little volume will fill a need in homes and primary-grade classrooms for tales that are well suited to reading aloud. Grades 2-4. --Carolyn Phelan