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Editorial Reviews

in a unique effort to raise money for the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and Artists for New South Africa, 23 narrators recorded as many African Folktales hand-picked by Mandela for this collection. The narrators — ranging from Samuel L. Jackson to Whoopi Goldberg to Charlize Theron — are notable actors. Half the fun of listening to these tales is trying to guess who's reading. While some voices are more distinctive than others — kudos to Alan Rickman (perhaps best known now for his portrayal of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series) who uses his pebbly baritone and stop-go cadence to full, dark effect in "The Ring of the King" — all are entertaining. Also listen for "Fesito Goes to the Market", where Don Cheadle enunciates as loudly, clearly, and confidently as the best live storytellers, while giving each character a different attitude with a remarkable range of tones. Helen Mirren, too, gives a standout performance — reaching the point where strength and vulnerability collide — in the epic and bittersweet "The Mother Who Turned to Dust".

The stories themselves are classic morality tales, including kings and children, lions and hyenas, gold and magic. Some of the lessons are straightforward, others more cryptic, but each legend is its own full and colorful world. The stories, which average about 10 minutes each, are perfect for children — not that they're at all childish. The universal themes hit hard; the tales don't always end happily, but they're light and wondrous enough for children, while being deep enough for adults (or kids) who choose to look further. At under four hours, the collection is short, but there's enough here that you'll want to listen over and over again — it's sure to become a favorite bedtime ritual. —Kelly Marages

Publisher's Summary

Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales is an audiobook benefiting children orphaned and impacted by HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Featured narrators include Gillian Anderson, Benjamin Bratt, LeVar Burton, Ricardo Chavira, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Whoopi Goldberg, Sean Hayes, Hugh Jackman, Samuel L. Jackson, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Debra Messing, Helen Mirren, Parminder Nagra, Sophie Okonedo, CCH Pounder, Alan Rickman, Jurnee Smollett, Charlize Theron, Blair Underwood, Forest Whitaker, and Alfre Woodard, with a special message from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and original music by South African legends by Johnny Clegg and Vusi Mahlasela, directed by Alfre Woodard.

The audiobook was a truly international affair, recorded in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, London, and Johannesburg. The stories were chosen by the Nobel Laureate himself, from every region of Africa.

Net proceeds will benefit the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and Artists for New South Africa, which works in the U.S. and South Africa to combat HIV/AIDS, provide comprehensive assistance to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, advance human rights, educate and empower at-risk youth, and build bonds between both nations. Both organizations are working to address the impact of the AIDS pandemic on children in South Africa.

All the individuals and companies involved in the effort have donated their services to allow a maximum amount of proceeds to benefit the charities. In addition to waiving sales and distribution fees, Hachette Audio will donate 100% of proceeds to ANSA and NMCF, and NB Publishers has waived fees, so additional royalties can benefit NMCF. The audiobook was manufactured by Ivy Hill/Cinram, which is donating a significant portion of their services. The actors, creative director, engineers, graphic designers, attorneys, and recording studios fully donated their services, as did three-time Grammy winner Gavin Lurssen, who mastered the audiobook.

(P)2009 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"In tales such as these, the dream-like, unpredictable symbology and sometimes cruel morality of myths resonate, and, in Mandela's words, the 'gritty essence of Africa' shines through in stories with universal themes." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Penny
  • ALDARA PARK, South Africa
  • 08-13-09

Exotic, fun and fascinating

When you buy this book, be sure to download the accompanying reference guide and then seek out the 5 extra stories not included in the album. I have no idea why all the stories weren't bundled in together.

The folk tales make you think, and provide some interesting explanations for why certain things are the way they are.

The music by Johnny Clegg and Vusi Mahlasela adds a great multimedia touch, and the songs can be played separately from their stories as well. The reference guide has a translation of the words of the Zulu songs.

The extra tracks are:
Spider and the Crows
The Lion, the Hare, and the Hyena
The Cloud Princess
The Cat Who Came Indoors
Mmadipetsane

Thanks to Audible for making this collection available worldwide.

45 of 48 people found this review helpful

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  • Riaz
  • St Lucia, Australia
  • 12-13-11

Excellent stories, poor, poor formatting

The stories are brilliant, of course. Africa's colourful and moving storytelling traditions are well-represented here.

The readings are fantastic as well. Whoopi Goldberg, amongst others, brings these stories to life in a way that is hilarious, moving, and entertaining. A great selection of readers!

My one HUGE gripe is that each story begins at about 10 seconds before the end of each track. Thus when you go to the start of a chapter and press play, it starts about 15 seconds into the story, missing the title of the story, intro music and the first few lines introducing what is going on.

This makes it VERY HARD to navigate the audiobook, or to skip back and find tracks you liked to share with other people. Epic fail guys! Come on!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sandy
  • Wanganui Rd 14New Zealand
  • 08-13-09

South African childhood

For anyone who grew up in South Africa, this takes you right back! Would have like some African voices to have read it out though...Good stories for your children if you have emmigrated from SA....

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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A Good Listen

I enjoyed listening to these little stories. They were made more endearing by the fact that Nelson Mandela picked them out from among his favorites. The narrators were well chosen and did a truly great job. The music, accents, the whole direction of these stories came together to set an enjoyable ambiance. It has a delicious African flavor, and teaches some good lessons in the mean time.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant

I loved this book so much that I bought the paper edition as well to learn more about the selections and sources of the stories. Each story is read by a unique voice well chosen for the particular tale. And African music is included whenever song is part of the story, transporting the listener to a culture that is beautiful and unique.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeff
  • United States
  • 04-24-12

A fantastic listen for adults and children

Would you listen to Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales again? Why?

Absolutely. Stories like these are timeless, and I enjoy them every time I hear them. They're great for when you need to kill 10-20 minutes, or when you want to half-listen to something you've already heard before. I like to put them on when I'm going to sleep. And, they're fun to listen to with kids because they are short and fun to talk about.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Deshanta
  • Sandton, South Africa
  • 12-20-11

Magical for children and adults alike

What made the experience of listening to Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales the most enjoyable?

The tales of famous African folklore was brought to life by the actors and actresses that took part in the narration. It was awesome to listen to these stories as if each and every Holloywood narrator were reading it to me and only me at bedtime.

What did you like best about this story?

The variety of folk tales that span the entire African continent and not just South Africa.

Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

Alan Rickman's and Whoopi Goldberg's narration stood out for me.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Uplifting and fun

This compilation is great to listen to in the car. There are different voices, male and famale, African and not, and tales ranging from quick and Aesop-like to longer, from Table Mountain to north African stories. Each carries a rhythm of Africa and occasionally a song embedded.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A Must-Have for Families With Kids

This is a terrific collection for families, but will also be enjoyed by adults who want something light and fun to listen to while driving or at bedtime. Yes, it's true that they don't all have a moral or teach a lesson, as another reader has noted. But ALL are entertaining. The best stories are those performed by the late great Alan Rickman and by Whoopi Goldberg, but many others among the all-star contributors provide great readings as well. The music is wonderful. Two important notes: Be sure to download the PDF that comes with the book (it's got summaries, reader lists, and beautiful full-color illustrations for the kids). Also, for some reason, some of the original stories from the collection are not included in your purchase, and are being offered for sale separately. Of these, only one, The Lion, the Hare, and the Hyena, narrated by Alan Rickman, appears to be worth the extra dollar. Happy listening!

3 of 7 people found this review helpful

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beautiful

If you could sum up Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales in three words, what would they be?

i liked them

What did you like best about this story?

the readers

Which scene was your favorite?

the first story about the kings ring

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

no

Any additional comments?

something to save, to listen to one of the stoires, between reading other regular length books

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Nancy Bowring
  • 11-06-12

Pleasing

Delightful tales well narrated by various actors. I would have given it a 5 star rating if some of the actors had bothered to learn the pronunciations of African nouns. And it would have been interesting if we'd been told who was reading what.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Nathan
  • 12-05-16

Well read and fun to listen to

A few of the readers were a little weak, but most were top quality, and the stories were all very interesting to hear.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful